1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

1780 | The Official Blog of Transylvania University

National Book Award winner Imani Perry to give Transylvania’s Kenan Lecture on March 2

Imani Perry, a bestselling author who recently won the National Book Award, will give Transylvania University’s 2023 William R. Kenan Jr. Lecture on March 2.

Perry will deliver the annual talk — one of the biggest campus events of the school year — at 7 p.m. in Haggin Auditorium (watch the livestream here). The next morning at 10:30, she will participate in a moderated conversation followed by a Q&A in Carrick Theater.

Both events are free and open to the public. Reserve tickets.

Perry is a public intellectual and cultural historian who serves as the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. She received the National Book Award for Nonfiction for her “South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation,” published last year. She will sign books at the March 2 event.

National Book Award judges said the author “breathes fresh air into examinations of long-held policies and current cultural practices nuanced by place and time. ‘South to America’ is elegantly personal and archival, predictive and bold, sweet and soulful, and, most of all, true.”

Perry’s other works include “Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry” and “Breathe: A Letter to My Sons.”

“If there were one impact I’d like my work to have, it would be that people would cease talking about African American history and culture in terms of deprivation or inadequacy and actually acknowledge its depth and complexity and beauty,” Perry said.

She earned a BA degree from Yale, a J.D. at Harvard Law School and a Ph.D. in American studies from Harvard University.

“Imani Perry’s visit to Transylvania is a wonderful opportunity for our campus and the Lexington community to engage with some of the most pressing issues of our time,” President Brien Lewis said. “Our Kenan Lecture consistently draws thought-provoking speakers who are making a significant impact on the world — and this year is no different.” 

Over the decades, the series has drawn such notables as Beverly Sills, Kurt Vonnegut, Salman Rushdie, Elie Wiesel and, most recently, former U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.

Photo: Sameer Khan