Bookshelf: Conversations with Jerry W. Ward Jr.

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JANS – Jerry W. Ward Jr. has published nonfiction, literary criticism, encyclopedias, anthologies, and poetry. Ward is also a highly respected scholar with a specialty in African American literature and has been recognized internationally as one of the leading experts on Richard Wright. Ward was Lawrence Durgin Professor of Literature at Tougaloo College, served as a member of both the Mississippi Humanities Council and the Mississippi Advisory Committee for the US Commission on Civil Rights, and co-founded the Richard Wright Circle and the Richard Wright Newsletter. He has won numerous awards, and in 2001 he was inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent.

Conversations with Jerry W. Ward Jr. aims to add an indispensable source to American literature and African American studies. It offers an account of Ward’s responses to questions about literature, literary criticism, teaching, writing, civil rights, Black aesthetics, race, and culture. 

Throughout the fourteen interviews collected in this volume that range from 1995 to 2021, Ward demonstrates his responsibilities as a contemporary scholar, professor, writer, and social critic. His personality glimmers through these interviews, which, in a sense, are inner views that allow us to see into his mind, understand his heart, and appreciate his wit.

The book is edited by John Zheng, a professor of English at Mississippi Valley State University and author of A Way of Looking, which won the Gerald Cable Book Award. He is also editor of African American Haiku: Cultural Visions; The Other World of Richard Wright: Perspectives on His Haiku; Conversations with Dana Gioia; and Conversations with Sterling Plumpp and coeditor of Conversations with Gish Jen, all published by University Press of Mississippi.

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Bookshelf: Conversations with Jerry W. Ward Jr.

By Jackson Advocate News Service
June 26, 2023