In its fiftieth anniversary year, the National Book Critics Circle gathers literary critics who have been defining the future of contemporary cultural criticism. Three NBCC criticism award chairs, who have had their fingers on the pulse of critical engagement for the past decade, are joined by three NBCC-honored critics in a reading and wide-ranging conversation about the future of the form.
Camille T. Dungy is the author of Soil, four collections of poetry, including Trophic Cascade and the essay collection Guidebook to Relative Strangers, a finalist for the NBCC Criticism award. A University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University, Dungy’s honors include the 2021 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Book Award, and fellowships from the NEA in prose and poetry.
The winner of a Pulitzer Prize for criticism, Margo Jefferson previously served as book and arts critic for Newsweek and the New York Times. Her writing has appeared in, among other publications, Vogue, New York Magazine, The Nation, and Guernica. Her memoir, Negroland, received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. She is also the author of On Michael Jackson and is a professor of writing at Columbia University School of the Arts.
Walton Muyumba has published literary essays and reviews in The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, Oxford American, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among other outlets. He co-edited and wrote the introduction to John Edgar Wideman’s collection, You Made Me Love You: Selected Stories, 1981–2018 (Scribner, 2021). Muyumba is at work on various creative and critical book projects. He is Ruth N. Halls Associate Professor in the Department of English at Indiana University.
Moderator: J. Howard Rosier is the National Book Critics Circle’s criticism chair. His writing has appeared in The New York TImes, the Atlantic, The Nation, Bookforum, Poetry, Words Without Borders, and elsewhere. He teaches writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Introducer: Jane Ciabattari, author of the short story collection Stealing the Fire, is a former National Book Critics Circle president (and current NBCC vice president/events), and a member of the Writers Grotto. Her reviews, interviews, and cultural criticism have appeared in NPR, BBC Culture, New York Times Book Review, The Guardian, Bookforum, Paris Review, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications.