Monday, December 31, 2012

Reviewed in the Journal of American History

     I am delighted to see Living with Lynching reviewed by yet another publication targeting traditional historians!  The Journal of American History (JAH) is the official publication of the Organization of American Historians (OAH).  It is recognized as "the leading scholarly publication and the journal of record in American history."
     The reviewer's conclusion:  "Mitchell’s analysis recovers a complex array of strategies that African Americans honed over decades to cope with the reality of lynching."  Also, "Mitchell’s most powerful chapters focus on lynching’s impact on family life. The figure of the mother/wife ... best instantiates the complexities of 'living with lynching.'"
     For more, please see Journal of American History 99.3 (December 2012): 958 - 59.
     For more on OAH, visit

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Toni Morrison Connection

When I give lectures based on the research that produced Living with Lynching, someone always asks what inspired me to study this material.  Some of the most honest answers to that question are now published in a volume that honors Toni Morrison.  Released this month, Toni Morrison: Forty Years in the Clearing is a lovely volume that includes contributions from Barack Obama, playwright Lydia Diamond (who adapted Morrison's The Bluest Eye for the stage), black feminist theorist Farah Jasmine Griffin, and artists Mendi + Keith Obadike.

My contribution to this collection is titled "Belief and Performance, Morrison and Me."  It details experiences I had in high school and college that led me to want to pursue a PhD.  Morrison's work was key to how I understood those experiences.  Her work continued to guide me years later when I had painful encounters as a young professor at a Research I institution.  Not only did the lessons I learned from Morrison help me understand those experiences; they also helped me navigate the interactions successfully enough to avoid being derailed as I wrote Living with Lynching.  

My essay can be downloaded from my Selected Works site, and the pdf includes the table of contents for this wonderful essay collection.  Free access here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Scholarly Work & Community Activities Featured

ASCENT magazine, published by the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio State University, interviewed me about my book.  I had a lovely conversation with communications professional Victoria Ellwood, and we talked about all kinds of things.  I had no idea what she would write, but I could not be more pleased with the outcome!  She really captured the link between my scholarly work and my community efforts to encourage women to become and remain physically active.  I will always cherish this story!  I'm sure you'll enjoy "Making Strides" too!

The picture above, which you'll also see in "Making Strides," is from the 2012 Capital City Half Marathon.  It is an absolutely wonderful event, and participants can choose to walk or run 13.1 miles (half marathon), 6.55 miles (quarter marathon), or 3.1 miles (5K).  I'm so excited in this picture because the founders of Black Girls RUN! made this race a national meet-up in 2012, so we had more than 160 women registered with our team.  Wherever you are, consider coming to Columbus the first weekend of May for this fabulous event!

Besides running the Capital City Half Marathon again in 2013, I'm running a half marathon on January 27th and devoting the effort to charity.  Please visit my site, consider donating, and SHARE the link! 

Again, thank you for being on this journey with me!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tayari Jones on Black LIT Radio!

Tomorrow, Monday 11/26/2012, KAZI Book Review with Hopeton Hay will air the Black LIT Radio interview with Tayari Jones.  The discussion focuses on her novel Silver Sparrow, which is now available in paperback and audio book.  The segment will begin after the news at 8 AM Central, 9 AM Eastern on Austin's KAZI-FM 88.7.  Those outside of Austin can listen live online at (click the microphone on left side of page) or through the TuneIn Radio app on iPhone or Droid phones. An iTunes podcast will be available shortly thereafter, which I'll share.

If you listen at some point, let me know what you think!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Discussing Self-Care in The Feminist Wire

I could write Living with Lynching in a way that made me proud because I had amazing support from countless people and several organizations.  Those factors were not enough, however.  I combined that support with a particular approach to my work and my health.  Because I think that adopting a similar approach might help others, I shared my perspective on healthy choices in a forum initiated by the extraordinary online journal The Feminist Wire.  This publication has become known for providing clusters of essays on key issues, ranging from the politics of Palestine to voting rights in the United States.  This time, women's health took center stage, with a special focus on women of color in the academy.  I am honored to have my ideas about this topic included in this remarkable and remarkably important forum.  

Emphasizing the need to draw boundaries and say "no," my piece is titled "Should-ing All Over Ourselves"

For an overview of the entire forum, see "Take Care: Notes on the Black (Academic) Women’s Health Forum"

To stay connected to this extraordinary publication, visit often! 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Praised in American Historial Review

Living with Lynching is praised in the October 2012 issue of American Historical Review, the official publication of the American Historical Association (AHA), which was founded in 1884 and chartered by Congress in 1889 to serve the interests of the entire discipline of history.  It means a lot to me that my book is commanding attention from traditional historians.

Scholar Julie Buckner Armstrong says of the study, "Mitchell points out that the plays direct the audience's focus away from the lynched black body toward the homes and communities left behind.  In doing so, they enact what the white power performance tried to erase: stable, loving black families.  Mitchell's thoughtful and thought-provoking book not only makes its case through fine-tuned analysis but also raises important questions about evidence, resistance, and literary value. "  

Armstrong concludes, "[Mitchell's] study offers significant new insights into a key historical moment and provides a model of academic scholarship."  

For more, see American Historical Review 117.4 (October 2012): 1231 - 1232.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ohio University

On Thursday, October 25, 2012, I visited Ohio University's School of Interdisciplinary Arts.  Students and faculty members in Film, Art, Art History, Literature, Theatre and Playwriting, and Music attended.  It's a truly unique program.  See their website:

This was my first trip to Ohio University in Athens, but I knew several scholars from their work, including Gary Holcomb, William Condee, Ayesha Hardison, and Amrit Singh, so I felt quite at home.  Still, what made this an exceptional experience was the welcome I received from film theorist Michael Gillespie, filmmaker Annie Howell, and playwright Charles Smith.  Dr. Gillespie arranged for the visit and hosted me from beginning to end.  Annie Howell gave me an enlightening crash course in the politics of independent filmmaking.  Charles Smith made time to participate in every part of my visit, which was a delight because I traveled to Indianapolis last year to see his play The Gospel According to James, which I blogged about: "Grappling with Midwestern Memories: A New Lynching Play"

In short, this visit was a remarkable treat for me.  The next day, I taught my own students, and they definitely benefited from the intellectual high that the good folks at OU inspired!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Award Arrives!

     Today was the first day that my "Womanhood in Black & White" class discussed a novel that I love, Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones.  However, I did not feel that I was on top of my game.  I did not feel that I led discussion in a way that did the book justice, despite how well this novel fits into the conceptual frameworks on which the course is based.  Because I am a bit too good at beating myself up about such things, I was not in the best of moods when I got home.  Well, SSAWW to the rescue!  This is what was waiting on me!

Because I could not attend the conference in Denver, Vice President Kristin Jacobson mailed my award.  Being the creative organization that it is, SSAWW opted not to give certificates.  I received an engraved business card holder.  As you can see, I am tired but elated!  A nice boost!  Next class, I'll be back on my A game!

My photography skills don't do it justice.  Rest assured, though, I will have a new joy whenever someone asks me for my business card!

Many, many thanks to the entire leadership team that has kept SSAWW strong in recent years, but especially to those with whom I have had the most contact: President Deborah Clarke and vice presidents Sarah Robbins, Kristin Jacobson, and Donna Campbell and to the members of the 2012 book award selection committee:  Elizabeth Duquette, Julia C. Ehrhardt, and Gregory Eiselein.

For more information about the Society for the Study of American Women Writers (SSAWW), including how to become a member, click HERE.

Another Book Award!!!

I am especially humbled to receive this recognition from the Society for the Study of American Women Writers (SSAWW) because it was the first organization that took lynching plays seriously.  I am pleased that these literary scholars see the book's contribution to the same degree that the theatre scholars of ATDS did.  What an amazing way to celebrate that my baby turned one year old this month!  The playwrights are taking their rightful place!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Black LIT Radio, Segment #1

As promised, you can listen to the radio segment online and on-demand.  I expect that these will get better and better.  Listen to segment #1 on Nella Larsen's Passing (1929) by going HERE and please let me know what you think!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Black LIT Radio debuts!

This Monday (10/8/2012), KAZI Book Review with Hopeton Hay debuts Black LIT Radio, a 10-minute segment on African American literature. The show airs at 7 AM Central, 8 AM Eastern on Austin's KAZI-FM 88.7. Those outside of Austin can listen live online at (click the microphone on left side of page) or through the TuneIn Radio app on iPhone or Droid phones. An iTunes podcast will be available shortly thereafter, which I'll share. 

The first segment is about Nella Larsen's 1929 novel Passing.

Yay! It's happening! If you listen at some point, let me know what you think!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ford Foundation Fellows celebration

Writing Living with Lynching in a way that made me proud would not have been possible without support from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Ford Foundation.  Being a Ford Foundation fellow has especially changed my life (as I say in the acknowledgments section of the book).  This amazing program just celebrated 50 years of awarding fellowships, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr gave the keynote at the celebration.  Nice memento! 9/20/2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

*Living with Lynching* on KINDLE!

A pleasant surprise!  Many have asked about my book's availability on KINDLE and Nook, so I've kept asking my press for update.  The only answer was that there was a delay.  I never understood exactly what the issue was, and I was beginning to think that it may never go digital.  Well, I just happened to look at the Amazon page and it's available.  Who knows.  The same thing might happen with Nook someday soon.  But this is great news!  Check it out here.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Week-long Spotlight on Tumblr

This week (August 27-31), Ohio State's English Department is spotlighting me and my work with new posts each day. It has been unfolding nicely! 

The Tumblr site represents the department's commitment to connecting with alumni and reaching wider and wider audiences.  I am definitely supportive of that mission!  Visit here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Living with Lynching" wins BOOK AWARD!!!

On Friday, August 3, 2012, Living with Lynching won the American Theatre and Drama Society's award for best book published in 2011. 

The selection committee chair, Jim Fisher, giving me the award.  He is a prolific, well respected scholar, director, and stage actor.  This is a truly humbling moment!

 I don't think I could be smiling any harder!  I was absolutely blown away by what he said about Living with Lynching before calling me up to accept the award.  

 I didn't want to lose all composure, so I wrote out my acceptance speech.  It wasn't as boring as this looks.  I managed to make pretty decent eye contact!

The next day, I got a chance to speak with both Professor Fisher and Professor Felicia Hardison LondrĂ©, who also served on the book award selection committee.  She holds an endowed chair and has written or edited 14 books.  Professor Fisher has written or edited no fewer than 8 books, so I surrounded myself with these two intellectual forces, hoping that some of their brilliance and discipline would rub off on me!!! 

Seriously, I cannot say how much it means to have themand so many others in ATDS whom I admiresee value in my work!

For more on the American Theatre & Drama Society, including how to become a member, please visit

Monday, July 30, 2012

Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum

On Wednesday, July 25, 2012, I gave a lecture at the Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum as part of the City of Atlanta's commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.  The city's Office of Cultural Affairs has created programming that will go through the summer of 2014, marking the anniversary of the pivotal Battle of Atlanta.  I was honored to be included, especially with a line-up that includes artist Kara Walker in just a few weeks.

Camille R. Love, Director of the Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, whose vision led to this lecture series.

Me and James Yancy, Archivist at the Jimmy Carter Library and Commissioner at Georgia Civil War Commission.  He and his wife were a delight!!!

I met Stephanie when I was in graduate school at the University of Maryland-College Park, but she moved to Atlanta years ago and has been working at Georgia Tech University.  We reconnected on facebook when Georgia Tech was considering Jacqueline Royster as their next Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.  Royster was Executive Dean at Ohio State when I was hired, and she left Ohio State to offer valued leadership at Georgia Tech in 2010.  I was just THRILLED to see Stephanie again!!!                                                                                     

People were so nice and patient in line to get books signed.  It was like a little party!  It was particularly nice to have Michael Leo Owens and his wife there.  (Michael has on that smooth hat!)  I "met" him on social media thanks to a graduate school friend, Dr. Adolphus Belk of Winthrop University.  In addition to his many responsibilities at Emory University, Dr. Michael Owens was recently elected vice chair of the Urban Affairs Association's governing board.  I appreciated that he and Karen made the time to share this experience with me!


This picture captures some of the reasons that this proved to be a truly special event!  Anthony Knight and I attended the same undergraduate institution (Ohio Wesleyan University).  We never attended at the same time, so we did not know each other, but he invited me to speak at the museum after he seeing my book featured in the alumni magazine.  Meanwhile, Dr. Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper, renowned Langston Hughes scholar and Spelman College professor, has been a role model for me in the profession and we have recently crossed paths at Modern Language Association (MLA) conventions.  Turns out, they knew each other, but this was the first time that Dr. Harper had visited the museum.  Thus, she symbolizes for me that the goal of the lecture series was met!  With more than 60 people in attendance, many of them said (as Dr. Harper did) that this was their first time inside the building.

Photographs courtesy of ZDennis Media Group

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

UPDATE: Atlanta Radio Interview

Lorraine Jacques-White's Power Talk radio show will also interview Atlanta's mayor on Wednesday, July 25th, so my appearance has been moved to 6:30 AM.  For details and another link for listening live, please visit

The details about the evening lecture are the same as related in the earlier post.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Atlanta Lecture & Radio Interview

On Wednesday, July 25, 2012, I will lecture in Atlanta at 6:30 PM at the Cyclorama & Civil War Museum.  Early that morning, I will be interviewed live on talk radio, around 7:30am on WAOK- 1380 AM (CBS Radio). Even if you're not in Atlanta, you can listen live online at (Just click the "Listen Live" button on the right) or through the TuneIn Radio app on iPhone or Droid phones. 

For details on the evening lecture, please see  OR, for those on facebook, please see

Many thanks to everyone who has been sending positive energy and support as this journey continues!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Now in Paperback!!

After 9 months of being in the world in hardcover only, my baby will be available in paperback!! Amazon pre-orders are $26 for August 1 delivery. Barnes & Noble has it for $25.60. Once again, the University of Illinois Press did a beautiful job. It's a QUALITY paperback, almost as gorgeous as the original.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Interviewed by Vershawn Young

A new interview about Living with Lynching is now part of the New Books in African American Studies podcast series!  The audio series is hosted by Vershawn Young, who edited that fabulous essay collection Bourgeois to Boojie, which contains provocative chapters by Houston Baker, Amiri Baraka, Greg Tate, Dwight McBride, Lisa B. Thompson, and many others.  

It was a lively conversation in which I discussed what inspired the project, why I take issue with another scholar's declaration that African American literature ended, and why I believe that lynching plays do not depict physical violence.  I also talked about the importance of debate in black communities and about why scholars have gone astray by assuming that black drama did not keep pace with African American poetry and fiction.  

Listen to the interview here

For more on the interview series, see
For more on Vershawn Young's book Bourgeois to Boojie, click here

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Interviewed on Austin Radio Show


I was interviewed by Hopeton Hay, producer and host of KAZI Book Review, which airs on KAZI 88.7 FM in Austin, Texas. Our lively conversation will broadcast on Monday, June 11, 2012 at approximately 7:03 AM Central time. Those outside of Austin can listen live online at (click the microphone on left side of page) or through the TuneIn Radio app on iPhone or Droid phones. (Remember, this would be 8:03 AM Eastern.)

For more about the show, including on-demand listening to archived interviews, visit

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Two More Reviews

Four reviews in the book's first six months of existence? I'll take it!

The April 2012 issue of Arkansas Review includes a piece on Living with Lynching. One representative quotation: "Mitchell methodically documents and skillfully interprets lynching drama's important cultural work. . . . She illuminates an overlooked aspect African American literary history" (61).

In March, the Rutgers University website Criminal Law & Criminal Justice Books reviewed Living with Lynching. Though the piece has serious limitations, the review's existence suggests that a wide variety of readers are taking notice. It is perfectly normal for an academic book by a new author to go 2 years without a single review. So, I am thrilled that Living with Lynching is not only commanding that sort of attention, but also doing so among scholars in fields other than literary and performance studies—in its first 6 months in print!

(The other two reviews are referenced in earlier posts: Reviewed on H-NET and Highly Recommended by CHOICE.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Community Activities Featured

As I have shared on this blog before, my scholarly work benefits from my running. Because running has been so good to me, I try to share it with as many people as possible. The local newspaper recently featured some of what I've been doing that has inspired more women to take notice! Story archived here:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Boston University

Before my lecture at Boston University, Linda Heywood, director of the African American Studies program, called for a moment of silence for Trayvon Martin. This was Thursday, March 22, 2012 and I had just torn myself from the latest insulting press conference on CNN about the case. Silence was observed for a full minute and it changed the energy of every word I spoke that evening, almost as if I had never said those words before. I will never forget this lecture or the energy in that intimate space.

During the intense, intimate Q&A, a black male graduate student shared his experience of being beaten by a spontaneous mob and barely escaping with his life. At least he wasn't turned away at the hospital, he shared. I responded with (among many other points) my belief in the importance of community conversation, as articulated in Living with Lynching.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

University of Delaware

I lectured at the University of Delaware on Wednesday, March 21, 2012. The event was sponsored by the Center for the Study of Diversity, which had recently hosted Claude Steele and featured his research on stereotype threat.

Listening to a thoughtful audience member during Q&A.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reviewed on H-NET, Humanities & Social Sciences Online

A traditional historian provides a substantial review of Living with Lynching for H-Net, covering nearly every chapter in some detail. Highlights include:

"...Living with Lynching provides an emphatic push to change how we understand, write about, and teach the phenomenon of lynching."

"Living with Lynching does many things well. Historians will note that Mitchell has joined Davarian Baldwin (Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, the Great Migration, and Black Urban Life [2007]) in geographically decentering the Harlem Renaissance. Her emphasis on a cadre of Washington DC playwrights makes clear the national flourishing of black arts and letters in the interwar period. Moreover, Mitchell’s choice to focus on lynching dramas as a product of the black community that reaffirmed its values and goals pushes historical analysis away from a simple interpretation of black cultural production as a 'protest art' in response to white oppression."

"Living with Lynching is a well-written, well-researched piece of scholarship that will hold great value for historians studying black life in the interwar period, the Harlem Renaissance, and the phenomenon of lynching. It pushes beyond the frozen in time image of the mutilated black body to the impact of lynching on the black household. Living with Lynching makes clear how African Americans in this period combated stereotyped images by reinforcing and performing 'how they saw themselves' and 'who they believed themselves to be' (p. 199)."

Full review HERE.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Interviewed by ColorLines Magazine

Short piece on Trayvon Martin case, the racial violence examined in Living with Lynching, and the importance of community conversation.

ColorLines is a publication of the Applied Research Center (

Friday, March 2, 2012

Indiana University

On Thursday, February 16, 2012, I gave a lecture at Indiana University. My visit was arranged by Professor Amy Cook, whose research centers on theatre and cognitive science. Her interest in my work and willingness to read it so carefully—and engage me so rigorously—was nothing short of humbling.

Professor Cook arranged for me to meet with Theatre and Drama graduate students in an intimate setting long before the lecture. During this session, we discussed everything from my book's performance studies methodology to the various strategies that being a woman in the profession has required me to adopt. This is when it became clear how thoroughly Professor Cook had read my book. It was also clear that she is doing remarkable work with her graduate and undergraduate students. I say a bit about that here.

I have always felt that I do this work only with the help of the ancestors. I am grateful for this image, which captures that feeling. Ida B. Wells, I speak your name.

After the lecture, I got to chat with members of the Indiana University African American and African Diaspora Studies Graduate Society. Visiting professor Walton Muyumba is on the second row to the left. He brought his graduate class, and afterward, we talked about everything from James Baldwin to Black Girls RUN!

It was a thoroughly invigorating visit. I am inspired by Amy Cook's example and remain excited about the conversations this visit made possible.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Highly Recommended by CHOICE

A review of Living with Lynching appears in the March 2012 issue of CHOICE.
3 Stars, Highly Recommended. Here's an excerpt:

"Mitchell contends, in part, that black-authored lynching plays helped African Americans navigate lynching by de-emphasizing or completely eschewing the lynched black body in their narratives. Rather, the plays dramatized the effect lynching had on African American families, soldiers, and lawyers. Mitchell makes the interesting argument that African American playwrights intended their lynching dramas to be performed in community spaces such as black churches, schools, and homes rather than on stage. She shows how performing lynching plays in community spaces allowed African Americans to actualize the various subjectivities...that lynchings sought to expunge. This book is required reading for understanding the ways in which narrative and performance have been central to challenging white oppression as well as (re)imagining black identity in America."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Honored by Student Organization

On Friday, February 3, 2012, Unplugging Society: Woman of Color Think Tank held a Hat and Gloves Tea in honor of 4 women role models, and they counted me among them!

Before the event, I got some proof that I had actually found appropriate attire!

My English Department colleague Andrea Williams made the time to share this moment with me.

Thanking Unplugging Society for the award and for their presence. The work that this organization is doing on campus and beyond is nothing short of amazing. They are working against human trafficking, facilitating serious inter-faith discussions, mentoring students in under-resourced public schools, and more. It is truly humbling to have them see that my work emerges from similar investments, even if in a seemingly less hands-on way.

This is Dr. Patricia "Patty" Cunningham. She took a graduate literature class with me a few years ago on her way to the PhD. It was a really rough quarter for me, so I'm shocked that I managed to leave a positive impression. I am honored that she thought enough of me to nominate me for this award and that she made enough of a case that the organization's leadership decided I was suitable for recognition this year.

As a part of this celebration, the organization showed a 20-minute video featuring the honorees. It is now available here. What extraordinary company!!! I am truly humbled that they could see my contributions as even remotely in the company of the amazing work that these 3 women are doing!