Monday, December 2, 2013

Reviewed in LEGACY

Living with Lynching received a favorable review in the journal Legacy, alongside a book I very much admire, Crystal Feimster's Southern Horrors (Harvard UP)The reviewer, Jennie Lightweis-Goff, is author of Blood at the Root: Lynching As American Cultural Nucleus.  

She begins by marking how dramatically scholarship on racial violence has proliferated since 2002. She notes, "However, despite the upsurge of scholarship on lynching, Koritha Mitchell's Living with Lynching suggests that the process of redress has scarcely begun. Mitchell begins her book with a bracing introduction that radically reimagines the relationship between scholarship on lynching and the photography of the dead.... " Also, "In addition to unearthing an underexplored archive of black women's writing, Mitchell engages with one of the central problematics of feminist and critical race theories: the ethics of representing atrocity."

Lightweis-Goff concludes, "Mitchell's alternative account of black communities and values and Feimster's counter-narratives about white and black women's responses to lynching are essential reading in a scholarly climate that provides a plethora of writing on collective violence"

For the full review, see Legacy 30.2 (2013): 417 - 20.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2 Book Talks in Virginia

On Thursday, November 14, 2013, I gave a lecture at the University of Richmond.  The event was sponsored by the Department of Theate & Dance and took place on Cousins Stage of the Modlin Center for the Arts. Department Chair Dorothy Holland made the visit possible, and I was warmly greeted by several colleagues, including professors Patricia Herrera, Walter Schoen, madison moore, Chuck Mike, W. Reed West, Anne Norman Van Gelder, Johann Stegmeir, and Alicia Díaz. 

The majority of those in attendance were undergraduate students, one of whom asked how I cope with all the violence I study.  What an incisive and crucial question! Among other things, I shared with her that I would be running the Richmond Half Marathon that very Saturday. I told her that that fact was very much related to just how important her question was.

Professor Patricia Herrera was a wonderful host and she asked a question about recent movies about slavery that allowed me to articulate many of my concerns with how the entertainment industry treats black pain. 

Cousin Nate lives in Richmond, so he made a point of coming to talk to me afterward. So nice to have an unexpected family element to the weekend!

On Friday, November 15, 2013, I gave a book lecture in Charlottesville at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.  It was a special treat!  Nearly everyone in attendance was an established scholar, so they were extraordinarily engaged.  Author Hermine Pinson of William and Mary helped make the visit possible, and Foundation president Robert C. Vaughan, III made time to attend.  University of Virginia colleagues, such as Marlon Ross and Lisa Woolfork, attended and asked questions that will continue to inform my thinking.  It was also a treat to have rising literary scholar Laura Goldblatt there. As usual, her contribution to the discussion was challenging and invigorating. 

The next day, Saturday, November 16, 2013, I ran the Richmond Half Marathon and set a new PR! Cousin Nate even got a picture of my finish!  This was my 10th half marathon but definitely the first time that I finished with so much energy that I threw my hands up in victory!  A great way to cap off an amazing weekend!

Thursday, November 7, 2013 "Academic Feminist" Feature

On November 7, 2013, to coincide with the beginning of the 2013 conference of the National Women's Studies Association, featured my research and dubbed me an "Academic Feminist." The interview covers my book Living with Lynching as well as my theoretical approaches and social justice investments, and it offers a preview of my most recent essay, which draws parallels between lynching and anti-LGBT violence. I am grateful that Feministing and independent scholar Gwendolyn Beetham saw enough value in this work to highlight it and encourage more people to read the essay "Love in Action."  I think we can all benefit from grappling with these realities.

The Academic Feminist feature is HERE.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Video Interview: Lynching & Anti-LGBT Violence

The Ohio State University English Department maintains a Tumblr blog.  This week, they are placing a spotlight on Queer Studies. The feature includes a video interview with me about the essay in which I draw parallels between lynching and anti-LGBT violence. I'm so grateful that the site's managers wanted to highlight this research and that they followed through and made it happen. They did a great job with the interview!

Please let us know what you think.

Video can be viewed from here:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Appreciated Attention for Essay on Lynching & Anti-LGBT Violence

On Friday, October 18, 2013, I was very pleasantly surprised to see my essay "Love in Action: Noting Similarities between Lynching Then and Anti-LGBT Violence Now" listed in Feministing's Daily Feminist Cheat Sheet.   

They call the essay "long, but totally worth the read."  I'll take that any day!!  

Their listing here.

(I described the essay on this blog here.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sig Synnestvedt Memorial Lecture at the College of Brockport

On Thursday, October 10, 2013, I gave the Sig Synnestvedt Memorial Lecture, an endowed annual event honoring the legacy of a Brockport History Department chair whose work on race relations left an important mark on the department and the college.

 The history department was an amazing host and they secured co-sponsorship from the departments of English, Theatre, and African American Studies. I appreciated this recognition that Living with Lynching contributes to several fields. 

Approximately 200 people attended the lecture, and one professor noted that more students seemed to bring their parents than in years past.  It was a pleasant surprise to everyone, including those bringing in additional chairs.

I was quite thrilled to meet and speak at length with Professor Carvin Eison, an award-winning documentary filmmaker. We spoke about several of his projects, especially Shadows of the Lynching TreeEspecially because this documentary considers the shadow that lynching casts in the Obama Era, we found much common ground, given that my next monograph will engage Michelle Obama. I'm looking forward to fruitful conversations in the coming years.

Along with Professor William Morris, who graciously organized much of my visit, and History Department chair Owen Ireland, Professor Alison Parker was an especially attentive host. Parker's work centers on United States History and she has done important work on Mary Church Terrell that I hope will lead to a biography of Terrell.  She is co-editor of a book series for the University of Rochester Press, Gender and Race in American History.

Besides having a fabulous day with faculty and students, I got to meet members of the Synnestvedt family!!! Sig and Nadine Synnestvedt's daughter, Barbara Synnestvedt Karas, continues their commitment to fostering an intellectual community at Brockport that appreciates the importance of engaging this country's racial past and present. She traveled from North Carolina to be a part of the event she makes possible and to meet with university officials about the future of the endowment. She gave opening remarks before my lecture and came to the reception afterward.  She also asked an important question during Q&A and shared wonderful insights later, as we discussed her career as an educator. I will always remember the lovely conversation she and I had with a student about Zora Neale Hurston's work.

Dee Smith-Johns has great energy, and we hit it off immediately!  She is Sig and Nadine Synnestvedt's niece, and she traveled from Philadelphia to participate in the event and help direct the endowment's future. At the reception, she spoke eloquently about the model of social engagement that Professor Synnestvedt's work provided to everyone in the family. She also gave examples from current events to underscore the enduring importance of understanding race and racism, and she explained that those assembled were part of a rich tradition at Brockport of equipping students to become citizens who make positive change.  

I was quite delighted to learn that she played a key role in my being considered for the honor of giving the memorial lecture.  Turns out, her spouse is an OSU alum, so ASCENT magazine comes to their home, and she read "Making Strides."  What a pleasant surprise to learn this only after arriving!

As if it were not enough to have had an amazing day full of smart conversations with faculty members, with graduate students over coffee and throughout the day, and with undergraduate students at the chair's dessert reception, I got in a 6-mile run along the Erie Canal the next morning before leaving for their airport. Granted, I didn't take this picture.  It was still dark when I ran, so I prioritized a headlight, not a camera. Still, this gives a sense of where I got to run before leaving Brockport, which had so warmly welcomed me.  Nothing could make my memories of this visit sweeter, not even the fabulous desserts I had at that reception!

All pictures courtesy of Barbara Synnestvedt Karas. Thank you!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lynching Then, Anti-LGBT Violence Now, Know-Your-Place Aggression Always

A month after Living with Lynching was published, I gave a lecture at a community center and was asked a question that stayed with me and demanded a thorough response. Almost two years later, that response now appears in Callaloo as a 30-page article titled "Love in Action: Noting Similarities between Lynching Then and Anti-LGBT Violence Now." Of course, I wrote keenly aware of the tensions that can arise with such comparisons, and I think I did justice to the issues. Further, I think we can all benefit from grappling with these realities. If you get a chance to read it and tell me what you think—good or bad—I would appreciate it. And, if you find any value in it, I hope you'll share widely. 

One of the most striking similarities is know-your-place aggression, most directly discussed on pages 700 - 702 of the article.

The full-text essay can be downloaded from here: 
"Love in Action: Noting Similarities between Lynching Then and Anti-LGBT Violence Now"

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Reviewed in Callaloo

The premier journal of African Diaspora literature and culture, Callaloo, offers a review of Living with Lynching by black feminist scholar Courtney Marshall.  Marshall's work centers on the criminalization of black women and promises to make important contributions as many Americans grapple with the ravages of the prison industrial complex. 

Marshall's review carefully engages the work that each chapter of Living with 
Lynching does.  She concludes with an nod toward the book's investment in not 
replicating the violence achieved by gruesome images of lynching victims. "By 
excluding lynching photographs, Mitchell’s book enacts the scholarly move she 
advocates. Her study includes visual images that support her argument that the 
visual archive of lynching photography has dominated the conversations. 
Reproductions of the playbill from Angelina Weld Grimke’s Rachel and the cover 
of The Crisis are powerful antidotes to photographs of broken corpses hanging from 
trees, light poles, and bridges."
Callaloo 36.2 (2013): 490 - 92.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Radio Discussion on Trayvon Martin: Racial Violence & the Law

Late on Saturday, July 13, 2013, George Zimmerman was found "not guilty," despite taking the life of innocent teenager Trayvon Martin. That Monday, July 15, I agreed to join a radio discussion on Warren Olney's show To the Point, based in Santa Monica, California.  They titled the show The Zimmerman Verdict Divides a Nation, and the segment begins around 24:27.  For me, it was about how violence against marginalized people is excused in the very letter and spirit of the law. This is made especially clear when Americans feel justified in worrying more about what the supposed "intentions" are rather than caring about what the impact is.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Reviewed in Theatre Journal

The May 2013 issue of Theatre Journal includes a review of Living with Lynching by Stanford University-trained anthropologist Christen Smith.  Smith's work focuses on performance, violence, and black liberation and resistance in the Americas, particularly Brazil and the United States.

Smith:  "As Mitchell demonstrates, lynching plays were integral parts of intensely political discussions among black intellectuals in the early twentieth century. ...Living
with Lynching is a rich, detailed, and riveting examination of these under-studied dramas."

See Theatre Journal 65.2 (May 2013):  296 - 98.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Reviewed in American Literature

The March 2013 issue of American Literature includes a review essay by James Dawes titled "Racism and Violence in Current US Literary and Cultural Criticism" that reviews Living with Lynching along with three other books. Dawes is a very well respected literary and cultural historian who engages violence and trauma. In this review essay, he frames his assessment in terms of theoretical contribution versus historical recuperation. Living with Lynching is viewed as capable of the latter, and the review gives the impression that this is a much more limited contribution because our current historical moment demands the kind of theoretical interventions offered in Jodi Melamed's Represent and Destroy: Rationalizing Violence in the New Racial Capitalism.  I very much admire Melamed's work, but that project is very different from trying to do justice to people who lived and wrote while the mob remained a palpable threat.  

Though the review did not seem very interested in taking my book on its own terms, I appreciate that Living with Lynching got some space in a journal I value and some attention from a scholar I very much respect.

See American Literature 85.1 (March 2013): 177 - 84.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Reviewed in Modern Drama and Reviews in American History

In the Spring 2013 issue of Modern Drama, award-winning theatre historian Harvey Young calls Living with Lynching "insightful and well-researched."  He finds, "...Mitchell spotlights the labour and presence of female playwrights in the origination of African American drama and challenges historical studies that identify male authors as the catalysing force in its development. Mitchell’s assertion is bold and persuasive."

See Modern Drama 56.1 (Spring 2013):  137 - 40.

In the Spring 2013 issue of Reviews in American History, historian Dennis Downey, who teaches at Millersville University, sees value in Living with Lynching mostly to the extent that it seems to align with the work of someone he can respect: renowned theologian
James H. Cone. I admire Cone and his work, so I certainly don't mind being put in that company.  

With Cone's approaches helping to redeem Living with Lynching, Downey says (among other things), "Mitchell notes with keen insight, African Americans interpreted lynching as a direct assault on individuals, group identity, and domestic stability. 'In all lynching dramas,' she writes in summary, 'homes, not just bodies, are victimized.'" 

See Reviews in American History 41.1 (March 2013):  87 - 93. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Keynote at Marietta College

On Friday, March 22, 2013, I had the honor of delivering a keynote lecture at a Women's History Month banquet at Marietta College.  Dr. Richard Danford serves as their Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, and he earned his PhD at Ohio State University.  He therefore receives ASCENT magazine and saw the feature in which they highlight my scholarly and community activities.  Because I emphasize the role that women played in initiating lynching drama, he immediately recognized my investment in building on the legacy that women in the United States have left us.  

The visit was a joy from beginning to end.  I met with a literary research methods course taught by my SSAWW colleague Professor Nicole Livengood; I met with an organization for black women students; I spoke to a group of English majors and History majors interested in archival research; and I met with members of Marietta's newly formed Lesbian and Gay Task Force to share the findings of my forthcoming essay on anti-LBGT violence.

This incredibly productive day ended with the lecture itself, a generative Q&A session, and a book signing that their bookstore generously arranged and attendees graciously supported.

Still, there was yet another element that made this trip special.  I stayed in an "executive suite" in one of the dorms. Turns out, it was a brand new dorm built in honor of the institution's first black alumnus, Charles Sumner Harrison, Class of 1876. (He also earned an M.D. in 1895 from Howard University.) Two of his brothers later graduated from Marietta as well.  It was an humbling treat to walk past these portraits throughout my stay.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Black LIT Radio segments # 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5

Black LIT Radio is a 10-minute radio segment about African American literature that came to life after I was interviewed about my book Living with Lynching on KAZI Book Review with Hopeton Hay.  Once a month, I either have a conversation with Hopeton about a black-authored literary text or I interview an author who makes him/herself available.  Many thanks to those who listen live when these are aired.  As promised, I also provide the podcast link when they are available, but this is a good time to offer a cluster.  Links below allow you to listen on-demand.  ENJOY!  And please let me know what you think in the comment section below or via email, Twitter, whatever.  I would be happy to have your feedback on which literary works you'd like us to discuss in the future.

Segment #1 aired in October 2012: Nella Larsen's 1929 novel Passing

Segment #2 aired in November 2012: Interview with Tayari Jones about her award-winning 2011 novel Silver Sparrow

Segment #3 aired in December 2012:  Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka's 1964 play Dutchman

Segment #4 aired in January 2013:  Interview with playwright Charles Smith, mostly about his recent award-winning offering Knock Me a Kiss

Segment #5 aired in February 2013:  Toni Morrison's latest novel Home and other classic works

I am grateful for these conversations about this rich, living tradition!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Two New Reviews

Two more reviews of Living with Lynching have emerged.  

In that stellar journal Signs, Sandy Alexandre offers a truly gratifying assessment.  She recently published her own study of racial violence, The Properties of Violence, and it is very clear that she understands what it means to examine this material in ways that acknowledge the humanity and agency of targeted individuals, families, and communities.

Her review of reads, in part, "If ever a lynching book could be described as beautiful, it would undoubtedly be Mitchell’s for the gracious way she takes care to read, generously and meticulously, all that she sees and hears (as well as what she does not see and hear) when she enters the homes that these characters have struggled to build for themselves. The beauty and persuasiveness of Living with Lynching lie also in its clarity and its sense of conviction..."  For more, please see the Spring 2013 issue of Signs, a publication of the University of Chicago Press.

The Drama Review (TDR) also includes of review by rising scholar Kristin Moriah.  She says, for example, "Mitchell’s work is truly singular. Critical attention has rarely been turned towards the output of early African American women playwrights. Thus, Mitchell’s examination of embodied practices of black belonging as they relate to lynching dramas signifies a new line of critical inquiry."  For more, please see the Spring 2013 issue of TDR, a publication of New York University and MIT.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Two More Interviews on First Lady Michelle Obama

Living with Lynching is a study of successful black familiesfamilies whose success inspired violence from white supremacistsAs I continue to examine the reception of successful black families, Michelle Obama has become an interesting figure.  I have had two more opportunities to discuss her in the public realm.  On Friday, January 25, 2013, I was a guest on Karamu with Dr. Richard Cooper, which airs on Philadelphia radio station 900 AM WURD.  

On Tuesday, February 19, 2013, I was part of an even more in-depth conversation on Minnesota Public Radio show The Daily Circuit.  I was honored to share the airwaves with a writer I have long admired, Tami Winfrey Harris.  

The Daily Circuit called this segment "How Michelle Obama Divides Feminists" and you can listen HERE.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Keynote Lecture at Bucknell University

On Monday, February 4, 2013, I delivered a keynote lecture to help kick off Bucknell University's programming for Black History Month.  The event was sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Services and the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and GenderThe details that made the visit so lovely were handled by Dr. Vincent Stephens, Director of the Office of Multicultural Student Services.  He is an American Studies scholar whose analyses have been quite influentialAside from numerous music reviews in publications such as Popular Music & Society, his essay “Pop Goes the Rapper: A Close Reading of Eminem’s Genderphobia” appeared in the journal Popular Music and was reprinted in the popular culture textbook Common Culture.  For more on Dr. Stephens' publications, including free downloads, visit his Selected Works page.


Time spent with faculty members and students made this a particularly productive visit.  Conversations with theatre scholar Meenakshi Ponnuswami were particularly warm and invigorating.  We found much common ground through dramatists James Baldwin and Amiri Baraka, and Dr. Ponnuswami gave me wonderful suggestions for an essay with which I have been struggling.  I also had a great time meeting Dr. Michael Drexler who specializes in nineteenth-century American literature.  Fortunately, a few students also made time for me outside of the lecture!  I had a great tour from Paul and a nice lunch with Juanita and Trayvon.  Also, Darby stayed after the lecture to share his ideas about the issues with which we both struggle as we try to remain true to our ideals in a society that sometimes seems reluctant to reward that kind of integrity.  I came back to Columbus energized!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Lecture at Ohio State

On Thursday, January 24, 2013, I presented as part of the DISCO lecture series. 

DISCO stands for Diversity & Identity Studies Collective at Ohio State, and Professor Debra Moddelmog (pictured above) created it.  Thanks to its existence, cutting-edge work in the various fields represented by the Collective have more visibility on OSU's campusDebra has been a tireless champion of diversity and inclusion and the intellectual richness that diversity brings.  She has also been a crucial part of the success of Living with Lynching because she guided mestep by step and draft by draftthrough the process of responding to reader reports.  I was honored to be invited to speak in the series.  It was the first time I presented on my research in that room since I interviewed for the job in 2005.

Debra is a renowned Ernest Hemingway scholar, an excellent role model, and a generous friend.

Professor Joe Ponce, author of Beyond the Nation: Diasporic Filipino Literature and Queer Reading, introduced me.  We started at Ohio State together, and he has been a true friend on this remarkable journey.  I was much more emotional during and after his introduction than I expected to be.  (I couldn't hold back the tears or keep my voice from quivering.)  One of the things he shared was that I declared years ago that he and I would be stars.  Well, this endorsement of his book is more confirmation that I was right! 

Beyond the Nation is one of the most original, scrupulous, and moving books in Asian American literary criticism that has been published in the past fifteen years. -Sarita See

It was lovely to see people from all over campus and from the community. 

 It's always a joy to share the work!

For a nice feature on the DISCO website about my book and related activities, click here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Playwright Charles Smith on Black LIT Radio!

For December's Black LIT Radio, Hopeton and I had a conversation about Amiri Baraka's 1964 play Dutchman. For January, we are continuing the focus on black drama. I interviewed playwright Charles Smith about his latest work, Knock Me a Kiss, which opens in Houston this weekend and will be in Fort Worth in May. The pre-recorded interview will air MONDAY, January 28th at 8 AM Central, 9 AM Eastern on Austin's KAZI-FM 88.7 as part of KAZI Book Review with Hopeton Hay. 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. When the podcast is available, I will share it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Interviewed about First Lady Michelle Obama

The research for Living with Lynching taught me that mobs most often targeted successful black men, not criminals.  The study also examines how survivors, including wives and children, coped.  Thus, the book is very much focused on successful black families.

My next book project continues this focus while investigating black cultural production from slavery to the Age of Michelle Obama.  I was therefore pleased to contribute to the January 18, 2013 Washington Post story, “Four Years Later, Feminists Split by Michelle Obama’s ‘Work’ as First Lady

On Inauguration Day, January 21, 2013, the conversation was continued on KCRW's To the Point, a live radio show hosted by Warren Olney in Santa Monica, California.  The “Reporters Notebook” segment on Michelle Obama begins at 42:00 in the podcast.  Listen on-demand HERE.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Radio Interview (Live Call-In Show)

TODAY, January 15, 2013 at 5PM EST:  Please tune in to KGNU 88.5 FM of Boulder, CO 5pm Eastern time/3pm Mountain. I will be interviewed by Greg Rasheed about issues raised by Django Unchained and about Living with Lynching.  You can listen live online ( and CALL IN via 303-442-4242.  The show will be posted on for on-demand listening later.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Praised in a Journal Published in Spain!

A thorough review of Living with Lynching appears in the current issue of Language Value, a journal published in Spain.  What a treat to have a 9-page book review!  And the author clearly appreciated the stakes of the study and understood my investment in shifting our gaze away from strange fruit” as we try to understand the enormity of the violence.  

A few quotations: 
From this first chapter onwards Mitchell is able to deconstruct the notion of lynching as a 'scenario of exorcism’ by unmasking the white supremacist logic that supported the spectacle of brutalized black bodies.”  
What is also innovative in Mitchell’s apt reading of lynching is her shifting focus from the victimized black body to the equally victimized black family life and black home.
Her impressive reading of the plays under study asserts the richness of lynching drama, as well as its heterogeneity and plurality.
A pdf of the complete review can be downloaded directly from the journal here.

For more on the journal itself, visit here.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tayari Jones Interview Airing Again!

My interview with the lively Tayari Jones will re-air Monday, January 7th and Wednesday, January 9th, becoming available for on-demand listening shortly thereafter.  This presentation is made possible by cooperation between KAZI Book Review with Hopeton Hay, the home of Black LIT Radio, and Writers Talk at Ohio State. 

Monday (1/7) at 7 PM Eastern on WCRS radio, 98.3 & 102.1 FM, or listen online via

Wednesday (1/9) at 8 PM Eastern on WCBE radio, 90.5 FM, or listen online via

For more on KAZI Book Review, visit
For more on Writers Talk, visit