2021-22 McAndless Professor Kevin Boyle
Dr. Kevin Boyle
The 2021-22 McAndless Professor is Dr. Kevin Boyle, the William Smith Mason Professor of American History at Northwestern University. Boyle is a Detroit native and a historian of Detroit. His publications include The UAW and the Heyday of American Liberalism, 1945-1968; Muddy Boots and Ragged Aprons: Images of Working-Class Detroit, 1900-1930 (with Victoria Getis); Organized Labor and American Politics, 1894-1994; and Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age, which received the National Book Award for nonfiction, The Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Tolerance Book Award. It was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and was selected for community-wide reading programs in the Detroit metropolitan area and the state of Michigan. Netflix has purchased the rights to Arc of Justice and will bring its story of Detroit civil rights pioneer Dr. Ossian Sweet to viewers around the world.
Boyle recently received the prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholars Fellowship to complete work on two forthcoming books: The Splendid Dead: An American Ordeal and The Shattering: America in the 1960s, which explore immigration and race in the twentieth century and seek to make academic scholarship accessible to a broad range of readers.
During each of his three visits to EMU, Dr. Boyle will deliver a public lecture on Thursday evening and lead workshops with EMU students on Friday. The topics and dates of his talks will be:
"Ossian Sweet's Life and Legacy," Thursday, October 14, 2021
5:00 p.m.: Book Signing & Reception, Student Center Ballroom Lounge
6:00 p.m., Book Talk, Student Center Ballroom
Boyle will tell the story of Ossian Sweet, a Black doctor in 1920s-Detroit who moved into a White neighborhood with his wife and infant child. They were attacked by a mob, and in the violence that followed, one of the attackers was shot and killed. In one of the most famous trials of the 1920s, Sweet was acquitted of murder on grounds of self-defense. Boyle will examine the legacies of racial violence in the urban north, making crucial links to twenty-first century politics. Boyle's talk will draw on his book Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age, winner of the National Book Award.
Student Workshop: "Researching & Writing Detroit History," Friday, October 15, 2021
11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m., Student Center, Room 300
Boyle will lead a conversation about resources and methods for researching the history of Detroit. Cider and donuts will be served.
"History as Narrative: The 1960s," Thursday, November 4, 2021
5:00 p.m., Student Center Auditorium
Drawing on his new book The Shattering: America in the 1960s (2021), Boyle will trace this tumultuous decade through the stories of the men and women who lived through it. The 1960s were marked by fierce conflicts over issues of race, war, and sex. By focusing on the leaders and foot soldiers of these iconic social movements that threatened to tear the nation apart, Boyle’s talk will illuminate new insights into current political divisions.
Student Workshop: "The Craft of Narrative in Academic Writing," Friday, November 5, 2021
11:00 a.m.- 12:15 p.m., Strong 211
Boyle will discuss the craft of narrative in his writing. Bring a page of your own writing and you will be paired with another student to discuss the writing process. Cider and donuts will be served.
"Civil Rights History on Film," Thursday, January 27, 2022
5:00 p.m., Student Center Auditorium
Please join us in the Student Center Auditorium or watch our Zoom livestream. Register for the Zoom Webinar at: https://emich.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_k9JVbuLRS0yJ5xJiYwhQ5Q
Boyle will assess the ways that Hollywood and smaller studios have captured iconic episodes in the Black freedom movement. Some of these films have been historically accurate, while others have promoted false narratives. In this talk, Boyle discusses three recent films that examine racial violence, interracial marriage, and the Black Power movement: 4 Little Girls (1997), Loving (2016), and Judas and the Black Messiah (2021). Boyle is the historical consultant for a Netflix project for a film based in his award-winning book, Arc of Justice.
Student Workshop: "Translating History Into Cinema," Friday, January 28, 2022
11:00 a.m.- 12:15 p.m., Pray Harrold 219. Join us in Pray Harrold or on Zoom at https://emich.zoom.us/j/87968048198
Join a conversation about Boyle's work as a historical consultant on the upcoming Netflix bio of Ossian Sweet. Boyle will discuss the challenges of translating history onto the big screen. Refreshments will be served.