View the archive of our 90-minute class and discover the Five Things We’ve Learned about the ways that t biography can help us better learn about thinking, writing, and living well.

Hi, I’m Nick Buccola, the author of The Fire Is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America. I am thrilled to be hosting a series of four personal conversations with leading writers about their experience of the power of the written word.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author David W. Blight will join me for this second session in this series, Five Things I’ve Learned About the Challenges and Triumphs of Writing Biography. David and I met through the study of Frederick Douglass. We share a fascination with life and legacy of Douglass and a belief that the study of such historical figures is vital to the health of our political culture. But how do we undertake such work? How do we reconstruct and tell the story of a human life? Few scholars have devoted more thought to these questions than David and in this class, we will explore his journey as a biographer in order to learn things about thinking, writing, and living well.

David is a perfect fit for this series because he has devoted his life to studying individuals who have used the written word as their primary tool to bring about social change. Douglass often described words as his “weapon” in his lifelong battle to convince Americans to live up to their ideals. In his work on the power of historical memory, David has examined how the stories we tell ourselves about our history shape our sense of responsibility in the present. And in his current work on the great writer James Weldon Johnson, David will provide the world with yet another example of how one can transform reality through the use of language.

Please join us for what I know will be an enlightening and engaging class on the challenges and triumphs of writing biography.