Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

The Crafts of Freedom

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Mountaintop speech was more than brilliant rhetorical art; it was also the culmination of a lifetime spent in intense and extensive reading

April 2, 2015 We rightly associate Martin Luther King Jr.’s oratorical eloquence with his vocation as a Baptist minister, following his father and grandfather before him. But King also emerged from the rhetorical tradition of the liberal arts, transforming the sources with which he engaged throughout his too-brief life.

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Happiness Is a Sad Song

Dr. Ralph Stanley discusses his 63 years in music

From the Chapter 16 archive: When he was a child, he was often called “the boy with the hundred year old voice.” In his book Man of Constant Sorrow, Stanley recounts a career spanning six decades and millions of miles.

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Engaging Ontogeny—and Animal Sex

Michael Sims discusses biological and literary creativity

From the Chapter 16 archive: Where do babies come from? It may be a child’s question, but the answer is far from simple, especially if we consider the baby-making processes of the whole animal kingdom, as Michael Sims does in his companion to the National Geographic Channel’s television special of the same name, In the Womb: Animals. It features ultrasound images of fetal animals that are so detailed and vivid it’s almost hard to believe they aren’t simulations.

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Multiple Souths

Anjali Enjeti considers her identity in an evolving region in Southbound

In the final pages of Southbound, Anjali Enjeti’s collection of essays on identity, race, and Southern politics, the author poses one simple but thorny question that looms like a ghost over much of the work: “Who am I?”

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In Between One Thing and Another

Alexander Chee illuminates the writing life in How To Write An Autobiographical Novel

In his powerful essay collection, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, Alexander Chee charts his own history as a writer and invites readers into a close engagement with the process of writing a novel from personal materials. Chee will appear at a virtual event hosted by Vanderbilt University on November 12.

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Skin Deep

Nell Irvin Painter talks with Chapter 16 about The History of White People, the relationship between sex and beauty, and the necessity of the Black Lives Matter movement

Prior to her 2015 lecture at Rhodes College, historian Nell Irvin Painter talked with Chapter 16 about how the concept of race entered human consciousness, why notions of beauty are so inextricably linked to sex, and how contemporary readers should accommodate for historical wrong-headedness. 

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