Aired: June 27, 2015

America The Beautiful

In this hour, we look at expressions of American patriotism from the flip side of history. We’ll learn more about African-American music celebrating the nation, the writer Ann Petry, Walt Whitman’s stint as a nurse, and Edgar Allen Poe’s softer side.

Marian Anderson Sings at Lincoln Memorial: 1939 # 3 (Image courtesy Smithsonian Institution)

  • America the Beautiful (12 min.)

    With: Benjamin Ross

    From Marian Anderson’s 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial to Marvin Gaye’s singing of the National Anthem at the NBA Finals, the theme of patriotism can be heard throughout African American music.

  • Ann Petry (14 min.)

    With: Keith Clark , George Mason University

    Published in 1946, The Street by Ann Petry was the first million-selling novel by an African American author. We look at her place among the pantheon of great American writers like James Baldwin and Toni Morrison. 

  • Walt Whitman the Nurse (13 min.)

    With: Mara Scanlon and Brady Earnhart, University of Mary Washington

    In 1862, Poet Walt Whitman went to Fredericksburg, Virginia, searching for his brother George who had been wounded in a Civil War battle.  We look at how his exposure to the carnage prompted him to work as a nurse for the rest of the war.

  • A Friendlier Poe (11 min.)

    With: Jerome McGann, University of Virginia

    19th-century poet and author Edgar Allan Poe is still considered the master of the macabre but he may have been more charming and humorous than his famous dark fiction suggests.

  • Pushing discussions of race and gender through literature

    All around the country, summer reading lists will feature the same familiar authors of the literary canon.  In recent decades, that canon has come to include a small group of black writers.  One Virginia scholar argues that it’s time to expand that group starting with the addition of Harlem writer Ann Petry.  Allison Quantz has the story.


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