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Professor Callahan discusses American history, politics in magazine profile

January 21, 2011

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Morgan S. Odell Professor of Humanities John Callahan discusses his upcoming novel, The Learning Room, and his work as Ralph Ellison’s literary executor in this profile in 1859 Oregon’s Magazine.

Callahan recalls how he first met Ralph Ellison and how his work with Ellison’s manuscripts, computer printouts, discs, and notes eventually led to the publication of Ellison’s long-awaited second novel, Three Days Before the Shooting…, in 2010, more than 15 years after Ellison passed away. Learn more about the publication and Callahan’s collaboration with Adam Bradley B.A. ’96 in the Lewis & Clark Chronicle.

Reflecting on Invisible Man’s sustained relevance in his discussion with 1859 Oregon’s Magazine, Callahan notes the public response to Barack Obama:

“It’s so much easier to overlook individuality and the real work of digging beneath the superficial to discover a person and instead click another person off on some chart of demographics as Invisible Man finds that those he encounters do with him. Hell, consider Barack Obama. The response of many to him and his complexity—his blackness and whiteness. Anything and everything is better than considering him as one more individual human being with all the contingencies that go with human complexity.”

Nationally known for his scholarly work in African American literature, Callahan published the novel A Man You Could Love in 2007. Learn more about his upcoming novel in 1859 Oregon’s Magazine.

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