Jesmyn Ward to lecture on Southern oral traditions at Tulane March 19

National Book Award-winning author and Tulane professor Jesmyn Ward will present the fourth annual Distinguished Frey Lecture at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, in the Woldenberg Art Center’s Freeman Auditorium on Tulane University’s campus.

The Delisle, Mississippi, native is the author most recently of Men We Reaped, a memoir that recounts the deaths of five young African-American men in her life within the context of race and class in the South. Her lecture Thursday will focus on the storytelling traditions that inform and influence her work.

“I will talk about what it was like to grow up with stories that reflected the racism and sexism and poverty that I saw around me,” Ward said, “and what that taught and continues to teach me about what it means to be a writer who writes about the Black experience in the American South.” Ward said the stories she heard growing up both reflected and helped her navigate the region’s racism, sexism, and poverty.

In addition to Men We Reaped—which was named one of the Best Books of 2013 by the New York TimesNPR, and Time Magazine (among many other media outlets) and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography—Ward is also author of the novel Salvage the Bones, which won the 2011 National Book Award, and Where the Line Bleeds (2009), her debut novel that won a VCU First Novelist Award and was an Essence magazine Book Club selection.

The Frey Lecture Series is presented by the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South at Tulane University. Other Frey lecturers have included historian Ira Berlin and musicologists Elijah Wald and Sherrie Tucker.