Wednesday, December 27, 2023

An origin story for Remarkable Receptions podcast

A little over 20 years ago, as a graduate student, I began thinking more seriously about bibliographic work. Three projects, in particular, occupied my time. For one, I studied the extensive bibliographies created by Richard Wright scholars, most notable of which was Keneth Kinnamon. Second, I was searching and developing bibliographic sources on the Black Arts Movement, which years later, would become my first book. And then, at the same time, in around 2000, I began developing a bibliography on one of my favorite writers, Colson Whitehead.  

I didn't fully realize it back then, but by examining and creating bibliographies on various writers and subjects, I was tracking reception. My bibliographic work would've likely continued in private, but then, in 2008, I created this blog. 

What began as reports on my work with Black Studies began a site for covering various topics related to African American literature, especially Black poetry.  In addition to writing about poems and poets, I was also tracking responses to the artform and thus extending my bibliographic work and reception studies. 

In July 2010, I published a blog entry, "The Coverage of The Boondocks," charting some of the responses from commentators concerning the final season of The Boondocks. The next year, I began compiling various "coverage of" roundups, citing reviews and commentary on volumes of poetry, novels,  nonfiction books, and events, like responses to Michelle Obama dancing as part of her "Let's Move" campaign.

But most important, in April 2011, I produced an entry "The Coverage of Manning Marable and Malcolm X" focused on the scholar, who had just died, and his biography on Malcolm. The entry included notices on Marable's passing, remembrances of him and his work, reviews of the Malcolm X biography, and media compositions about the subjects. I was intrigued by that incredible reception. 

I continued producing "coverage of" entries tracking the receptions of various cultural products. In 2012, I compiled the prolific writing from Trymaine Lee and Ta-Nehisi Coates on Trayvon Martin, and on August 12, 2014, I began creating an even more extensive bibliographic record on coverage related to Mike Brown

The next year, I published an entry, "Coverage of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Between the World and Me," which followed previous "coverage of" entries that I produced on Coates's work, including coverage on his Case for Reparations article. Thus, when someone asked me to publish an article about Coates's Between the World and Me, I knew I wanted to highlight the responses to his works in general. My article "The Remarkable Reception of Ta-Nehisi Coates," appeared in the fall 2016 issue of African American Review, and beyond Coates, the phrasing remarkable receptions gave me a way to frame my interests and practices tracking notable or vibrant responses to various works.  

I'm not exactly sure when -- maybe the 2010s or so -- but I began listening to podcasts on a regular. I was fascinated by the use of audio to tell stories and present information. 

Alright, so in early 2021, when I got a chance to work with a group to pitch ideas for an African American literature project, I immediately proposed that one element of that overall project should be a podcast. It didn't take long for me to settle on a title and purpose -- Remarkable Receptions, a podcast charting popular and critical responses to African American literature and other cultural productions. 


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