This Joke Is About Me, and I Am Uncomfortable

March events and an essaying live discussion

A few years ago I was feeling myself. I had a couple awards and a book and a little bit of tenure. I decided to stop doing Black History Month events at universities that did not invite me any other month of the year. “I’ll show them!” Now my Februaries have peace…and my Marches are chaos. It is a joke because, you see, I study intersectionality but forgot that I am both Black and a woman.

March, or Women’s History Month, is beating me up but good this year. There’s a lot going on in March. This time last year I was back from a stint in California, watching events fall off the calendar. Things change but they also stay the same.

I am fresh off a named lecture at the University of North Dakota as I send you this newsletter. This weekend I’m speaking at my alma mater, North Carolina Central University, for their Women’s History Month programming. Next Wednesday I am at University of Michigan for a talk on modern discourse, moderated by Dr. Celeste Watkins-Hayes. We’ve also got an event  at Lafayette College, where I’ll deliver the Hatfield Lecture. Who knew you could be this busy from home?

More news: we will have our first live event with Dr. Jessie Wilkerson, professor of Appalachia and the South and author of this longread on Dolly Parton. Jessie’s essay on Dolly is one of the few critical reflections on Dolly’s class politics. It was the essay everyone wanted me to read when I asked for recommendations. I read the essay when it was first released and always intended to revisit it. I’m looking forward to chatting it up with Jessie about writing around love and fandom. Also? Jessie and Tressie! We rhyme.

This event will be informal, like one of those dinner parties I mentioned where we eat and drink and talk and cuss. No academic jargon or pretentiousness, just a good time with good conversation. Look out for the link to sign up, coming soon.

I love the conversation happening in our Open Discussion Thread. If you haven’t already considering subscribing, ODTs are a subscription feature. My top three topics so far in the All About Dolly ODT, in random order:

  1. Did she say “little white asses” or “lily white asses”?

  2. The class politics of Michelle Obama’s bare arms.

  3. Dolly statues as confederate apologia

ODTs are where you can ask me questions you might not get an answer to on Twitter, engage with arguments I did not make in the essay, and discuss your own connections to Dolly, the cultural object. Hope to see you over there.

Podcast discussion thread

I said on socials this week that the Dolly Parton’s America podcast was not satisfying for me because the series hadn’t slutted it up, a euphemism for deep reading to nail down your argument. I know a lot of people loved the podcast. Do people love it because it does what Dolly does: soothes the part of us that doesn’t want the American South to be racist? I am opening a new ODT to talk about that podcast. Did you listen? Want to listen again? What did you think? What do you wish the podcast had done more or less of? Subscribers can chime in here.