Carlo Rotella – “Doing it Right: On the Greatness of Magic Slim”
Scott Saul – “‘Wrong is Perfect’: Richard Pryor’s Breakthrough Year in Berkeley”

We are honored to be able to bring together Scott Saul (Berkeley) and Carlo Rotella (Boston College) to share their groundbreaking interdisciplinary work with the Princeton community. Both Saul and Rotella have written extensively on the cultural implications of virtuosity, linking questions of artistic craft to broader social and historical contexts.

Scott Saul is Associate Professor of English at Berkeley.  His work focuses on the intersections of twentieth-century artistic and social movements.  His book Freedom is, Freedom Ain’t: Jazz and the Making of the Sixties places jazz at the center of that decade’s radical cultural transformations.  He is currently at work on two book-length projects.  The first, Becoming Richard Pryor, is a critical biography that meditates on the roots and innovations of Pryor’s comedy, untangling his relationships with Bill Cosby, Ishmael Reed, George Carlin, Lily Tomlin, Gene Wilder, and others.  The second, “I Take My Desires for Reality”: Pop Music and the Global 1968, looks at musician-provocateurs from around the world—Caetano Veloso, Serge Gainsbourg, Bob Marley, Yoko Ono and more—who played a crucial role in the countercultural left of the late 1960s.

Carlo Rotella is Associate Professor of English at Boston College, where he is Director of the American Studies Program.  Rotella is a specialist in twentieth century American literature whose work centers on questions of urbanism and deindustrialization.  He is the author of October Cities: The Redevelopment of Urban Literature, which explores narratives of urban decline in the work of Nelson Algren, Claude Brown, and Gwendolyn Brooks.  His more recent books, Cut Time: An Education at the Fights and Good with Their Hands: Boxers, Bluesmen, and Other Characters from the Rust Belt, pursue questions about craft and virtuosity in precincts ranging from boxing to crime stories to the Chicago blues.  A writer who addresses both scholarly and lay audiences, he has been published in Critical Inquiry, American Quarterly, The American Scholar, Raritan, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, Transition, Harper’s, DoubleTake, Boston, Slate, The Believer, TriQuarterly, Yale Alumni Magazine, and The Best American Essays.  Rotella is also an editor of the “Chicago Visions and Revisions” series at the University of Chicago Press.