The Irene and Curry Roberts Lecture
Dolly Parton is having a moment in popular culture, from lifetime achievement awards to adulation from much younger generations. Reduced to jokes about her figure over decades of her impressive career, Parton is finally being recognized as a creative genius and a trailblazer for her gender. What does her emergence as a uniquely unifying figure--a woman in her 70s, beloved across demographics--tell us about this polarized moment in the fractured American society?
Speaker: Sarah Smarsh
Sarah Smarsh is a journalist who has covered socioeconomic class, politics and public policy for The New York Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Harper’s and many other publications. Her first book, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth (Scribner, 2018), was an instant New York Times bestseller, a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Chicago Tribune Literary Award. Smarsh’s second book, She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs (Scribner, 2020), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
A former Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and former writing professor, Smarsh is a frequent speaker and commentator on economic inequality. She lives in Kansas.