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Dr. Khalid Long Receives August Wilson Archive Grant


Dr. Khalid Y. Long was chosen among a select group of scholars, artists, and educators to receive funding to explore the new August Wilson Archive at the University of Pittsburgh. Wilson is a celebrated playwright known for his 10-play American Century Cycle which chronicles the African American experience throughout the Twentieth Century. His plays include Fences and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

The newly acquired collection features several unseen texts from playwright August Wilson's personal archive, including rough drafts of his Century Cycle plays, unpublished drafts of non-Century Cycle plays, correspondence between Wilson and several of his contemporaries, and journals of his writing. Dr. Long and the other invitees are tasked with examining the archives to deepen an understanding of Wilson’s life and work. Dr. Long will travel to Pittsburgh in January and spend several days in the archives. He will then present his findings for "Encounters in the August Wilson Archive," an event jointly hosted by the August Wilson Society and the University of Pittsburgh Library System (ULS) set to take place on Thursday, March 2, 2023. 

Dr. Long views this as an opportunity to both expand August Wilson Studies as well as provide greater context for his forthcoming edited anthology, August Wilson in Context, a collection of essays on August Wilson for Cambridge University Press' "Literature in Context" series, co-edited with Dr. Isaiah M. Wooden (Swarthmore College). Scheduled to be published in 2024, the book aims to explicate further the conditions and circumstances that informed and enhanced the making of Wilson’s artistic output. In addition to co-editing the anthology, Dr. Long will have two chapters featured in the collection: “Redefining American Theatre: August Wilson and David Henry Hwang” and “Wilson, Bessie Smith, and the Blues.” 

The August Wilson Archive will reside in a state-of-the-art home in Hillman Library’s renovated Archives & Special Collections. It contains significant physical and digital exhibition space, an expansive reading room, and a large classroom, allowing for hands-on interaction with these and other materials. The items, more than 450 boxes of materials, document a wide array of Wilson’s career and interests from the 1960s to the 2010s. Included are scripts and production materials for his American Century Cycle plays, Wilson’s library and music collection, artwork, poetry, unpublished work, non-Cycle plays, speeches, essays, and interviews. Materials range from audio recordings, awards and degrees, books, correspondence, newspapers, and magazines to notebooks, writing tablets, photographs, posters, production designs, props, scripts, and video recordings.

The archives will significantly augment the Pittsburgh legacy of Wilson’s life and work, already celebrated through the August Wilson African American Cultural in Downtown Pittsburgh and the August Wilson House, the playwright’s childhood home on Bedford Avenue in the Hill District.

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