Episode 77 with Danielle Fuentes Morgan, Professor at Santa Clara University and Expert and Nuanced Chronicler of Pop Culture through her Book, Laughing to Keep from Dying: African American Satire

7Sep

Notes and Links to References from Episode 77 with Danielle Fuentes Morgan 

 

On Episode 77, Pete is happy to welcome Danielle Fuentes Morgan, and the two talk about her reading and writing influences, and go into great detail about her nuanced and interesting and important book, Laughing to Keep from Dying: African American Satire in the Twenty-First Century.

Dr. Danielle Fuentes Morgan is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California. She specializes in African American literature and culture in the 20th and 21st centuries and is interested in the ways that literature, popular culture, and humor shape identity formation. In particular, her research and teaching reflect her interests in African American satire and comedy, literature and the arts as activism, and the continuing influence of history on contemporary articulations of Black selfhood.

Danielle has written a variety of both scholarly and popular articles and has been interviewed on topics as varied as Black Lives Matter, the dangers of the “Karen” figure, race and sexuality on the Broadway stage, and Beyoncé. Her book, Laughing to Keep from Dying: African American Satire in the Twenty-First Century (published Fall 2020 by University of Illinois Press as a part of the New Black Studies Series), addresses the contemporary role of African American satire as a critical realm for social justice.

Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications including on Racialicious and Al Jazeera, in Post-Soul Satire: Black Identity after Civil Rights, Humanities, Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, Pre/Text: A Journal of Rhetorical Theory, Journal of Science Fiction, College Literature, and Post45 Contemporaries. She is a member of the Center for the Arts and Humanities Faculty Advisory Board and has served as the Frank Sinatra Faculty Fellow for the Center working with W. Kamau Bell and Taye Diggs. 

Danielle earned her B.A. in English with a minor in African American studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.A.T. in secondary English education at Duke University. After teaching high school English, she returned to school and received an M.A. in English literature from North Carolina State University. She earned her Ph.D. in English literature from Cornell University with focuses in African American literature, African American studies, and American literature. She hails from Durham, North Carolina.

 

Buy Laughing to Keep from Dying: African American Satire in the Twenty-First Century 

 

Danielle Fuentes Morgan’s Writer Website 

At about 3:20, Danielle talks about her allegiances to The University of North Carolina 

 

At about 5:10, Danielle describes the myriad ways in which she was a “bookworm” as a kid, and how her daughter shares this love for words

 

At about 7:45, Danielle details the books that thrilled her as a kid, including The Outsiders and Anne of Green Gables, and works by Lois Duncan, Nikki Giovanni, and Eleanor E. Tate

 

At about 10:00, Danielle lists contemporary writers like Sharon Draper, and texts about kids of various backgrounds, Radiant Child about Basquiat and Front Desk by Kelly Yang, that she has enjoyed with her children

 

At about 15:00, Danielle talks about the eternal pull for her of Ponyboy Curtis and The Outsiders

 

At about 17:15, Pete asks Danielle about her relationship with pop culture as a kid, and her Uncle Kevin’s outsized impact on her pop culture experiences; she describes watching tv as an “active experience” 

 

At about 21:00, Pete asks Danielle about moments in which her desire to write for a living became manifest, including her reading of Their Eyes Were Watching God during her junior year in college and her future dissertation advisor asked a key question

 

At about 23:45, Pete and 

 

At about 24:15, Pete notes Zora Neale Hurston’s puré sense of individuality as described in Scott Ellsworth’s writing, and Danielle notes Zora’s inspiration to her, especially in the ways that Hurston wrote as an anthropologist 

 

At about 26:10, Pete and Danielle discuss the power of Hurston’s “How it Feels to be Colored Me”

 

At about 27:20, Danielle talks about writers and texts who thrill her these days, including James Baldwin, Danielle Evans and her The Office of Historical Corrections, and R. Eric Thomas 

 

At about 30:30, Danielle and Pete discuss the iconic A Separate Peace and Romeo and Juliet, texts that Danielle says really spoke to her high school students

 

At about 33:30, Pete references Natalie Lima and he discussing A Separate Peace and asks Danielle her thoughts on the book’s climactic event

 

At about 34:25, Pete asks Danielle to describe her “average” writing and teaching day

 

At about 37:00, Pete shouts out Danielle’s colleague and Pete’s first guest, fabulous SCU prof Claudia Monpere McIsaac, in asking Danielle about the status of “publish or perish” in 2021 academia

 

At about 39:10, Pete asks Danielle about her thoughts on seeing her name on a book jacket, and she describes the two events of Dave Chappelle having disappeared and Barack Obama just having been elected as the beginning of a long, serpentine process in publishing the book

 

At about 43:10, Pete and Danielle discuss satire and Danielle’s take on satire in her book

 

At about 47:10, Danielle explains the significance of the book’s title and its connection the famous saying, “laughing to keep from crying”

 

At about 47:58, Pete’s son makes a short appearance!

 

At about 49:15, Danielle responds to hearing her introduction, including the book’s thesis 

 

At about 50:50, Danielle defines and describes “post-black” as used in the book and how it differs from “post-racial”

 

At about 52:45, Danielle discusses the reexamination of minstrel shows and blackface in earlier times, as now often seen as winking, nodding

 

At about 55:00, Danielle and Pete reflect on Richard Pryor’s stunning and profound ending for his comedy album, the ending of Danielle’s introduction

 

At about 57:00, Pete points out a parallel in a Dave Chappelle skit in which there is a moment of seriousness juxtaposed against a comedic scene

 

At about 58:25, Danielle and Pete discuss the first chapter of the book, which brings in Tarantino’s Django, (and he shouts out Traci and The Stacks Podcast and its strong interview of Quentin Tarantino) discussed by Danielle for the film’s misses  

 

At about 1:03:15, Pete asks Danielle if the premise was flawed from the beginning for Django, and Danielle talks about ways in which slaves were given humanity in Octavia Butler’s work and Key and Peele

 

At about 1:05:20, Danielle describes Jordan Anderson’s stunning work and post-slavery story, a part of the book

 

At about 1:07:20, Danielle talks about ayo’s work in satire, “How tas described in the book

 

At about 1:08:40, Danielle talks about her book’s second chapter and ideas about race as a construct, including “Blackness” being put up for sale on EBay by Keith Obadike as performance and activist art

 

At about 1:10:40, Danielle juxtaposes the book and movie versions of Precious and how satire fell a little flat in the movie (lesser so in the book)

 

At around 1:13:35, 

 

At about 1:14:00, Pete and Danielle discuss her chapter on the performative, which touches upon Erasure by Percival Everett, an episode of Atlanta, and Barack Obama’s “dad jeans,” as well as a piece by Touré

 

At about 1:16:10, Chapter Three is discussed, with its focus on satirical misfires, and when “keeping it real goes wrong”; Danielle details Chris Rock and Leslie Jones and their hiccups; “in group” and “out group” is probed

 

At about 1:19:55, Pete and Danielle discuss Chapter Four, starting with Get Out and its connection to Bell’s 1992 poetry; Danielle discusses her visceral reaction to her first viewing of the movie 

 

At about 1:23:10, Danielle highlights the standout points from Issa Rae’s Insecure and its focus on agency and platonic love with and among Black women

 

At about 1:24:55, Danielle discusses the last chapter of her book, its focus on Dave Chappelle and his SNL skit (with Chris Rock) and statement right after Donald Trump’s election victory, as well as the future of African-American satire and humor

 

At about 1:30:10, Danielle explains “just jokes” and the idea of doing satire in the chaotic world of 2021-the basis of the end of the book-with some reflections on what can be done to continue productive satire in the future

 

At about 1:31:55, Danielle details future projects, including the ever-decreasing line between comedy and horror in the 21st century

 

At about 1:33:10, Danielle shouts out Brian Tyree Henry and Donald Glover and their greatness 

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