Archived Event

Culinary and cultural historian Michael W. Twitty will present the 2020 Wilma Dykeman Stokely Memorial Lecture on Tuesday, February 11, at 7 p.m. at The Press Room, 730 N. Broadway, Knoxville. Twitty will talk about his Cooking Gene Project, with special reference to African-American heritage foods in Tennessee. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Twitty is the author of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, which was both the 2018 James Beard Foundation Book of the Year and the 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Award Winner in Writing. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the lecture, and the author will be available to sign books after he speaks.

Twitty is also the creator of Afroculinaria, an award-winning blog that explores the culinary traditions of Africa, African America, and the African diaspora. His interests include food culture, food history, Jewish cultural issues, African-American history, and cultural politics.

The lecture is hosted by Friends of the Knox County Public Library and the Library Society of the University of Tennessee. Other sponsors are the Knox County Public Library, the Knox County Public Library Foundation, the East Tennessee Historical Society, The Press Room, Union Ave Books, UT Libraries, and WUOT. The lecture honors the late Wilma Dykeman Stokely (1920–2006), writer, speaker, teacher, historian, environmentalist, and long-time friend of the Knox County Public Library. Her papers are part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and Archives at the University of Tennessee Libraries.

Michael W. Twitty in the Media

Chrissy Keuper’s interview with Michael W. Twitty on WUOT (February 11, 2020)

A Black Food Historian Explores His Bittersweet Connection to Robert E. Lee (The Salt, NPR, September 5, 2017)

Praise for Michael W. Twitty and The Cooking Gene

“Twitty has accomplished something remarkable with The Cooking Gene…. It’s a book to save, reread, and share until everyone you know has a working understanding of the human stories and pain behind some of America’s most foundational and historically significant foods.” — Christian Science Monitor

“Should there ever be a competition to determine the most interesting man in the world, Michael W. Twitty would have to be considered a serious contender.” — Washington Post

“Written in Michael W. Twitty’s no-nonsense style and interlaced with moments of levity, The Cooking Gene is gritty, compelling, and enlightening — a mix of personal narrative and the history of race, politics, economics and enslavement that will broaden notions of African-American culinary identity.” — Toni Tipton-Martin, James Beard Award-winning author of The Jemima Code

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