Harman Writer-In-Residence, Spring 2013
Hilton Als became a staff writer at The New Yorker in October 1994, and a theatre critic in 2002. He began contributing to the magazine in 1989, writing pieces for The Talk of the Town.
Before coming to The New Yorker, Als was a staff writer for the Village Voice and an editor-at-large at Vibe. He has also written articles for The Nation and collaborated on film scripts for “Swoon” and “Looking for Langston.”
Als edited the catalogue for the Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition entitled “Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art,” which ran from November 1994 to March 1995. His first book, “The Women,” a meditation on gender, race, and personal identity, was published in 1996.
In 1997, the New York Association of Black Journalists awarded Als first prize in both Magazine Critique/Review and Magazine Arts and Entertainment. He was awarded a Guggenheim for creative writing in 2000 and the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for 2002-03. In 2009, Als worked with the performer Justin Bond on “Cold Water,” an exhibition of paintings, drawings, and videos by performers, at La MaMa Gallery. In 2010, he co-curated “Self-Consciousness,” at the Veneklasen Werner Gallery in Berlin, and published “Justin Bond/Jackie Curtis,” his second book. Hilton Als’ new book, “White Girls,” will be published by McSweeney’s later this year.
Als has taught at Yale University, Wellesley, Wesleyan, and Smith College. He lives in New York City.
Looking back, I find that I am repeatedly drawn to certain themes and stories, and the vast majority center on lives lived in the margins. How do women, people of color, gay men and women, and other similarly disenfranchised, find their voice in a society that, while sometimes “tolerant” of issues of difference, rarely incorporate said voices in the national dialogue? For the most part, my writing focuses on those lives that the status quo doesn’t necessarily recognize. To quote the great American photographer, Diane Arbus: “I just feel that there are certain things people wouldn’t see unless I photographed them.” The loftiness of her claim aside, I understand Arbus’ sentiment: to give difference its due is an act of excavation; people who are marginalized tend to have been brutalized in one way or another, and, having been treated badly, tend to hide, and it’s the work of the dedicated writer (or photographer) to find his or her subject out.
—From “The Red Dress,” the New York Review of Books
A Reading and Conversation with Hilton Als
A reading and conversation with Hilton Als will take place on March 19, 2013 at 5:45 p.m. in the Ariel and Marie Rackow Conference Room, room 750, Information and Technology Building, Baruch College; co-sponsored by Poets & Writers.
Hilton Als published his most recent book “White Girls” in November 2013. He also spoke at CUNY Macaulay Honors College on May 7, 2015, as part of the William R. Kenan Lectures on Ethics and Resistance.