Pitt hosts Homewood-born author



The School of Social Work’s Pitt-Assisted Communities & Schools collaborated with the Humanities Center to host a nationally-renowned author at Pitt. John Edgar Wideman, a prolific writer who hails from the Homewood community of Pittsburgh, visited as part of a community engagement effort between Pitt and a number of community-based partners. Wideman has written 20-plus books over the last 50 years, a number of which are set in Homewood. As part of his visit, Wideman visited Homewood’s Westinghouse Academy for a conversation with students who had read a sample of his works in their English classes. John Edgar Wideman also participated in a community conversation at the Homewood library, hosted by the United Black Book Clubs of Pittsburgh. 

 

One highlight of the visit was a special interdisciplinary, cross-boundary conversation between Wideman and students from Pitt and from Westinghouse. The students had all read Wideman’s book, Brother's and Keepers, which is the story of Wideman and his brother Robby. Robby is currently serving a life sentence in a local prison. The Pitt participants were students in a Seminar Composition course and a Social Work course, taught by Dan Kubis and Keith Caldwell, respectively. The high school students were in Marc Stern’s 12th grade AP English class at Westinghouse. Westinghouse students participated as part of a partnership with Pitt-Assisted Communities and Schools, a program that works with schools in Homewood to support enhanced learning opportunities. The conversation between Wideman and the students centered on personal stories, with a discussion of themes in the book related to identity and social justice.

The main event of the visit was a conversation between Wideman and Kubis at the Carnegie Library Main Branch in front of 500 plus members of the Pittsburgh community. The talk is featured as part of the podcast, Being Human, hosted by Dan Kubis, of the Humanities Center. Wideman's visit to Pittsburgh was generously supported by the Humanities Center, the School of Social Work, and various units and faculty members on campus. Wideman's career is being celebrated this year as part of a collective effort by local universities and non-profits, including Duquesne University, Pitt, the Carnegie Public Library, and the Heinz History Center, among others.