New York State Writers Institute

Margo Jefferson
February 2, 2006
4:15 p.m. Informal Seminar
Assembly Hall, Campus Center
8:00 p.m. Reading
Recital Hall, PAC

UAlbany, Uptown Campus
On Michael Jackson

Margo Jefferson, critic-at-large for the "New York Times," and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, is the author of "On Michael Jackson" (2006), a witty, erudite, incisive, passionate, and highly original meditation on the embattled pop star's significance. The book seeks to explain how Jackson has become one of the most important cultural icons of the age, and why the world is captivated by his eccentricities, excessive lifestyle, elaborate costumes, childlike manner, musical gifts and physical alterations, as well as his sexual and racial ambiguities.

"smart volume of cultural analysis" - "Publishers Weekly"

"one smart little book. . . Replete with exegesis of Jackson's exceptional dancing and his great music videos and how they derive from African American entertainment traditions and relate to Jackson and his public's fascinations. . ." - "Booklist"

Jefferson is widely admired for her probing insights into experimental theater, music and art, as well as pop and African American culture. Jefferson joined the "New York Times" in 1993 as a critic on the culture desk, became the Sunday theater critic in 1995, and was appointed critic-at-large in 1996. Prior to that, she served as associate editor at "Newsweek," and as contributing editor at "Vogue" and "7 Days." Her criticism has also appeared in "The Village Voice," "The Nation," "Harper's," and "Grand Street." She received the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1995.

Roots of Time

With Elliot P. Skinner, Jefferson is co-author of the young adult nonfiction book, "Roots of Time: A Portrait of African Life and Culture" (1990). She is currently working on two books: one, an experiment in "cultural autobiography," combining memoir and cultural criticism; the other, a collection of essays on issues of race, gender, and the hybridization of American culture. She recently participated in a three-way performance collaboration, "Unfinished Stories," with musician and conceptual artist DJ Spooky, and dancer-choreographer Francesca Harper.

Jefferson has served as Professor of Journalism at NYU, and as lecturer in literature and pop culture at Columbia University. She is currently a member of the Liberal Studies faculty at the New School for Social Research.