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Cotton Tenants: Three Families by James Agee and Walker Evans

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Novelist Adam Haslett and John Summers, editior-in-chief of The Baffler, talk about a re-discovered masterpiece of reporting by James Agee and celebrated photographer Walker Evans, Cotton Tenants: Three Families. In 1941, James Agee and Walker Evans published Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, about three tenant farming families in Hale County, Alabama, at the height of the Great Depression. They originally traveled there on assignment for Fortune magazine in 1936, but a story that was never published. Fifty years after Agee’s death, his report “Cotton Tenants” was discovered. Published for the first time, it includes 30 of Walker Evans’s historic photos.

Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Walker Evans. House, Hale County, 1936.
Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Walker Evans. Floyd Burroughs, Sharecropper, 1936.
Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Walker Evans. Allie Mae Burroughs, 1936.
Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Walker Evans. Lucille Burroughs Picking, 1936.
Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Walker Evans. Buf Fields, 1936.
Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Walker Evans. Crossroads Store, 1936.
Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Walker Evans. Negro Children, 1936.
Walker Evans/Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Walker Evans. 1936.

Guests:

Adam Haslett and John Summers

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