American Studies

Scott Saul Professor - English

I enjoy writing for both academic and popular audiences. My latest book, BECOMING RICHARD PRYOR (HarperCollins, 2014), offers the first deeply researched account of the great performer’s life. More information about me and the book can be found at
BECOMING RICHARD PRYOR also has a digital companion at a fully curated, multi-media website that opens up the biographer’s workshop and gives everyone access to the materials I’ve uncovered over 200 documents from Pryor’s first two decades in Peoria, Illinois.
My interests run to the great cultural watershed that was modernism in the arts — whether it took the form of William Carlos Williams’s poetry, Charlie Chaplin’s films, or Duke Ellington’s music — and to the starburst of creative activity that has followed up to the present. I’m especially interested in the connections between 20th-century artistic movements and 20th-century social movements or, on the individual level, how particular artists are catalyzed by the history they are living through.
I generally teach courses in 20th-century American literature and cultural history, ranging from “The Culture of the Cold War” and “The Seventies” to “Fictions of Los Angeles,” “American Avant-Gardes” and “Race and Performance in the 20th-century U.S.”.
I also am host of “Chapter & Verse,” a books-and-arts podcast. Please visit to listen to an episode or find out more about the show.