I am available to speak on race, American cool, popular music, New Orleans, and American culture more broadly. See the list of talks.

Contact directly for more information and booking.


Ted Talk: Why Cool Matters

The French have chic but Americans invented cool. The origins of this most global of American cultural concepts as embodied by Lester Young, Patti Smith, and Elvis, with sidebars to Johnny Cash, Dylan, and Prince. 

The Origins of Cool

Lester Young first invoked cool in the 1940s and the Beats crossed it over as a rebel sensibility in postwar America. Cool remains the supreme compliment of American culture: to be cool still means to have any situation under control in one's own signature style. 

New Orleans as a Cool City

Cool Jews

Hip vs. Cool: Key Concepts in American Popular Culture

The '50s origins of hip and cool as American concepts -- then how they converged in the '70s and diverged since the '90s. If hip was a streetwise philosophy of Beats, bohemians, and jazz musicians, cool was a mode of stylish stoicism and cerebral magnetism.

Is Cool Dead?

The future of cool belongs to the women of the millennial generation. The concept's potency will only survive if women find in it a key strategy of individuality in modernity. 

The US South, the Great Migration and Rock-&-Roll


The Reading LifeWWNO New Orleans 
Click for streaming web player. 


The Kojo Nnamdi Show, WAMU-FM, Washington DC, August 11, 2014
Click for streaming web player. 

Joel Dinerstein discusses the American Cool exhibit he curated at the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery.