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‘Overlooked generation’ focus of new book by ETSU professor

Staff Report • Jun 4, 2013 at 10:19 AM

JOHNSON CITY — An East Tennessee State University history professor has published a book giving voice to a generation some say is often ignored.

Generation X — the group of 46 million Americans born between 1965-1979 — has traditionally received little attention, said Dr. Elwood Watson, who is doing his part to change all that with “Generation X Professors Speak: Voices From Academia,” a book just released by Scarecrow Press.

“While the baby boomer generation, and more recently, the Millennials, have been the subject of ongoing attention from the mainstream media, think tanks, consumer markets and other avenues of American society, very little coverage has been given to Generation X,” Watson said. “Aside from a brief period of attention in the 1990s, this is a group of individuals that cultural critic and Generation X expert Jeff Gordinier refers to as ‘the overlooked generation.’”

These individuals, Watson asserts, “are becoming increasingly more visible and important in all sectors of American society, including academia.”

In his new book, Watson has assembled a collection of 11 essays written by several Generation X professors and administrators, including himself, that “demonstrate the personal situations, conflicts and triumphs that are definitive of this often forgotten age demographic.” The pieces cover topics ranging from career, class, family life, divorce, health, music and physical disabilities to race, religion and sexuality.

“These essays define the characteristics and diversity that are evident in this generation,” he said.

Watson teaches history, African American studies and gender studies at ETSU. He is the co-editor of four anthologies and the sole editor of five, as well as the author and co-author of several scholarly articles. His book, “Outsiders Within: Black Women in the Legal Academy after Brown v. Board,” was published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2008. He serves on the editorial board of “The Journal of American Culture.”

In addition, Watson is a member of the American Culture/Popular Culture Association board of directors and serves as area chair of Generation X for the organization’s conference. He is also a contributor and blogger to the websites Diverse Issues in Higher Education (diverseeducation.com), XY online (xyonline.net) and BlackPast.org.

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