Doug Hunt's essays examine a large subject close at hand: the city in
which he lives. "Columbia,
Missouri, is a
University town with pretensions to enlightenment, but it is also the capital of
'Little Dixie,'" Hunt says. Since 2003, he has been at work on a series of
five narrative essays that walk the reader forward from Columbia's slavery era to present-day law
enforcement. In 2004, the Missouri Review published the first of
these essays, "A Course in Applied Lynching," which recounts in
harrowing detail the lynching of a man named James Scott at the edge of the University of Missouri campus in 1923. The essay
was listed as a "notable essay" in that year's Best American Essays.
Now self-published as a short book titled Summary Justice, the essay has
been instrumental in bringing together a coalition of black and white Columbians
who are re-examining Scott's lynching and placing a proper gravestone on his
Another group of essays that may lead to a second book illustrate Columbia's social history by focusing on three
generations of its founding family, tracing the town's violent beginnings and
its later attempts to turn away from social and physical violence and become
more democratic and progressive.
Hunt's turn to the non-fiction essay followed a career in academia as a
teacher of composition and the author of a successful series of textbooks with
Houghton Mifflin (The Dolphin Reader, The Riverside Guide to Writing,
The Riverside Anthology of Literature) and an ethnographic study of
teaching and learning, Misunderstanding the Assignment.