By Riley Jane McLaughlin
Contributor to the Underground
On Wednesday, April 23rd at Unabridged Bookstore, DePaul professor Jeremy Mulderig presented his latest published project, The Lost Autobiography of Samuel Steward. The autobiography is a compilation that Mulderig created using primarily sections from Steward’s 1979 original, unpublished, autobiographical manuscript, as well as the slim volume in which selections of autobiographical content of Steward’s were published, entitled Chapters. With the help of these two works, among other essays, novels, and sources on Samuel Steward, Mulderig produced the fascinating accomplishment that is The Lost Autobiography of Samuel Steward.
At the book launch, Mulderig introduced Samuel Steward by briefly recounting Steward’s extraordinary life. I, along with the other audience members, learned much about Steward as a person, as well as about his diverse experiences. Mulderig explained that Steward grew up with certainty of his homosexuality, and began experimenting in the sexual world at a fairly young age. He attended Ohio State University and worked as a professor before moving to Chicago and continuing his professorial work at Loyola University, and later DePaul. Besides being a professor, Steward was an author and a tattoo artist. He also shot pornographic photography and wrote gay pornography. He developed close, personal friendships with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Tolkas. He also was very sexually active; in fact, Steward kept record of his sexual activity, which included over 800 men and 4,500 encounters.
Following his debrief on Samuel Steward, Mulderig read for the audience several excerpts from the autobiography, which focused on various significant periods of Steward’s life, most of which Mulderig had mentioned or alluded to during his introductory summary. After the readings had concluded, Mulderig answered audience questions and was available for book-signings.
Overall, this book launch was fascinating and unique, informing me on a figure of DePaul’s who was previously unknown to me. What additionally made this event so special—other than the stories of the comical and bizarre happenings in Samuel Steward’s life—was Mulderig’s affection for Steward, evident in his excited oration and emotional readings.