Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Teaching Black Writing in Wuhan

[by Jerry W. Ward, Jr.] 

Teaching graduate students in the School of Foreign Languages at Central China Normal University is rewarding. They are less jaded and more receptive than their American peers, more conscious that a university education is a privilege rather than an entitlement dispensed by a secular god. Lacking familiarity with our democratic hypocrisies and noteworthy disdain for humanistic inquiry, most Chinese students bring innocence to the study of foreign literatures. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

HBW Open House and Jayhawk Sneak Peek Weekend

[by Meredith Wiggins]

On October 16 and 17, six prospective graduate students from across the United States visited KU as part of the second annual Jayhawk Sneak Peek Weekend, an initiative dedicated to increasing graduate student diversity in the English Department through recruiting students from traditionally under-enrolled populations.

Excited to play a part in this important weekend, HBW elected to hold our official Open House while the prospective students were in town.  Partnering with the Sneak Peek Committee to provide a brunch for visitors, we opened our office doors to the KU campus in the hopes of sharing our work with a wider audience. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Afro-Latin@ Scholars and Writers: Junot Díaz

Today, as National Hispanic Heritage Month draws to a close, the HBW Blog finishes out its series on Afro-Latin@ writers and scholars with a short consideration of Junot Díaz.

In a 2011 interview with Fox News Latino, Dominican-American novelist, essayist, and short-story writer Junot Díaz spoke candidly about how, as an immigrant growing up in New Jersey, his Afro-Latino racial and ethnic heritage left him feeling doubly alienated in U.S. American culture.

"I was neither black enough for the black kids or Dominican enough for the Dominican kids," Díaz said. "I didn’t have a safe category."

The difficulty of searching for--much less finding--a safe category or stable identity is one of the central concerns of Díaz's highly acclaimed, genre-spanning work.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

LGBT History Month: Ann Allen Shockley's Loving Her, 40 Years Later

[by Meredith Wiggins]

In honor of LGBT History Month, the HBW Blog will be featuring a series of posts on foundational queer texts by African American authors. First up: Ann Allen Shockley's Loving Her (1974).

From Nella Larsen's Passing (1929) to Toni Morrison's Sula (1973), the history of African American literature is rich with work that covertly addresses themes of lesbian desire.  These readings are now so commonly accepted that Sula, for instance, is often spoken of flatly as a "lesbian novel," even though its lesbian content is almost entirely subtextual. 

The first African American novel to deal explicitly with lesbianism was Ann Allen Shockley's Loving Her, published in 1974, just one year after Morrison's groundbreaking novel.  Although neither as artistically nor popularly successful as Sula (or Passing, for that matter), Loving Her is a tremendously important contribution to the history of African American fiction.