Just got back from a wonderful literary conference at Penn State called "Celebrating Contemporary African-American Novels since 1988" It was fabulous--the level of discourse, as the theorists like to say and the excitement about engaging seriously with literature was truly inspiring. This conference was particularly exciting because I, Mat Johnson and Alice Randall were all there as contemporary practitioners, mixing it up with the theorists. Here are some photographs and impressions from a fellow conferencee (and Penn State prof.)
Particularly impressive was the level of thought that went into the various papers presented--check out these abstracts. I was also in attendance at a panel on teaching Af-Am literature that raised interesting questions about how to engage with the place of hip-hop literature in the class room--does it have one? If so, what is its place? As uncomfortable as it might make some of us, students coming up have this literature as a frame of reference. They've got to be taught to look at it thoughtfully. Also interesting was a panel on pedagogy that looked at a number of ways that contemporary texts can be taught--I was particularly interested in the various approaches taken.
All in all, the conference was a beautiful thing. I can't wait until the next one.
Cloister Ekphrastic Free Verse
4 months ago