VIRTUAL Lecture Series: The Black American Literary Experience

 Monday, July 27, 2020 - Wednesday, July 29  
Virtual: Zoom

These 90-minute virtual lectures are held at 10:30 a.m. Monday-Thursday through Zoom, an online conferencing service.

The Black American Literacy Experience (July 27-29)
Philathia Bolton, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Akron, historicizes and explores the continued relevance of debates connected to the purpose of Black American literature.

Supplemental Resources

Monday, July 27

10:30 a.m. The Pen So Mighty: Historicizing Black American Literature

In this introductory lecture, Philathia Bolton, PhD, will offer historical context for contemporary interpretations of Black American literature, including cinematic representations of the narratives. She will lend attention to the prevailing significance of the protest tradition and to the general relationship Black Americans have had with storytelling as a political necessity. This lecture intends to offer for consideration an answer as to why stories by Black writers appear to be burdened with certain expectations of representation in ways that works by others are not.

Bolton teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in African American literature and culture at the University of Akron. She serves on the Advisory Committee for the Pan-African Studies Program and is an affiliate faculty member of the Women Studies Program. Her research interests more broadly involve women writers, the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and critical race studies. Bolton is a co-editor of Teaching with Tension: Race, Resistance, and Reality in the Classroom and is the author of an essay in the same volume. Bolton received her PhD in American studies from Purdue University and is an alumna of Spelman College.

View PowerPoint View Recorded Lecture

Tuesday, July 28

10:30 a.m., Storytelling & Representation: Reflections on the Film “Harriet”

Before “Harriet” made its debut there were calls to boycott production of the film. There was a flurry of chatter via social media about the movie, and even once it was released and people who saw the film attempted to bring an informed response to people’s reservations, some folks were still adamant about not watching it.

This lecture by Philathia Bolton, PhD, will contextualize this controversy and offer a thought as to why narratives by Black writers seem to persist in being “read” in ways that align with a protest past.

Bolton teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in African American literature and culture at the University of Akron. She serves on the Advisory Committee for the Pan-African Studies Program and is an affiliate faculty member of the Women Studies Program. Her research interests more broadly involve women writers, the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and critical race studies. Bolton is a co-editor of Teaching with Tension: Race, Resistance, and Reality in the Classroom and is the author of an essay in the same volume. Bolton received her PhD in American studies from Purdue University and is an alumna of Spelman College.

View Recorded Lecture View PowerPoint
Wednesday, July 29
10:30 a.m., Toni Morrison in Memoriam: Art for Art’s Sake or Something Akin

Although omitted from the printed version of her Nobel Lecture, Toni Morrison began her Nobel speech with a reflection on the significance of storytelling.

Morrison believed narrative allows people to acquire and digest information. She also believed that literature resists the demand to be like a political tract or finite answer to life’s questions. Yet, according to Morrison, because the U.S. has done such a terrible job teaching about Black life, we have often turned to stories by Black writers to do this social work.

This last lecture by Philathia Bolton, PhD, seeks to remember Morrison through reflecting on what she leaves for consideration as we think about a continued engagement with Black American literature.

Bolton teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in African American literature and culture at the University of Akron. She serves on the Advisory Committee for the Pan-African Studies Program and is an affiliate faculty member of the Women Studies Program. Her research interests more broadly involve women writers, the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and critical race studies.

Bolton is a co-editor of Teaching with Tension: Race, Resistance, and Reality in the Classroom and is the author of an essay in the same volume. Bolton received her PhD in American studies from Purdue University and is an alumna of Spelman College.

View Recorded Lecture Toni Morrison in Memoriam Brief History of Word & Story
August 2020
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