Friday, April 21, 2017

NGUGI wa THIONG'O at Penn State

Just back after dropping Ngugi wa Thiong'o at the airport for his trip back to Irvine.

His visit started off with a lunch time discussion centered in his book Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing, which brought together his Wellek lectures.

PSU has a history with Ngugi.  Back in '94, my poet/friend Charles Cantalupo organized a conference on Ngugi's work at our Berks campus. And you can find video of Charles's conversation with Ngugi in 2015 here: Cantalupo and Ngugi in conversation

This year's visit was under the auspices of the Migration Studies Project.  The central event was a public lecture, "Language, Literature and the Globalectic Imagination." Ngugi had worked last minute citations to Penn State people into his lecture, giving a sense of how much his thought is still in progress and evolving daily.

Things wound up today with a great lunch conversation with Professor Ngugi, grad students Derek Gideon and Brandon Erby, and recent PhDs Susan Weeber and Laura Vrana.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

CLA 2017 - Columbia, MO

This blog is truly a CLA baby, first going live back in 2006 in Birmingham, Alabama.  This photo of Naomi Long Madgett comes from that year's gathering.

This year's conference was at the much harder to get to Columbia, Missourah, Missouree, Mizou, where the hotel had no restaurant, but had plenty of bears and moose to keep us company.

 I had two official functions. First was the annual breakfast meeting of the editorial board for CLA Journal. The journal has been making great strides under the leadership of Howard's Sandra Shannon and we're looking forward to great things with the publication.

My second function was presenting another segment of my continuing work on Amiri Baraka's recording history, as part pf a panel on Music, film and literature. My fellow panelists were Robin Williams, Jurgen Grandt and Derek Smith, and we were chaired by UNC Greensboro's Tara Green.

 The storms that swept the eastern half of the country mid-week kept several of our colleagues from getting to the conference; nearly stranded me in Chicago.  There were enough of us at O'Hare Wednesday night that if our flight had been cancelled instead of just delayed we could have held an impromptu conference right there in the terminal.

This year's keynoter was Jamaica Kincaid, who read from her frighteningly hilarious tales of freak family and freakier time, See Now Then. Kincaid was  pleased that this audience of professors got the Shirley Jackson house joke. (It's quite a house; I can't imagine living in it, let alone writing in it.)