March 25-29, 2009
Session sponsored by the Outreach Committee of the American Philological Association, in memory of John Quinn
Theme: Studies in Black Classicism
People of African descent have shaped the reception of the classical world for centuries. In Europe and Africa the pattern of evidence in classical antiquity moves from Homer and Herodotus to Africa's own Terence, Fronto and Augustine. In later eras it embraces Juan Latino and Anthony William Amo as well as more recent figures such as C.L.R. James and Kwame Nkrumah. Across the Atlantic, Francis Williams, Phillis Wheatley, John Chavis and Alexander Crummell gained fame during the 18th and 19th centuries for learning Greek and Latin, and using it in their work. In the Americas, however, these were exceptional cases. It was not until the end of the Civil War that the study of Greek and Latin became a mainstay of African-American education in general.
With the end of slavery, and the widespread legal interdictions prohibiting the education of slaves, universities and colleges old and new--from Oberlin, Brown and Amherst to Lincoln, Fisk, Atlanta, Clark, Wilberforce and Howard--incorporated the classically-based liberal arts curriculum into their programs, as part of their larger goal of bringing the highest level of culture and learning to their students. As a result, classical training influenced and in some instances permeated the professional and creative lives of college-educated black people for generations: classicists such as William Sanders Scarborough, William Henry Crogman, Helen Maria Chesnutt; literary artist such as Rita Dove, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Wole Soyinka and Femi Osofian.
Until recent times this rich tradition has been overlooked by scholars and lay people alike. While valuable work has been done about the Black Atlantic and African Diaspora in postcolonial studies, myriad aspects of this dynamic topic remain to be explored. With the support of the American Philological Association's Committee on Outreach, we hope to stimulate research in this area more broadly by presenting a panel on black classicism to our fellow philologists in the College Language Association. Papers on any aspect of this topic, drawing from art, literature, law and pedagogy will be welcomes. Our session honors the memory of John Quinn, a classicist at Hope College who passed away in June 2008, and his pioneering scholarship and teaching on this topic.
The deadline for the receipt of an abstract (300 words) is August 31, 2008. Submissions should be sent to both Michele Ronnick (aa3276 AT wayne.edu) and Judith P. Hallett (jeph AT umd.edu)
For further information about the College Language Association, see http://www/clascholars.org/