KU News Release

Oct. 27, 2011
Contact: Kristine Latta, Hall Center for the Humanities, 785-864-7823

Symposium to explore ties between African literature, Nobel Prize

LAWRENCE — Multiple generations of African writers, theater practitioners and critics will explore the state, focus and direction of African literatures within a global context and from new critical perspectives during the symposium “African Literatures in Global Perspective.”

Organized by Omofolabo Ajayi-Soyinka, professor in the departments of Theatre and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, the symposium will take place Oct. 27-29 in the Hall Center Conference Hall and the Commons in Spooner Hall and is open to the public.

It is sponsored by the Hall Center for the Humanities; the Office of the Chancellor; the Office of the Provost; the Department of African and African-American Studies; the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; the Department of English; the Office of Research and Graduate Studies; Alex Ogunmuyiwa; the School of the Arts; the Department of Theatre; Humanities and Western Civilization; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and Africa World Press.

The awarding of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature to the Nigerian dramatist and social activist Wole Soyinka marked the first time the award had gone to an African writer. Since then, three other African writers have been the recipients of the award. This symposium will explore the roles of African writers and their works in light of this paradigmatic award.

Biodun Jeyifo, renowned literary critic and theorist and professor of African and African American studies and comparative literature at Harvard University, will present the keynote address, "Inside and Outside the Whale: Take Two" at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28 in the Hall Center Conference Hall. Other speakers include Ghirmai Negash, Rotimi Martins, Catherine McKinley, Nozipo Maraire, Niyi Coker, Anthonia Kalu, Juliana Nfah-Abbenyi and Femi Euba.

A literary mixer medley will kick off the proceedings at 6:45 p.m. Oct. 27 in the Commons. The evening will feature readings in African languages and translations, as well as a dance performance by the KU African Students Association.

The symposium's second day, to take place in the Hall Center Conference Hall, will feature sessions on "Writing Traumas: Imagining Peace, Imagining Justice" and "Globalization: Transnational Writing & Translations.” A discussion focusing on the documentary “Tribute to a Writer: Wole Soyinka” will follow, and Jeyifo’s keynote address will conclude the day's activities.

The final day's events, to take place in the Commons, include a panel on "Globalization: Migration, Nationalism, and the Diaspora" and a roundtable discussion of "Theory and Its Boundaries." The symposium will conclude with a performance of “Camwood on the Leaves,” a play written by Wole Soyinka.

For more information, please visit the Hall Center’s calendar or contact Omofolabo Ajayi-Soyinka.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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