On January 19th, 2013 Archie Shepp, Professor Emeritus, will be returning to Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont to receive the "Goddard Award for Excellence". The award has been granted only three times in the history of the college. Professor Shepp received his undergraduate degree from Goddard in 1959. In conjunction with the award, Professor Shepp will be performing on the Goddard campus at 8:00pm at the Haybarn Theatre accompanied by musicians Tom McClung, Ronnie Burrage and Nicolas Letman Burtinovic. Archie Shepp was a member of the Du Bois Department for over thirty years. Well done Professor Shepp.
See full press release here.
See Professor John Bracey's poetry on a mural in Philadelphia. Click on the photo for a pdf version.
NYC in WWII (youtube video) Featuring Professor David Lucander (Ph.D., 2010)
Professor Amilcar Shabazz named Faculty Advisor to the Chancellor for Diversity and Excellence. See In the Loop for details.
Professor Manisha Sinha is the featured commentator on 'The Abolitionists' on PBS.
Begins on January 8, 2013. See In the Loop for the full article.
Professor A Yemisi Jimoh was elected as President of The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS). Her term will run from 2012 to 2015. Professor Jimoh also serves on the editorial board of the Society’s journal MELUS.
Flávia Santos de Araújo, Ph.D. candidate, has been awarded a UMass Graduate School Dissertation Research Grant. The grant will support archival research and the conducting of interviews in Brazil for her dissertation, “The Diasporic Black Female Body in Contemporary Afro-Brazilian and African American Literary Representations.”
Professor Manisha Sinha
See Professor Sinha's latest piece "Is the Modern GOP a 'Relic of Barbarism?'"
published by HNN (History News Network)
Funding Opportunity for all minority students:
The Gates Millennium Scholars Program
New England Regional Student Program (NERP)
Afro-American Studies Majors Qualify
from Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont
The NERP allows students from the six New England states, who are enrolled in certain programs not offered by their home-state public college or universities, to pay a reduced tuition rate. Not all programs are available in the NERP at UMass. See the Registrar's Officefor details!
Drs. Jonathan Fenderson and Kabria Baumgartner have been selected to receive the Esther M. Terry Award for their distinguished dissertations in Afro-American Studies, 2011.
"Intellect, Liberty, Life: Women's Activism and the Politics of Black Education in Antebellum America"
Dissertation Committee Chair, Manisha Sinha
"'Journey Toward a Black Aesthetic'": Hoyt Fuller, the Black Arts Movement & the Black Intellectual Community"
Dissertation Committee Chair, James Smethurst.
Dissertation Defenses of 2013
James Carroll successfully defended his dissertation,"Composing the African Atlantic: Sun Ra, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, and the Poetics of African Diasporic Composition" on January 25, 2013. Professor Steven Tracy chaired the committee.
Dissertation Defenses of 2012
Allia Matta successfully defended her dissertation, "Uncovering the Covered Word and Image:
Framing a Blackwoman's Diasporan Stage-Space" on September 17, 2012.
Professor James Smethurst chaired the committee.
Ernest Gibson, III successfully defended his dissertation, "In Search of the Fraternal: Salvific Manhood and Male Intimacy in the Novels of James Baldwin" on April 9, 2012.
Professor James Smethurst chaired the committee.
McKinley Melton successfully defended his dissertation, "Pen Stroking the Soul of a People: Spiritual Foundations of Black Diasporan Literature" on June 23, 2012.
Emeritus Professor, Michael Thelwell chaired the committee.
Jamal Watson successfully defended his dissertation, “Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press: Black Journalism and Its Advocacy Role from 1954-1991” on August 13, 2012.
Professor John Bracey chaired the committee.
Manisha Sinha, Professor of Afro-American Studies, gave the opening address at the Underground Railroad Public History Conference held April 13-15 at Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y.
Sinha’s presentation was titled “Fleeing for Freedom: Fugitive Slaves and the Making of American Abolition.” Check out the video here.
by Professor Bill Strickland
The W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies has significant representation in the world’s foremost authoritative volume dealing with poetry and poetics, the new 4th Edition of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. The major essays on the Poetry of the Harlem Renaissance and the Poetry of the Black Arts Movement in the volume were written by department professors Steve Tracy and Jim Smethurst, respectively, and their works are referenced in other essays in the volume as well. Professor Tracy has produced books dealing with African American music, Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, and Ralph Ellison, and Professor Smethurst on the African American roots of modernism, radicalism in the South, African Americans on the literary left, and the Black Arts Movement.
Through three editions over more than four decades, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics has built an unrivaled reputation as the most comprehensive and authoritative reference for students, scholars, and poets on all aspects of its subject: history, movements, genres, prosody, rhetorical devices, critical terms, and more. Now this landmark work has been thoroughly revised and updated for the twenty-first century. Compiled by an entirely new team of editors, the fourth edition--the first new edition in almost twenty years--reflects recent changes in literary and cultural studies, providing up-to-date coverage and giving greater attention to the international aspects of poetry, all while preserving the best of the previous volumes. At well over a million words and more than 1,000 entries, the Encyclopedia has unparalleled breadth and depth. Entries range in length from brief paragraphs to major essays of 15,000 words, offering a more thorough treatment--including expert synthesis and indispensable bibliographies--than conventional handbooks or dictionaries. Click on the book cover shown above for more...
The latest from Dr. Ernest Gibson:
Conference Presentation: http://youtu.be/11wKksClSAY
Prof. Steve Tracy performs in Germany during his Fulbright professorship
Check out the article in the July issue of Diverse Issues in Higher Education, "Black Studies Now Flourishing Despite Early Struggles." Our Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies is nicely represented in the article. See pdf or go to http://mydigimag.rrd.com/publication/?i=11739
Amilcar Shabazz has been elected Secretary of the National Council for Black Studies, the leading organization of Black Studies professionals in the world. A member of the Council's National Board since 2009, Shabazz will now join its Executive Committee for a two-year term. "The NCBS was established in 1975 by African American scholars who recognized the need to formalize the study of the African World experience, as well as expand and strengthen academic units and community programs devoted to this endeavor." Today it holds an annual conference in March, publishes a peer-reviewed journal and a newsletter, conducts program evaluations, organizes national workshops and institutes on topics of professional and programmatic development, among other activities.
Du Bois Department Senior in the Spotlight...
Justin McCarthy ’12, an Afro-American studies major tells us about how hip hop shaped his life and Afro-American studies changed the way he thinks about the world. See his HFA Student Profile by going to
Dr. Trimiko Melancon ('05), Assistant Professor of English and African & African American Studies at Loyola University, has been awarded a prestigious 2012 Woodrow Wilson National Foundation fellowship for next academic year. During this time, she will complete the final revisions of her first book "Unbought and Unbossed: Transgressive Black Women, Sexuality, and the Politics of Representation." Additionally, she will be working on her second book project, "You People: Race and the Global Politics of Exclusion from Katrina to Berlin," from which she presented at the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies "Fire Next Time" Colloquium Series in October 2011. An article based on her presentation has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Popular Culture entitled "Reading Race and the Difference It Makes: (Post) 9/11, Black Performance, and Cultural Production." See here for details.
New Book Publications
An Army of Lions: The Civil Rights Struggle Before the NAACP
by Shawn Leigh Alexander ('04)
Black Power at Work: Community Control, Affirmative Action, and the Construction Industry
by David Goldberg ('06) and Trevor Griffey, eds.
The Poetics of Paul Robeson's Othello
by Lindsey Swindall ('07)
Other recent titles by our graduates include Christopher Lehman’s The Colored Cartoon: Black Representation in American Animated Short Films, a Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2008, A Critical History of Soul Train on Television, and American Animated Cartoons of the Vietnam Era; Stephanie Y. Evans' Black Women in the Ivory Tower, 1850-1954: An Intellectual History, and African Americans and Community Engagement; Jennifer Jensen Wallach's Richard Wright: From Black Boy to World Citizen and Closer to the Truth than Any Fact: Memoir, Memory, and Jim Crow, also a Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2008; and Shawn Alexander's anthology T. Thomas Fortune, the Afro-American Agitator. Congratulations to all our former students adding to the body of published scholarship on the African American experience.
The Fall 2011 issue of The Black Scholar features four articles on print culture and local movements that were originally presented at the Du Bois Department's 2010 conference "Art & Power in Movement."
Afro-American Studies professor Steven C. Tracy has been awarded the Chu Tian Scholar Fellowship Award ("The Sky of Chu Kingdom Award") by the Hubei Provincial Department of Education in China and officially named Lecture Professor of the Chu Tian Program.
See full article at In the Loop.
On a recent trip to Beijing, Professor Tracy visited the Olympic Village and the swimming pool complex. He then went back to Wuhan for a poetry conference, where he performed on harmonica and vocals “Amazing Grace” and “Going Down to the Graveyard” at an international poetry reading and showcase for Central China Normal University’s music department, and offered a keynote address.
BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez
A new documentary—now in production by Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater, with Sabrina Schmidt Gordon
BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, a one-hour documentary, will examine her contribution to the world of poetry, her singular place in the Black Arts Movement and her leadership role in African American culture over the last half century. Despite her achievements, there is—as yet—no major film documenting her life and the impact of her work. Supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Leeway Foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation and the Lomax Family Foundation, this Attie & Goldwater Production will give Sister Sonia her due with our own John Bracey serving as both a talking head in the film and a member of the film's advisory board. Click tease to see the movie's advanced trailer.
Also, on December 29th, 2011 Professor John Bracey was in Philadelphia to attend the naming of Sonia Sanchez as that city's first Poet Laureate. Mayor Michael Nutter presided over the ceremony held at City Hall. As part of her acceptance speech Sanchez read a poem she had written in 1994 upon the occasion of the visit to Philadelphia of Vaclav Havel, recently deceased first President of the Czech Republic and a playwright. Sanchez' term as Poet Laureate runs for two years ,and plans are underway for a number of initiatives promoting poetry and the arts throughout the city. Sonia Sanchez's appointment was met with universal acclaim, confirming the widely held view that Sanchez had been the de facto poet laureate of Philadelphia for some time ,and that the Mayor Nutter just made it official. See articles in the Philadelphia Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Phildelphia Inquirer Editorial and other photos (pdf).
MR issue features plenary session papers from 2010 Art & Power in Movement Conference
The new issue of the Massachusetts Review is out and it features presentations from a plenary session on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) held during last November's 40th Anniversary of the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies. Professor Emeritus Ekwueme Michael Thelwell introduces us to fellow SNCC activists Charles E. Cobb, Jr. and Judy Richardson, and to a period that "not only fundamentally challenged the culture and architecture of injustice in the south, but laid the groundwork for a new pedagogy of social justice on campuses like our own."
Congratulations to Professors Steve Tracy and James Smethurst on the publication of their newest books:
|Professor Steven Tracy's newest book has now been published. Writers of the Black Chicago Renaissance comprehensively explores the contours and content of the Black Chicago Renaissance, a creative movement that emerged from the crucible of rigid segregation in Chicago's "Black Belt" from the 1930s through the 1960s.||
Roark Bradford's 1931 novel and 1939 play dealing with the legendary folk-hero John Henry (both titled John Henry) were extremely influential in their own time, but have since then been nearly forgotten. Steven C. Tracy has united these hard-to-find works in a single critical edition that helps contextualize-and revive-both texts. Click cover for more information...
|The African American Roots of Modernism explores how the Jim Crow system triggered significant artistic and intellectual responses from African American writers, deeply marking the beginnings of literary modernism and, ultimately, notions of American modernity. Click cover for more information..|
We're in the news all over the place: See the UMass Amherst magazine for John Sippel's feature story on the department. See also "UMass Doctoral Programs on the Rise, Earn Distinction as Among the Nation's Best in NRC Rankings" as well as the Daily Collegian article "UMass doctoral program ranked among top-performing schools by National Research Council."
Here's the news on our PhD program:
The first detailed survey since 1995 of doctoral programs at the nation's research universities shows that the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is among the most highly ranked graduate programs in the country. The National Research Council (NRC) survey, released Sept. 28, 2010, emerged from data collected in 2005-06 on more than 5,000 doctoral programs in 62 fields at 212 colleges and universities, covering such characteristics as faculty publications, grants, and awards; student financial support, and employment outcomes; and program size, time to degree, and faculty composition. Measures of faculty and student diversity were also included. Their analysis assigned each doctoral program a range within which the program likely ranks, such as between first and third for Department in the Diversity ranking which "reflects gender balance, ethnic diversity, and the proportion of international students." The Department ranked in the top 10 nationwide. Du Bois Department chair Amilcar Shabazz noted,"We are very proud of our standing among our peers, and welcome NRC and other findings which lend additional validity to our own sense that we provide our students with teaching and research excellence, together with engaged social responsibility in developing human knowledge and social life in general." The NRC assessed 42 graduate programs in American Studies. In overall scholarly performance the Du Bois Department ranked in the top ten of doctoral programs in the field, at the top in terms of gender balance as well ethnic & international student diversity, and #6 in terms of student performance and experience. See for yourself through the independent guide PhDs.org and the Chronicle of Higher Education synopsis at http://chronicle.com/article/NRC-Rankings-Overview-/124700/.
Professors Kabria Baumgartner and Jonathan Fenderson completed an edited volume of the Journal of African American Studies, with James Stewart. It is focused on the Black Studies Movement. Also, see Emeritus Professor Ekwueme Michael Thelwell's commentary "History and Memory: The Tyranny and Prejudice of Experience".
Click on the following link to the table of contents: http://www.springerlink.com/content/1559-1646/16/1/
Professor Jonathan Fenderson won the Black Metropolis Research Consortium Short-term Fellowship for the summer. It was granted by the Black Metropolis Research Consortium and sponsored by the Mellon Foundation. See http://www.blackmetropolisresearch.org/shortTerm.html for details.
Dissertation Defenses in 2012
Ernest Gibson's “In Search of the Fraternal:
Monday, April 9th 2:30 p.m.
Room 2601, W.E.B. Du Bois Library
Our doctoral student, Ernest Gibson, III, made it onto the 2011 Boston Lizard Lounge National Poetry Slam Team. The team will be competing at the National Poetry Slam, an annual poetry slam championship tournament against teams from all over North America and Europe that will take place August 8-13th in Boston, Massachusetts.
Markeysha Davis of the Afro-American Studies Department and Rickey Fayne of Northwestern University have been named winners of Du Bois fellowships to assist younger scholars in conducting research in Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) in the Du Bois Library. Go to In the Loop for more...
Ernest Gibson, III, made it onto the 2011 Boston Lizard Lounge National Poetry Slam Team. Nationals is in August and will feature teams from all across the world congregating to compete for the National Slam title. The Lizard Lounge's website: http://poetryjam.org/slam/. And the official website for the national comp: http://nps2011.com/. Check back here for upcoming competitions. Good luck Ernest!
Jonathan Fenderson, after two years as a Fellow at the The Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies [http://news.clas.virginia.edu/woodson/x16454.xml], University of Virginia, has successfully defended his dissertation "Journey Toward a Black Aesthetic," about Hoyt Fuller, the 1960s Black Arts Movement, and the Black intellectual community that formed in the movement’s wake. He has accepted an appointment in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburg that will begin after a postdoctoral fellowship year in the Program in African and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.
Kabria Baumgartner, after a productive a Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship [http://www.spencer.org/content.cfm/dissertation-fellows-2010-2011], has now accepted a position as an assistant professor at the College of Wooster. The Du Bois Department takes great pride in Kabria and all our graduates.
H. Zahra Caldwell is a 2010-2011 Dissertation Fellow in the departments of Africana and Latino Studies and History at SUNY Oneonta. http://www.oneonta.edu/academics/africlat/facultyassociatedandadjunct.html
Allia Matta has received a 2010-2011 Diversity Assistantship from the Graduate School at UMass.
Jason Hendrickson, McKinley Melton, and Vanessa Fabien won coveted teaching appointments in the UMss Amherst Undergraduate Advising & Learning Communities' Multicultural America RAP or Residential Academic Program which involves teaching our AfroAm 151Literature & Culture course to small classes taught in the first-year student's residential area. http://ualc.umass.edu/rap/multiculturalamerica/
Lilly Teaching Fellow from Afro-Am selected
The Center for Teaching and Faculty Development (CTFD), which supports the professional development and achievement of faculty, has announced the 2012-13 Lilly Teaching Fellows. Among the eight fellows from departments across campus is our own Britt Rusert, selected in her first year at UMass. The Lilly Fellowship is a competitive award program, established in 1986, that enables promising junior faculty to cultivate teaching excellence in a special yearlong collaboration. The fellows assess their teaching and their students' learning through classroom visits; review of course materials; and student feedback. Lilly Teaching Fellows attend an intensive retreat and bi-weekly seminar sessions on college teaching, design and implement a course design project, and work with mentors to anticipate many of the challenges and rewards of faculty life at UMass Amherst. Click here for the full article in the Loop.
On February 25, 2011, the Black Student Union of UMass Amherst as part of its 3rd annual Black History Showcase, honored Amilcar Shabazz, Du Bois Department Chair. The BSU recognized Professor Shabazz for his devotion to teaching and his professional dedication to African American Studies. Wilmore Webley in the natural sciences, Enobong Branch in the social sciences, and Carlos Mendez in Management were other faculty that received awards. Also, the BSU gave Afro-American Studies major Justin McCarthy a distinguished peer award.
<<The group picture here of BSU officers and the various honorees was taken by Doris Clemmons, Associate Director of Institutional Diversity at UMass Amherst.
Afro-American Studies Professor Manisha Sinha was selected for the 2010-2011 Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series. Her lecture "Did the Abolitionists Cause the Civil War?" was presented April 27, 2011. You can see it at http://www.livestream.com/umamherst_events/video?clipId=pla_4f9ab883-37e4-4ed8-a0c2-ba3006a65058
Also, see Professor Manisha Sinha's recent article "The Strange Victory of the Palmetto State" in The New York Times.
Spotlight Scholar: Steven C. Tracy, challenging boundaries and bending notes
Afro-American Studies professor Steven Tracy is a man who blurs boundaries. A writer and editor of works about African-American literature and culture and an accomplished blues musician, Tracy's made a career of mixing music and literature and of "being in places he shouldn't be." While in high school, Tracy won a national harmonica competition that landed him on the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. With just a year of playing experience, Tracy was given an opportunity more seasoned musicians only dream of - the chance to launch his musical career on one of the most popular television shows of the time. "I really had no business being there," laughs Tracy.
Click here to see a full version of the article at In the Loop.
Tricia Loveland Distinguished Staff Service Award winner
From our February 12, 2010, nomination letter: Bill Strickland notes “Tricia Loveland is not our ‘employee’ in the traditional sense but someone who is very much a part of the Department’s family. Her dedication to our work is above and beyond the call of duty and she furthers our interests as though they were her own.” Manisha Sinha adds: “Ms. Tricia Loveland has been invaluable to the smooth functioning of the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies for more than a decade. She has single handedly managed the department and performed functions that in other departments are done by at least three or four staff persons, department secretary, graduate and undergraduate secretary, and a personal assistant to the Chair and Graduate Director. And she has borne these tasks in a competent and cheerful manner. In short, recognition of her service to our department and the university in general is long overdue and we recommend her highly for this distinction.” Amilcar Shabazz...observes: “In a large institution like UMass it is easy for students as well as new faculty members to feel lost and alone. Tricia gives her personal attention to people in knowing and effective ways that gets you where you need to be and feeling that you have someone in your corner who knows this campus and who cares about your success. I have seen alumni return to the department after many years and the first person they want to see is Tricia. The Spirit of ’76, of solidarity and sacrifice, is in this Minutewoman!
Thank you to all who participated in our Art & Power in Movement Conference!
The Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies thanks all the scholars and activists, writers and artists, youth and elders, who came together November 18-20, 2010, to mark our 40th year on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, as well as to support the exchange of knowledge about the dynamic period in which academic Black Studies units like ours were established. The Art & Power in Movement conference drew over 400 participants. Please click the poster to go to the conference website. We will be posting photos, as well as links to video and audio files of many conference presentations, especially by our keynoters Sister Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, and others.
Continue to check the blog of our Working Group on Black Arts & Black Power Movement Research for additional post-conference developments.