Lima and Goldberg, faculty member and alum, in journal special issue

Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters will be publishing a special issue titled Unchaining Selves: The Power of the Neo-Slave Narrative Genre, co-edited by Professor Joan Anim-Addo (Goldsmiths University of London) and Geneseo Professor of English Maria Lima.

Lima has taught a course on the genre of neo-slave narratives at Geneseo for a number of years, and has been working on this special issue with Anim-Addo since 2015, when she chaired a panel at the Northeast Modern Language Association Annual Meeting on the topic.

Generally, the term neo-slave narrative refers to a genre of literature in which twentieth and twenty-first century writers take Atlantic slavery as the occasion for their literary texts. Neo-slave narratives often both draw on and depart from the earlier genre of slave narratives — autobiographical writing by enslaved and emancipated peoples of African descent addressing the experiences of living through slavery. Some examples of neo-slave narratives include Ishmael Reed’s Flight to Canada (1976), Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987), M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong! (2011), and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (2016).

In their original call for papers, Anim-Addo and Lima write, “The main reasons for this seemingly widespread desire to rewrite a genre that officially lost its usefulness with the abolition of slavery are to re-affirm the historical value of the original slave narrative and/or to reclaim the humanity of the enslaved by (re)imagining their subjectivity. No other genre has undergone such widespread creolization—both a process and a concept used to describe many forms of contact across a wide range of cultural and ideological formations—having become a mode shared by many cultures in an uneven yet interdependent world.”

Lima and Anim-Addo’s special issue brings fresh scholarship to this established literary genre, interrogating some of the ways recent currents in black and Africana studies theory and criticism open up new conversations about slavery’s afterlife through this literary genre.

The issue includes essays by two Geneseo English alumni from the class of 2012 – Jesse Goldberg and Stephanie Iasiello – and an essay by SUNY Geneseo Distinguished Teaching Professor of English Beth McCoy.

Since graduating from Geneseo, Goldberg earned a PhD in African American literature at Cornell University and is now Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Longwood University in Virginia, where, like Lima, he is teaching a course on neo-slave narratives. Goldberg’s essay is titled “The Restored Literary Behaviors of Neo-Slave Narratives: Troubling the Ethics of Witnessing in the Excessive Present.”

Iasiello earned a PhD in African Diaspora Literature at Emory University and is now Board President at Reforming Arts, a non-profit organization providing liberal arts higher education to people incarcerated in women’s prisons in Georgia. Iasiello’s essay is titled “Photographing A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby: Kara Walker’s Take on the Neo-Slave Narrative.”

McCoy’s essay, “Flights of Principled Fancy Dress: Steve Prince’s Katrina Suite and the Neo-Slave Narratives” extends the rich and ongoing collaborative work she has been engaging in with New Orleans artist Steve Prince.

The issue is in its final printing stages and is scheduled to be published by the end of 2018.

This post has been updated to reflect Iasiello’s and McCoy’s contributions to the forthcoming special issue.

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McCoy publishes essay on Everett and Jefferson

Distinguished Teaching Professor Beth McCoy’s essay “The Great [White] Wail: Percival Everett’s The Water Cure and Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia” appears in American Revenge Narratives, a 2018 Palgrave Macmillan collection of critical essays edited by Kyle Wiggins.

Lytton Smith to direct new Center for Integrative Learning at SUNY Geneseo

The Office of the Provost at SUNY Geneseo has named Dr. Lytton Smith director of the college’s new Center for Integrative Learning, effective August 2. The center represents a strategic re-imagining of the current Center for Inquiry, Discovery and Development, which supports SUNY Geneseo’s mission to promote transformational learning experiences and to inspire students to be socially responsible and globally aware citizens.

In an email to campus faculty and staff, Provost Stacey Robertson writes that the new center will “play an expanded role in developing and promoting academic experiences that are interdisciplinary, connect learning opportunities to real world problems and issues, and encourage students to explore and articulate connections across their different experiences.”

Robertson points out that since coming to SUNY Geneseo in fall 2014, Smith, who was recently awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of associate professor, “has helped create or sustain a number of collaborative high impact educational opportunities for Geneseo students, including interdisciplinary and team-taught experiences that cross disciplines and divisions, study abroad, and community-based learning, often working with collaborators across science and humanities fields.” Smith’s work, she continues, “including his literary translations of Icelandic literature, in many ways models the principles of integrative learning. Under his leadership the CIL is poised to make considerable progress in advancing our goals as a public liberal arts institution that empowers students to make meaningful connections across their academic experiences.”

McCoy co-authors book chapter on community art

Distinguished Teaching Professor of English Beth McCoy and artist Steve Prince have co-authored “From Grief, Find Your Peace: Steve Prince and The Big Zipper Community,” an essay that explores how community art can help to heal community trauma. The piece appears in Routledge’s The Role of the Arts in Learning: Cultivating Landscapes of Democracy, edited by Jay Michael Hanes and Eleanor Weisman. McCoy will be teaching an integrative learning course on Prince’s art in Spring 2019.

More recognition for fiction writer Rachel Hall

SUNY Geneseo Professor of English (Creative Writing) Rachel Hall continues to receive recognition for her linked story collection Heirlooms.

The Arkansas Writer’s MFA Workshop recently recognized Hall’s book by naming it the winner of the third annual Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award.

The award was founded in 2016 to honor central Arkansas author and literary champion Phillip H. Math, who is also the final judge.

Of the collection, final judge Phillip McMath notes: “With just a hint of Irene Nemirovsky, Camus and a dash of Guy De Maupassant, Rachel Hall is uniquely and brilliantly herself, and the appearance of her marvelous collection of short stories, Heirlooms, heralds the appearance of a first-rate talent.”

Earlier this semester, the University of Hartford’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies named Hall as runner-up for the Edward Lewis Wallant Award. The winner was Margot Singer, for her novel Underground Fugue. Both authors will be honored at an awards ceremony Wednesday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m. at the Mandell Jewish Community Center, West Hartford, as part of the 2017-18 Mandell JCC Book Festival series.

Established by Dr. and Mrs. Irving Waltman of West Hartford in 1963, the award honors the memory of the late Edward Lewis Wallant, author of The Pawnbroker and other works of fiction. The Wallant Award is one of the oldest and most prestigious Jewish literary awards in the United States. It is presented to a Jewish writer, preferably unrecognized, whose published work of fiction is deemed to have significance for the American Jew.

Lytton Smith’s chapbook wins contest

My Radar Data Knows Its Thing, a poetry chapbook authored by Assistant Professor of English Lytton Smith, has been selected as the winner of the inaugural Foundlings Chapbook Contest and Artist Residency. The chapbook will be designed by guest book artist Steve Fitzmaurice, and Foundlings Press will publish Dr. Smith’s collection in mid-January 2018. Dr. Smith will complete a weekend residency at Hotel Henry in Buffalo this November. The four runners-up were Terez Peipins, Tige DeCoster, Benjamin Brindise, and George Guida. Dr. Smith’s chapbook includes poems about radio, radar and wireless, devised based on research visits supported by funds from the Office of the Provost. All the poems in the collection begin with or rewrite Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s famous novel opening, “It was a dark and stormy night…”