Frederick Douglass Institute Events


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Issues of Diversity: “Literature as Social Activism”

Stabley Library, Rm. 210 (Stapleton Library)

Join IUP faculty and student presenters in a discussion of their research. Explore topics related to diversity, social equity, and inclusion from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Brown bag lunches are welcome.

Join the conversation!

Nedrick Patrick, Department of English, “White Racism and Black Rebellion in Matt Johnson’s Incognegro

Matt Johnson’s Incognegro is a graphic novel about racism, interracial love, and identity construction in the South. Using multifaceted characters, graphic imagery, and realistic events to limn the duality of being biracial after the collapse of chattel slavery, Johnson’s twist on the traditional American novel traces the complexity surrounding the horrors of Southern lynching and the use of “passing” as a mode of survival in racially hostile environments. Patrick will consider Johnson’s use of visual sequences in the novel to disclose the history and continuing realities of institutional racism in America and the horrors of heteronormative violence in the American South.

Lee Salem, Department of English, “Coexisting with Charlotte Delbo’s Auschwitz and After

Charlotte Delbo’s frightening witnessing of the arrival of victims to Auschwitz in her memoir, Auschwitz and After, establishes the tone of her accounts of her time during and after her imprisonment at Auschwitz. Accordingly, her reflective words also provide readers with an approach for encountering her testimony: to expect “the unthinkable.” Delbo encourages the reader to witness her memories through what she calls “seeing.” She pleads, “Try to look. Just try and see” into another world of experiences. Delbo’s discourse demonstrates her ability to coexist with her experiences through the act of “separation of self.” Holocaust Scholar Robert Langer has identified a division of memories of Holocaust survivors, but are readers, too, are encouraged to “see” and separate from the self? Salem will evaluate Delbo’s use of memory to permit readers to “see,” to identify, and to coexist with their testimonies.

Rod Taylor, Department of English, “Henry Bibb: The Professional Fugitive and Famed Colonizer”

Published in 1849, The Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb is not a well-known book in African American and American literature. Its author, Henry Bibb, is also little known, especially when compared to famous writers and orators who were formerly enslaved like William Wells Brown and Frederick Douglass. Yet Henry Bibb’s slave narrative is worthy of literary and historical attention as it presents a unique perspective and critique of the institution of slavery. Bibb subverts the slave as commodity through his astute awareness of the economics of free labor and the importance of labor/work for the emancipation of the enslaved and the reclamation of identity. Taylor will argue for Bibb’s importance as a “professional fugitive” by examining his autobiography and selections from his self-published newspaper, The Voice of the Fugitive, for the ways he re-created/reclaimed himself to begin settling land in Canada.