Vanderbilt Lures Black Literary Scholars

Article excerpt

NASHVILLE, TENN.

Vanderbilt University, on a mission to transform the English department's literary studies program, has hired five leading Black scholars, including Drs. Houston A. Baker and Hortense Spillers, to make that happen.

"This has been a really extraordinary opportunity for us. We have had the unexpected chance to add five people to our already strong group of African-Americanists. We now have senior leadership for this group," says Dr. Jay Clayton, chair of the department. The Tennessee university, which currently offers graduate degrees in English with a concentration in African-American literature, hopes to eventually produce Ph.D.s in the discipline.

Baker, author of Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance and Black Studies, Rap and the Academy, is leaving an endowed chair at Duke University. Spillers, author of Black, White, and in Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture, is also leaving an endowed professorship at Cornell University.

Joining Baker and Spillers will be Dr. Ifeoma Nwankwo, an expert in African-American and Caribbean literature, and Alice Randall, who is best known for The Wind Done Gone, a satire of Gone With the Wind. Randall will be teaching creative writing and an innovative course on race and country music. …

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