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LUCIS Masterclass | MENA Cultures & Global Aesthetics

“I looked upon the Nile”: In the Archives with Langston Hughes

Wednesday 19 February 2020
Registration is required
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 4
2311 BZ Leiden
1936 photo by Carl Van Vechten

Langston Hughes, whose 1922 poem “Danse Africaine” is memorialized here in Leiden, invoked Africa, most famously a year earlier in “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” which is one of the most widely read and anthologized poems in U.S. literature. While Hughes’s poetry has often been read as a naive reflection of personal identity, such an approach effaces the profound political and cultural influence of the Middle East and North Africa on Hughes and his work.

In this masterclass, Ira Dworkin will discuss this poem using a range of archival sources from the Black press and the Arab American press, along with Hughes’s published autobiographies and unpublished diaries. Building on research that Dworkin conducted for Congo Love Song: African American Culture and the Crisis of the Colonial State, this master class will discuss research methods at the intersections of the MENA studies and African Diaspora studies.



credit: John Burrows

Ira Dworkin

Ira Dworkin is Associate Professor of English at Texas A&M University. He previously worked as a faculty member at the American University in Cairo, and as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Kinshasa. He is the author of Congo Love Song: African American Culture and the Crisis of the Colonial State (University of North Carolina Press), which was a finalist for the Pauli Murray Book Prize of the African American Intellectual History Society. He is the editor of Daughter of the Revolution: The Major Nonfiction Works of Pauline E. Hopkins (Rutgers University Press); Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845) (Penguin Classic); with Ferial Ghazoul, The Other Americas, a special issue of Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics; and with Ebony Coletu, On Demand and Relevance: Transnational American Studies in the Middle East and North Africa, a special issue of Comparative American Studies. His book chapter “Nicholas Said’s America: Islam, the Civil War, and the Emergence of African American Narrative” is forthcoming in American and Muslim Worlds, 1500-1900, edited by John Ghazvinian and Mitch Fraas, Bloomsbury (Islam of the Global West series).

All students and staff are welcome but registration is required. Bachelor students should write a short motivation letter and send it to lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl by February 18 the latest.

Register here
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