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Prominent Line-Up Examines Race in 2002 Ropes Series

Date: Dec. 19, 2001
By: Marianne Kunnen-Jones
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photo by: Dottie Stover
Archive: Campus News

The issue of race will receive one of the most intensive examinations undertaken in Cincinnati since the April riots when the University of Cincinnati Department of English launches its Ropes series in January and February 2002.

Stanley Corkin

Five nationally and internationally prominent writers will be featured during the UC series, which opens Jan. 29. In all, five lectures and three dialogues will focus on the theme, Race and Culture: Lines of Color, Lines of Demarcation. Guest speakers range from well-known novelists and essayists Caryl Phillips and Bharati Mukherjee to literary voices Noel Ignatiev, Gerald Vizenor and Suvir Kaul. UC English professor Amy Elder and local activist Reggie Boyd will also be featured.

In the days after the April riots, Stanley Corkin, (above left), organizer of the Ropes series and UC professor of English in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, knew he didn't need to look far for a topic. Then, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, his theme took on an added dimension.

"I have tried to gather important writers, essayists and scholars who would address race from different angles. Race is not simply a category defined by black and white. The series will look at the term in all its varieties," Corkin says.

"Phillips is a Caribbean-born novelist who has written about the African slave trade. Ignatiev is someone who discusses the social consequences of the category of whiteness. Two of the writers, Mukherjee and Kaul, have South Asian backgrounds, and Vizenor is a professor of Native American literature," Corkin says.

The lectures and discussions are free and open to the public. They also are the core components of a course Corkin is teaching for 25 graduate students. "This is an important part of our master's and doctoral programs. It's an opportunity for these students to engage some of the top people in the humanities. They won't be just sitting in a lecture hall studying them in textbooks. They will have the chance to develop relationships with these speakers, ask questions and have discussions with them," Corkin says.

There are also five other courses taught by English department faculty in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences that will focus on Ropes speakers. Those courses include: "

  • Contemporary American Fiction," taught by Tom LeClair (graduate students)
  • "Literary Research/Bibliography," taught by Corkin (graduate students)
  • "Problems in American Romanticism," taught by Lee Person (graduate students)
  • "Approaches to Victorian Literature," taught by Tamar Heller (graduate students)
  • "Ethnic Women Writers," taught by Amy Elder (undergraduates).

For information, the public may call (513) 556-3906.

Speakers Bios.

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