"Introducing African Athena and Parsing the Classical Toni Morrison"
By Tessa Roynon, Oxford University
Location: East Pyne, 127
Date/Time: 03/07/12 at 4:30 pm - 03/07/12 at 6:00 pm
Free and open to the public.
Cosponsored by Princeton’s Department of Comparative Literature, Center for African American Studies, and the Department of Classics
Beginning with an overview of the recent publication African Athena: New Agendas (ed. Orrells, Bhambra, Roynon; OUP 2011), an interdisciplinary collection of 22 essays that reframe and move forward the debates provoked by Martin Bernal’s controversial tripartite work Black Athena, Professor Roynon will address what analysis of the extensive interactions between Greece, Rome, the Middle East and Africa over many centuries can contribute to our understanding of the relationship between modernity and antiquity, as well as of the processes of historiography and of the disciplining of the academy. Her primary focus will be on the interactions between the modern African diaspora and the culture of the ancient world, for instance, the role of classical culture in the American abolition movement and the theorizing of a transnational black classicism. She will then center on Toni Morrison’s strategic engagement with the African presences within the classical tradition, arguing that this engagement forms a central part of her radical critique of Euro-American culture and of dominant narratives about the past.
Tessa Roynon is a Research Fellow in English at St Peter’s College and the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford. She has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Cambridge, an M.A. in English and American Literature from Georgetown University, where she was a Fulbright scholar, and a PhD in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Warwick. Her research centers on the reception of the classical tradition in modern American fiction and in transatlantic writing of all genres. She is currently completing her first monograph, Toni Morrison and the Classical Tradition: Transforming American Culture, which is forthcoming in the Classical Presences series at Oxford University Press (2013). She is co-editor of the interdisciplinary essay collection African Athena: New Agendas (OUP 2011), which is the subject of today’s talk, and to which she has also contributed a chapter on ‘the Africanness of classicism’ in Toni Morrison. She has recently completed The Cambridge Introduction to Toni Morrison (CUP 2012).
Department: Center for African American Studies