Assistant Professor James McCorkle ’76 recently presented papers at the 38th annual meeting of the African Literature Association in Dallas, Texas. At a roundtable on human rights, he presented on the Kurukan Fuga, or Mande Charter, which provided a constitutional framework that incorporated social organization, as well as environmental, children’s and women’s rights.
“This charter is not usually included in the history of human rights, but it is far more expansive than its contemporary – the Magna Carta,” notes McCorkle. “It foreshadows groundbreaking human rights documents – such as the South African Freedom Charter of 1955.”
“The significance of these works,” explains McCorkle, “is to include Africa in the origins and articulation of human rights and ethics.”
On the panel “Constructing a (Post) Colonial Memory,” McCorkle also presented “The Politics of Place, Trauma and Memory: Sindiwe Magona’s Mother to Mother,” which examined the 1998 South African epistolary and testimonial novel “Mother to Mother.”
McCorkle, who teaches courses in the First Year Seminar and Africana Studies programs, holds an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He graduated from Hobart College in 1976 with a bachelor’s in English. Earlier this year, McCorkle presented work on contemporary narratives of slavery at the Modern Language Association and the Northeast Modern Language Association as part of a project on New World African poetics.
The African Literature Association is an international organization devoted to scholarship on the literature and culture of the African continent as well as the African Diaspora. Its archives are currently housed at the Colleges with Professor of the French and Francophone Studies George Joseph serving as executive director and Smith Hall Faculty Secretary Dorothy Vogt as administrator.