In the coming months, the African Literature Association (ALA), an international organization of hundreds of African writers, scholars and artists whose primary goal is disseminating African literature and art all over the world, will have its new director and headquarters at HWS.
ALA recently elected Professor of French and Francophone Studies George Joseph as its new director. During Joseph’s five-year term, ALA will have its headquarters right here on the Colleges’ campus, bringing to HWS the basic operation of the organization, its official archives, special lecture opportunities and an interaction with the HWS academic community.
“Having Professor Joseph as director and the headquarters on our campus will put Hobart and William Smith Colleges on the map of the world, letting influential scholars, writers and artists across the world – from Cape Town to Kyoto to the Netherlands – know that this Geneva campus is an academic center,” said Professor of Africana Studies Thelma Pinto, ALA 2008 past president, 2007 president and 2006 vice president.
The archive collection will provide a resource for students, not only those in the Africana Studies program, but also interested students from other departments, such as English and comparative literature and French and francophone studies. English, French and Portuguese, the latter of which are taught in the Self-Instructional Language Program, are very important languages for African literature, Joseph noted. The collaboration will also impact students who go abroad, particularly for the Senegal and South Africa programs. Additionally, the Colleges will host the yearly retreat for ALA’s executive board. This will include sessions and paper readings with various scholars that will be open to the entire campus.
“We plan to involve students in various capacities in the operation of the headquarters, which will provide a focal point for Africana studies majors and other students interested in Africa,” explained Joseph. “Students will have the opportunity to work as research assistants who will look for job announcements, bibliographical entries, and other materials we plan to publish in the newsletter.”
“For me personally, the most exciting things about the ALA are: its close contact between scholars and writers and its focus on activism – both are unique for a literary organization,” Joseph said. “As incoming director, I’m looking forward to the possibilities.”
Joseph, who joined the faculty in 1986, holds a bachelor’s from Oberlin College and his master’s and doctorate from the University of Indiana. He also holds a Certificat des literatures d’Afrique et de Madagascar from the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Sénégal.
The author of several works including “Centralité ex-centrique: la maison comme espace-interface dans Une Si Longue Lettre de Mariama Bâ,” “Bible Translation and African Audiences” and more. His other works include conference papers, book reviews, and contributions to specialized volumes as well as articles in periodicals such as French Review, Romanic Review, Oeuvres et critiques, Research in African Literatures, Papers on French Seventeenth-Century Literature, The Journal of American Semiotics, and Diagonales: La revue de la francophonie linguistique, culturelle, éducative.