Presenting at African Literature Assoc – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Presenting at African Literature Assoc

George Joseph, professor in the French and Francophone Department, and Assistant Professor James McCorkle and Scholar in Residence Thelma Pinto, both of the Africana Studies Program, recently participated in the 36th Annual African Literature Association conference, held in Tucson, Arizona. The theme of the conference was “Eco-Imagination: African and Diasporan Literatures and Sustainability.”

“It is quite rare to have such a strong representation of HWS at a major academic association’s annual conference, which draws participants from across the country as well as from across the globe,” says McCorkle.

Joseph, director of the African Literature Association Headquarters which is housed at HWS, presented “From Inculturation to Inter-Culturality: Wolof Bible Translation in the Perspective of Cultural Exchange,” in which he demonstrates that a complex intercultural dialogue must take place in any translation of the Bible into Wolof.


It must negotiate a complex path through meanings that words have taken on because of a longstanding multicultural relationship among local Wolof religions, Islam, Roman Catholicism, and French Protestantism. This presentation was part of a panel that Joseph chaired titled “Indigenous Literatures and Translations,” which dealt with translations of Shakespeare into Swahili and colonial origins of Hausa prose writing as well as translation of the Bible into Wolof.

McCorkle’s paper, “Re-Visioning a Poetics of Landscape: Resistance and Continuum in the Poetry of Kamau Bathwaite and Derek Walcott,” addressed the eco-poetics of these two Caribbean poets’ epics “Ancestors” and “Omeros.” The paper, presented as part of a panel on the poetry of Walcott and Brathwaite, focused on the intersection of the critique of tourist/consumer culture; the embedded slave-scapes both historical and contemporary; and the eco-cide of species and humans as themes shared by two poets often described as representative of opposing aesthetics.

PintoPinto, former president of the African Literature Association, chaired two panels, “Roundtable: New Trends in Post Liberation South African Literature Dedicated to Dennis Brutus” and “Land Race Identity and Reconciliation in Post-Apartheid Literature.” The first panel was dedicated to the South African poet and activist and first African Literature Association president Brutus who passed away in December 2009. In it, Pinto introduced recently published work of J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Sindiwe Magona, Kopano Matlwa, Zakes Mda, and Zoe Wicomb, and discussed recent trends in South African fiction published since 2007.

Joseph, McCorkle and Pinto often co-teach a First Year Seminar, “Face to Face: Interrogating Race in South Africa and the United States,” created several years ago on the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education by Pinto and McCorkle.

In early October, 2010, the Colleges will host the executive board of the African Literature Association.