Local professor to take part in national seminar


For Greene County News

YELLOW SPRINGS — A local professor has been selected to participate in a national seminar. Antioch College history professor Kevin McGruder is one of a select group of faculty members nationwide chosen by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to participate in a special American history seminar on “Slave Narratives.”

The multidisciplinary seminar for faculty members in history, English, and related fields will use the slave narratives—as well as some other assigned secondary reading—to comprehend the lived experience of slaves themselves in the transition from bondage to freedom. 27 faculty members were selected from a pool of 83 competitive nominations to participate in the seminar, which will be held at Yale University June 21–25.

In announcing the selection of participants, CIC President Richard Ekman said, “This seminar will provide a great opportunity for participating faculty members to gain a better understanding of the experience of emancipation and the 19th century events that were so important in shaping our world today. We believe that Kevin McGruder will play a strong role in the seminar.”

“When I saw the CIC notice of this seminar I thought immediately of Kevin and the vast array of historical elements of the African-American experience, including slave narratives, that he incorporates in his classes, research and community work,” said Lori Collins-Hall, Vice President of Academic Affairs.

David W. Blight, an author and professor of American History at Yale University, will lead the seminar.

Seminar participants will examine pre- and post-Civil War narratives. The pre-emancipation narratives were often serious works of literature as well as works that fit into certain conventions and formulas, and they tended to focus on the oppression of slavery and on a former slave’s indictment of the institution of bondage as a means of advancing the antislavery argument. The post-emancipation narratives tended to be success stories—triumphs over the past and visions of a more prosperous future.

The most famous pre-war narrative is that of Frederick Douglass, and the most famous post-war narrative is that of Booker T. Washington. Seminar participants will read both of these and several other books, including Blight’s “A Slave No More,” which reveals two unique postbellum narratives as a means of understanding the experience of emancipation itself.

The seminar is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and will feature professors from states all across the nation, including Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, among others.

For more information, visit the CIC website at www.cic.edu/AmericanHistory.

Story courtesy of Antioch College.