March 16, 2011 — "Writing Lives: Biography, Auto/biography, Memoir" is the theme of the spring 2011 Peters Rushton Seminars at the University of Virginia, with African-American studies scholar Robert B. Stepto speaking on March 18 at 3 p.m. in the English department's Bryan Hall faculty lounge.
Stepto, professor of African-American studies, American studies and English at Yale University, will talk about his research, "My Life with Frederick Douglass." Stepto has been the editor of the Harper American Literature series since 1993, including the new edition of Douglass' 1845 "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself."
Most recently, Stepto is the author of "A Home Elsewhere: Reading African-American Classics in the Age of Obama." His other books include the memoir, "Blue as the Lake: A Personal Geography," and "From Behind the Veil: A Study of Afro-American Narrative."
The latter book discusses African-American stories that show the motif of a quest for freedom and literacy. "Reading and writing are empowering activities for African-Americans (among others)," Stepto wrote in his preface to "From Behind the Veil."
Stepto's lecture, co-sponsored by the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.
The Peters Rushton Seminar Series continues in the faculty lounge on March 25 with Patricia Meyer Spacks, Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English Emerita, discussing her work on "The Prose of Experience," from 10 to 11:30 a.m.
The same day, from 3 to 6 p.m., two other visiting speakers will lead another seminar on the biography-autobiography theme: Rosemarie Bodenheimer, English professor at Boston College will explore "The Temporalities of Biography," and Nancy K. Miller, Distinguished Professor of English in the City University of New York's Graduate Center, will talk about "A Feminist Friendship Archive."