Trudier Harris to Speak Friday on 'The Scary Mason-Dixon Line'

November 02, 2009

November 2, 2009 — "A black man can look at a map of the United States, contemplate the area south of the Mason-Dixon Line, and thus scare himself to death," said the late author and poet James Baldwin, a New Yorker.

In "The Scary Mason-Dixon Line," literary scholar Trudier Harris explores why black writers – whether born in Mississippi, New York or elsewhere – have consistently both loved and hated the South. Harris will talk about her new book Friday at 1 p.m. at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Free and open to the public, the lecture will be preceded by a reception at 12:30 p.m.

Harris, the J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of English Emerita at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, is the author of several books on African-American literature and folklore.

Harris is the author or editor of more than 20 volumes of criticism on African-American literature and folklore. Her publications include "Exorcising Blackness: Historical and Literary Lynching and Burning Rituals" (1984), "Fiction and Folklore: The Novels of Toni Morrison" (1991), "Saints, Sinners, Saviors: Strong Black Women in African American Literature" (2001), "The Oxford Companion to African American Literature" (1997), and "Reading Contemporary African American Drama: Fragments of History, Fragments of Self " (2007).

Her memoir, "Summer Snow: Reflections from a Black Daughter of the South," appeared in 2003.

Her several teaching awards include the 2005 UNC System Board of Governors' Award for Excellence in Teaching. A founding member of the Wintergreen Women Writers Collective, she lives in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities is located at 145 Ednam Drive.

For information about the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, visit or call 434-924-3296. For information about Harris' lecture, contact Hilary Holladay at or 434-243-5176.