English Department lecture: Amy Levin
Speaking Freedom’s Language: US Multicultural Literature and Human Rights Talk in an Emerging Democracy
In 2013 Amy Levin was the first US Fulbright scholar in a Myanmar public university for almost thirty years. Her talk reflects on her experience of teaching US multicultural literature and human rights.
On Thursday September 28th, Emeritus Professor Amy Levin (Northern Illinois University) will open the 2017/18 English Department lecture series with a talk entitled ‘Speaking Freedom’s Language: US Multicultural Literature and Human Rights Talk in an Emerging Democracy’.
In February 2013, Amy Levin served as the first US Fulbright scholar in a Myanmar public university in almost thirty years. Literature was chosen for this venture because, according to the project overview, “American literature is not a sensitive subject with the Ministry of Education and thus a good idea.” Knowing it to be risky, Levin introduced Masters students and their faculty to recent US literature, focusing primarily on works by women and minorities, beginning with the Civil Rights movement.
Not surprisingly, the experience yielded multiple opportunities to reflect and theorize about the nature of literature, global rights, and reciprocity. Yet the most intriguing parts of the experience were the silences, evasions, and hesitations which constantly interrupted conversations about the opportunities for improving civil rights in the shift toward democracy. Slowly, she was able to use literature to draw implicit parallels and open conversations about “sensitive topics.”
Prof. Levin’s presentation will analyze how US multicultural women’s literature provided scaffolding for more extensive conversations about freedom and human rights, drawing on literary theory and student narratives as appropriate.
About the speaker
Professor Levin is Professor Emeritus in the Department of English at Northern Illinois University. Her areas of interest include women’s studies and women’s literature, museum studies, Victorian literature, African-American literature, and literature and medicine. Among her publications are the edited volumes Global Mobilities: Refugees, Exiles, and Immigrants in Museums and Archives (Routledge, 2016), Gender, Sexuality and Museums (Routledge, 2011) and Defining Memory: Local Museums and the Construction of History in America's Changing Communities (Alta Mira, 2007). She is also the author of Africanism and Authenticity in African- American Women’s Novels (UP of Florida, 2003). An article on her experience in Myanmar was published in PMLA in October 2016.
Venue: PCH, room 5.59
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