1-17 of 17 results  for:

  • Humanities and Social Sciences x
Clear all

Article

Charles L. James

Born in Alexandria, Louisiana, the first child of a Roman Catholic bricklayer and a Methodist schoolteacher, Arna Wendell Bontemps grew up in California and graduated from Pacific Union College. After college he accepted a teaching position in Harlem at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, and in 1926 and 1927 won first prizes on three separate occasions in contests with other “New Negro” poets. The same years marked his marriage to Alberta Johnson and the start of a family of six children.

Bontemps's first effort at a novel (Chariot in the Cloud, 1929), a bildungsroman set in southern California, never found a publisher, but by mid-1931, as his teaching position in New York City ended, Harcourt accepted God Sends Sunday (1931 his novel about the rise and notoriety of Little Augie This tiny black jockey of the 1890s whose period of great luck ...

Article

Arna Bontemps was born in Alexandria, Louisiana, to parents of Creole descent who eventually converted to the Seventh-Day Adventist faith. While Arna was young, the Bontemps family moved to Los Angeles, California. The childhood loss of his mother and the stern upbringing by his pragmatic father affected him deeply. His father hoped, mistakenly, that his son would make the family trade of masonry his life's work. Educated at Seventh-Day Adventist institutions, Bontemps graduated from Pacific Union College in 1923. In 1924 he took a teaching job at the Harlem Academy in New York City.

Literary notice and success came early to Bontemps. His creativity and social conscience were excited by the cultural vitality he found in New York in the 1920s. By 1926 his poetry had appeared in two of the most important journals of the period, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ...

Article

Evan Mwangi

Caribbean poet, historian, dramatist, and cultural theorist, was born Lawson Edward Brathwaite to Hilton Brathwaite, a warehouse clerk, and Beryl Gill on 11 May 1930 in Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. He was later given the name “Kamau,” a common name in central Kenya, by the writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s mother, when Brathwaite visited Kenya as a guest of the University of Nairobi in the 1970s. For his early education, Braithwaite attended the Harrison College, an elite school in Barbados, beginning in 1945. He started writing poetry at an early age, publishing some of it in the school magazine, The Harrisonian, which he cofounded, and later in the audacious magazine Bim, edited by Frank Collymore, an eminent man of letters in the British Caribbean. Some of this early poetry was later collected in Brathwaite’s Other Exiles (1975).

In 1949 Brathwaite won the Barbados Scholarship to attend ...

Article

Paul Breslin

Martinican poet, playwright, essayist, and political leader, was born on 26 June 1913, in Basse Pointe, Martinique. His parents, Fernand and Eléonore Césaire, were of modest means but devoted to their six children’s education. In 1924, Césaire entered the Lycée Schoelcher in Martinique’s capital, Fort-de-France. In 1931 he went to France to study at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, then, in 1935, at l’École Normale Supérieure. In Paris, Césaire developed friendships with other young black intellectuals and writers, most notably the Senegalese Léopold Sédar Senghor and Léon Damas (1912–1978), a French Guianese who had been his schoolmate at the Lycée Schoelcher. In 1937, he met and married a fellow Martinican student and poet, Suzanne Roussi (1915–1966). The marriage produced six children, one of whom, Ina Césaire (1942– ), became a prominent writer as well.

Césaire and his circle sought a definition of black identity They were influenced by the ...

Article

Richard Watts

Born in Basse-Pointe, Martinique, the second of six children in a family of relatively modest means, Aimé Césaire grew up with a strong appreciation for French culture. While most young Martinicans heard their bedtime stories in Creole, Césaire’s father would read his son French poems by Victor Hugo, which may explain in part Césaire’s bias against the Creole language. The family moved to Fort-de-France when Césaire was twelve years old. There Aimé enrolled at the Lycée Schoelcher and met Léon-Gontran Damas, a student from French Guiana. Césaire’s exceptional work there led to a scholarship to finish his secondary studies in Paris, France, at the prestigious Lycée Louis-le-Grand. In Paris he met the Senegalese Léopold Sédar Senghor, a man whose literary and political itinerary would mirror Césaire’s.

Césaire enrolled at the école Normale Supérieure in 1931 and began participating in the vibrant black student life of 1930s Paris Through ...

Article

Felicia A. Chenier

black theater organizer, writer, director, folklorist, chorographer, and educator, was born in Houston, Texas, the only daughter of Gerthyl Rae and Harvey G. Dickerson, an army officer. As a military child Dickerson traveled extensively with her parents and brother, Harvey. After graduating high school in Syracuse, New York, Dickerson studied at Howard University in Washington, D.C. While there she studied theater and was mentored by noted educator and writer Owen Dodson, who was then the Drama Department chair. Noteworthy of her experiences at Howard is her discovery of writings by Zora Neale Hurston. After receiving a bachelor of fine arts (BFA) from Howard in 1966, Dickerson received a master of fine arts (MFA) from Adelphi University in Long Island, New York, in 1968 During the same year she returned to Howard as an assistant professor of drama and staged her directorial ...

Article

Sheila Gregory Thomas

educator, dramatist, social philosopher, and activist, was born in Washington, D.C., the youngest of the four children of James Monroe Gregory and Fannie Emma Whiting Hagan. His father, a professor of classics at Howard University, had been a member of the university's first college graduating class in 1872. The family lived on the university campus until Gregory was eight years old, at which time his father resigned from the faculty to head the Bordentown Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth in New Jersey.

The family's 1897 move to Bordentown gave Gregory the run of a beautiful 225 acre campus on the Delaware River A favorite time for him was Saturday mornings when he and his father traveled to Philadelphia by boat to make purchases for the school for these shopping trips inevitably included dinner at Wanamaker s or Snellenburg s and ...

Article

Debbie Clare Olson

filmmaker, producer, director, playwright, writer, and cultural critic, was born in Newark, New Jersey, but spent most of his childhood in North Carolina. Little is known about his family. After high school, Moss moved to Baltimore and attended Morgan State College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1929. He also attended Columbia University in New York City, where he formed a troupe of black actors called “Toward a Black Theater.” The troupe toured around New York City and performed at various black colleges.

Moss was active in the theater and radio and acted in his first film, The Phantom of Kenwood, in 1933. The film was directed by Oscar Micheaux, one of the more prolific early black filmmakers. Between 1932 and 1933 Moss wrote three dramas—“Careless Love,” “Folks from Dixie,” and “Noah”—for a radio series called The Negro Hour ...

Article

Grant Lilford

Zimbabwean writer, translator, and editor, was born on 2 December 1947 at Manyene, near Chivhu in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). His father had worked in South Africa and was able to purchase land in an area then identified as a Native Purchase Area. The eldest of eight, Mungoshi herded cattle, read avidly, and listened to his mother and grandmother telling stories. He identifies his grandmother as the inspiration for “Mandisa” in his novel Waiting for the Rain (1975 Mungoshi attended All Saints School Daramombe School and St Augustine s Secondary School He published three short stories while he was still attending St Augustine s with the encouragement of his English teacher Father Daniel Pierce Pierce sent some of the stories to the South African writer and editor Richard Rive who commented favorably on them At St Augustine s Mungoshi focused his attention on English particularly creative writing and drama ...

Article

Kahiudi C. Mabana

Congolese poet, novelist, dramatist, bibliographer, census-taker, storyteller, essayist, and literary critic, was born on 4 September 1946 in Mbujimayi in eastern Kasai (Democratic Republic of the Congo [DCR]). He undertook Greco-Latin studies at the Collège Don Bosco of Saint François de Sales des Salésiens in Elisabethville (now Lubumbashi). After graduating from Université Lovanium in Kinshasa in 1970 he was retained as an assistant before pursuing his doctorate at the Université de Strasbourg On his return Ngandu Nkashama taught linguistics and literature at the Université Nationale de Zaïre at the Lubumbashi campus on the same faculty as other professors such as Georges Ngal Valentin Mudimbe Paulin Houtondji Elungu Pene Elungu Kinyongo and Gambembo During this time he was also a visitor at other institutes of higher education in the country ISP Kananga Kikwit and the Grand Séminaire in Kabwe Because of his actions and stands in favor of his students ...

Article

Zodwa Motsa

Nigerian playwright, novelist, short story writer, dramatist, critic, and political analyst, was born on 21 April 1943 in Akure, western Nigeria. He was raised in the Yoruba tradition but has been a resident of South Africa since 1991. Known also as Bankole Ajibabi, his life is a rich academic tapestry woven across Africa and Western Europe.

Omotoso received his secondary education in Lagos, Nigeria (1962–63), and the University of Ibadan (1968). In 1972 he received his doctoral degree in Arabic and French from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Omotoso started as a lecturer in the department of Arabic and Islamic studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1972–1976), becoming a senior lecturer and head of the department of drama and director of the Life University Theatre (now Obafemi Awolowo University, 1976–1988). Between 1989 and 1991 he was a visiting professor in English at the University ...

Article

Jennifer Burton

and important figure in the 1960s black arts movement. Eugene Redmond was born 1 December 1937 in St. Louis, Missouri. Orphaned at age nine, he was raised by his grandmother and “neighborhood fathers,” made up of members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and friends of his older brother. During high school he worked on the newspaper and yearbook, performed in school and church plays, and composed for neighborhood singing groups.

From 1958 to 1961Redmond served as a U.S. Marine in the Far East, acquiring a speaking knowledge of Japanese. He was an associate editor of the East St. Louis Beacon from 1961 to 1962. In 1963 Redmond co-founded a weekly paper in East St. Louis, the Monitor, working at different times as a contributing editor, executive editor, and editorial page editor.

At Southern Illinois University he was the first African American student editor of the university ...

Article

David F. Smydra

writer, was born Ishmael Scott Reed in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Thelma Coleman, a saleswoman. Coleman never married Reed's natural father, Henry Lenoir, a fund-raiser for the YMCA, but before 1943 she married an-autoworker, Bennie Reed, whose surname Ishmael-received. (Ishmael has seven half siblings.) Coleman moved with her son Ishmael to Buffalo, New York, in 1942, where Reed attended two different high schools before graduating in 1956. His mother's memoir Black Girl From Tannery Flats detailed her life growing up in segregated Chattanooga Tennessee during the 1930s, and being part of the 1940s migration to the north.

Reed made his initial forays into journalism by writing a jazz column in a local black newspaper, the Empire Star while still a teenager He began his college studies in night school at the University of Buffalo called Millard Fillmore College but ascended to the more rigorous ...

Article

Ada Uzoamaka Azodo

Senegalese novelist, dramatist, and literary and cultural activist, was born on 27 April 1941, on the island of Saint-Louis, the first capital of Senegal before Dakar, to Abdoulaye Fall and Adja Khoudia Diaw. In Paris, on 30 May 1963, she married fellow Senegalese Samba Sow, a recent university graduate in economics at the time and a popular basketball player, adopting his last name as her middle name. Today, Aminata Sow Fall is so well known worldwide that she can be listed in bibliographical entries without the need to place her last name first.

In her conservative and hospitable family her father who had attended L École des Fils de Chefs later worked outside the home as treasurer while her mother stayed at home as housewife and mother to provide nurturing to all with the help of live in servants Many young people and villagers frequented their home bringing ...

Article

Gerry Cambridge

In Crocodile Dandy, an essay about the Australian poet Les Murray, which amusingly begins with “the barbarians” approaching “the capital” with their rambunctious and superbly learned bards in tow, Derek Walcott provides a witty shorthand for the surprise of Empire at finding its former colonies' poets more au fait with its civilization's great art than it is itself. Walcott, as a son of the former colony of the British Empire, St. Lucia, is a perfect example—a poet from the margins, greatly learned in English literature, who has been widely feted both in Britain and America.

Article

David Barry Gaspar

poet, playwright, and literary and cultural critic, was born Derek Alton Walcott in the town of Castries on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, then a British colony. It had experienced very slow Anglicization since its acquisition from the French after the Napoleonic wars. His parents, Warwick Walcott and Alix (maiden name unknown), were Methodists in a mostly Roman Catholic society. His mother was a schoolteacher and seamstress and, for many years, headmistress of the Methodist Infant School. She enjoyed acting and reciting. Walcott's father, an avid watercolorist and civil servant, died in 1931, leaving his wife to raise young Derek, his twin brother (Roderick Alton), and his sister (Pamela), who was two years older.Derek Walcott grew up in a house filled with books and other indications of the intellectual and artistic interests of his parents After completing elementary school under the ...

Article

Peter Hudson

Derek Alton Walcott, winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize for literature, is widely regarded as one of the most important writers to emerge from the English-speaking Caribbean. While other Caribbean writers have responded to what Patricia Ismond has called the West Indian “crisis of historylessness,” brought about by the devastating effects of slavery and colonialism, by searching for roots, Walcott celebrates the possibilities of the “newness” of the region. The figure of Robinson Crusoe recurs in his poetry and plays, exemplifying both the predicament of Caribbean isolation and the potential that isolation offers to West Indians for creating a vocabulary uniquely suited to the complexity and richness of their world.

For Walcott, the artistic legacy of classical Western civilization is integral to this creative process. At an early age, he “fell madly in love with English.” Born in Castries, Saint Lucia he became familiar with the Western canon through ...