Press Release for African Writers Symposium


On Saturday, November 1st, Tulane University’s Department of English hosts its first African Writers’ Symposium, featuring poet and dramatist Niyi Osundare, short story writer Mohammed Naseehu Ali, fiction writer Sefi Atta, and novelist Dinaw Mengestu, who is the current writer-in-residence at Tulane. The Symposium, which takes place at the Freeman Auditorium from 10 AM until 4 PM, is free and open to the public.

“What is particularly exciting about the symposium is that it will cater to the interests of a number of constituencies at Tulane and the city at large,” says Professor Gaurav Desai, chair of the Department of English. “We built it around Dinaw Mengestu’s residency. I am teaching Dinaw’s novel as well as the works of the other featured writers in my African literature class this semester, so my students will benefit as well as creative writing students. We have had other Africanist colleagues across campus and from the city at large call in about the event. We are expecting a large turnout!”

Supported by the Department of English Creative Writing Fund, the Symposium is the first of several major literary events this year on the Tulane campus. On March 16, poet Billy Collins, the second visitor in our Poet Laureate series, will give a reading at McAlister Auditorium. On April 6, the acclaimed journalist, essayist, memoirist and novelist Joan Didion will speak at McAlister. Didion is the third author to take part in our Great Writers Series, following standing-room-only visits by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison and Sir Salman Rushdie.

In addition, in early March, novelist Claire Messud will spend a week at Tulane as the Zale writer-in-residence, a program sponsored by the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women.

Tulane faculty taking part in the Symposium include Professors Peter Cooley, Paula Morris and Tom Beller, creative writing faculty in the Department of English, and Elisabeth McMahon from the Department of History. The final session of the day will be moderated by Gaurav Desai and Professor Eileen Julien, Professor of Comparative Literature at Indiana University.


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