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Featured Speakers: Dana Williams and Joanne Gabbin

Thursday, 3:15–4:30 p.m.
JW Marriott, Grand Ballroom V, Third Floor

Speaking to Mari Evan's Work and Legacy

Chair: Maryemma Graham, Kansas University, Lawrence 

Dana A. WilliamsDana A. Williams is Professor of African American Literature and Chair of the Department of English at Howard University. She earned her B.A. in English from Grambling State University in Grambling, LA in 1993, her M.A. in 1995 from Howard University, and her Ph.D. in African American Literature from Howard University in 1998. Before returning to Howard University as a faculty member in 2003, Williams completed a Ford Foundation postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) in the departments of English and Afro-American Studies and taught at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA) in the Department of English for four years. During the 2008-09 academic year, she was a visiting faculty fellow at Duke University at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute. She assumed the chairmanship of the Department of English in 2009.

She is the author of Contemporary African American Female Playwrights: An Annotated Bibliography (Greenwood 1999), co-edited of August Wilson and Black Aesthetics (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2004) with Sandra G. Shannon; editor African American Humor, Irony, and Satire: Ishmael Reed, Satirically Speaking (Cambridge Scholars, 2007); Conversations with Leon Forrest (UP of Mississippi, 2007); and Contemporary African American Fiction: New Critical Essays (Ohio State UP, 2009) and author of In the Light of Likeness—Transformed: The Literary Art of Leon Forrest (Ohio State UP, 2005).

She has published articles in CLA Journal, African American Review, Bulletin of Bibliography, Langston Hughes Review, Zora Neale Hurston Forum, Studies in American Fiction, International Journal of the Humanities, Profession, ADE Bulletin, and PMLA.

Williams is president of the executive committee of the Associated Departments of English, the largest national organization of English departments in American colleges and universities; program chair and president-elect of the College Language Association, the oldest and largest professional organization for African American and African Diaspora faculty of English and World Languages; and president-elect of the executive committee for the Modern Language Association’s Black American Literature and Culture Division.

Joanne V. GabbinJoanne V. Gabbin is the Executive Director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center and Professor of English at James Madison University. She is author of Sterling A. Brown: Building the Black Aesthetic Tradition, which was published in a new edition by the University Press of Virginia in 1994, and a children's book, I Bet She Called Me Sugar Plum (2004). She is also the editor of The Furious Flowering of African American Poetry (1999), Furious Flower: African American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present (2004), Mourning Katrina: A Poetic Response to Tragedy (2009) and Shaping Memories: Reflections of African American Women Writers (2009).

As director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center, Gabbin has organized two international conferences for the critical exploration of African American Poetry. The first, Furious Flower: A Revolution in African American Poetry held in 1994 with Gwendolyn Brooks, gathered 35 acclaimed poets to James Madison University in the first conference of its kind. The second, Furious Flower: Regenerating the Black Poetic Tradition brought together more than 50 nationally and internationally renowned poets in 2004.

A dedicated teacher and scholar, she has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching, scholarship and leadership. Among them are the College Language Association Creative Scholarship Award for her book Sterling A. Brown (1986), the James Madison University Faculty Women's Caucus and Women's Resource Network Award for Scholarship (1988), the Outstanding Faculty Award, Virginia State Council of Higher Education (1993), the Provost Award for Excellence (2004), the JMU Distinguished Faculty Award (2005), induction in the Literary Hall of Fame at Chicago State University in 2005, and the 2007 Woman of Distinction Award.

Gabbin is also the founder and organizer of the Wintergreen Women Writers' Collective, which meets every year in Wintergreen, Virginia to promote scholarship in African American literature. She serves on the board of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and she is a member or former board member of twenty-five professional and service organizations. She received a B.A. in English from Morgan State College in 1967, a M.A. in English from the University of Chicago in 1970, and the Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago in 1980. 


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