CONWAY, Ark. (October 9,
2017) – Dr. GerShun Avilez ’02, Hendrix College’s inaugural Mellon Scholar,
will present the lecture “Vanishing Acts: Black Labor, Social Absence, &
Civil Rights Reform” on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, in the Bertie Wilson
Murphy House. The lecture begins at 4:15 p.m. and a reception will follow.
In this talk, Avilez will
explore how literary culture takes up the question of civil rights reform in
the 1960s, which sought to integrate Black citizens more fully into the social
and working world. Avilez argues that literature can help us to recognize the
gap between advancements in civil rights policy and the actual lived
experiences of target populations. Specifically, he demonstrates how limited
employment opportunities reflect impediments to Black civic equality even in
the context of legislative reform. He shows how representations of Black labor
reveal the unsteady state of Black citizenship.
After graduating from
Hendrix, Avilez earned his M.A. in English from Temple University, followed by
a Ph.D. in English and a Graduate Certificate in Africana Studies from the University
of Pennsylvania. Now serving on the faculty at the University of North
Carolina, Chapel Hill, Avilez is Associate Professor in the Department of
English and Comparative Literature; Director of Graduate Studies, English and
Comparative Literature; Director of the UNC Program in Sexuality Studies; and Affiliate
Faculty, Institute of African American Research and Department of Women’s &
Gender Studies. He has taught at Yale University and held the Frederick
Douglass Post-doctoral Fellowship at the University of Rochester. A cultural
studies scholar, he specializes in contemporary African American literature and
visual culture, and 20th century American literature in general.
Avilez’s visit to campus is made possible through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives at Hendrix.
A private liberal arts
college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as
one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That
Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and
rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous
college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been
affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit www.hendrix.edu.