Albright College English Professor Receives Fulbright Scholar Grant

Research in Greece to Focus on Black Women Writers

Theresa GilliamsTeresa Gilliams, Ph.D., associate professor of English, was awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to lecture and do research at National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece during the 2011-2012 academic year, according to the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Gilliams will conduct research related to her scholarly project, “Retrievable Wrongs: Reading, Preserving and Globalizing African-American Women’s Writing.” Both an anthology and a critical sourcebook of black women writers, Gilliams said that she hopes her project will fill a gap in African-American literary scholarship and become a basic tool for researchers, students and teachers.

Gilliams is one of approximately 1,100 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program in 2011-2012.

Her interest in Greece began when she learned about several Greek scholars at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki who had an interest in black women’s writing.

“I began thinking strategically about ways in which I might help extend the global reach of black women’s literary texts and became very interested in the educational exchange that the Fulbright Fellowship affords,” Gilliams said.

While in Greece, she will continue her research and teach a course on black women writers, with the goal of drawing students’ attention to some of the major voices in African-American literature and the quality of the texts that centralize her study. “I have an interest in opening venues of exchange with both Aristotle University and National and Kapodistrian University of Athens as a means of contributing to the development of an international network in Greece and collaborating with faculty to reconfigure approaches to aspects of African-American literature that are frequently excluded or glossed over.”

Gilliams said she hopes to use her knowledge of African-American literature to develop future exchanges that might aid in emphasizing black women writers’ declaration that not only is it acceptable to be different from mainstream white America but that these important differences must be celebrated rather than repressed.

“Ultimately,” she said, “my work is influenced by Alain Locke’s challenge to African-American writers and scholars to ‘interpret the soul of [black] people in a way to win the attention and admiration of the world.’”

In addition, Gilliams is interested in exploring pedagogically in Greece what assumptions and philosophies students find in the spaces between African-American poetry, drama and prose. She hopes to examine what meaning can be derived from an international student body that reads the literature as being borne out of a specific, racialized American community and experience, and what role black women writers play in mediating that relationship.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in over 155 countries worldwide.

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