sealPurdue News

March 8, 2002

African cultures explored in presentation at Black Cultural Center

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Scholarly research on African-American and African-Caribbean cultures will be discussed during "Conversations Across the Diaspora" at noon Tuesday, March 19, at Purdue University's Black Cultural Center.

The research, which focuses on sociological and artistic themes, will be presented by Purdue graduate students Stephany Spaulding and Natalio Wheatley. Spaulding, who teaches English composition, will lead a discussion on the Jean Rhys novel "Wide Sargasso Sea." The novel, whose central character is biracial, explores intraracial prejudices. Spaulding says she will use the novel to launch a dialogue on contemporary racial issues.

"Because the main character, Antoinette, is a mulatto, she is often isolated by the black community and not fully accepted by her husband," Spaulding says. "In my research, I have utilized this text to explicate more global realities of internal segregation that occurs in black communities throughout the diaspora."

Wheatley's discussion will examine the characters in three novels by Earl Lovelace and how their rebellion against an oppressive society makes them heroic. The novels include "The Schoolmaster," "The Wine of Astonishment" and "Salt." Wheatley says the characters are inspirational in that their actions "set them apart from complacency."

"These characters demonstrate acute awareness of their countries' situations and their insight is their greatest asset," Wheatley says. "In most cases, these characters give a sense of hope at the conclusion of the novel, through they may not meet their immediate goals."

Wheatley, who grew up in the British Virgin Islands, is studying for a master's degree in English literature.

To continue the dialogue, the African American Studies and Research Center also will present a symposium entitled "The Black Atlantic" March 21-23 in Stewart Center, Room 214. The symposium will explore the history, culture, social and political experiences of people in the Atlantic world whose lives have been shaped by the African diaspora. Topics include culture and identity, activism and imagined geographies, ancestral memory and spaces of resistance, revising historical and social configurations, and racial consciousness and subjectivities.

CONTACT: Renee Thomas, Black Cultural Center director, (765) 494-3091,; Carolyn Johnson, African American Studies senior research associate, (765) 494-5680.

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page