About the institute

“Don’t Deny My Voice: Reading and Teaching African American Poetry”

July 14 - August 3, 2013

University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

Don’t Deny My Voice: Reading and Teaching African American Poetry is a fifteen-month program funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities that responds to the resurgence of interest in contemporary poetry, its expanded production and wide circulation. We focus on the history, changes and modal transformations of African American poetry in our cultural and social landscape and consider three critical periods: 1900-1960, 1960-80 and 1980-present. The program includes a three-week summer institute and subsequent webinars using technology to foster collaboration among participants, known as NEH Summer Scholars.

The institute will offer twenty-five college and university teachers (including at least three advanced graduate students) a broad-based knowledge of the history of major developments in African American poetry in the 20th and 21st centuries. Guided by experts in the field and supported by the archival resources of the Project on the History of Black Writing and the Furious Flower Poetry Center, NEH Summer Scholars will examine the practice of poetry – its creation, production and performance – and consider a new poetics for reading, teaching and interpreting. NEH Summer Scholars will explore the range and diversity of African American poetries, develop a deeper understanding of the reasons for their global popularity, and engage in collaborative teaching and research projects.

The institute will be held at the University of Kansas from July 14th until August 3rd of 2013. NEH Summer Scholars will be required to attend all meetings and to engage fully in the work of the institute.  During the institute, NEH Summer Scholars are not allowed to undertake teaching assignments or any other professional activities that are not directly related to their institute participation. To defray the costs of attendance, all NEH Summer Scholars will receive a stipend of $2,700 to cover travel, housing and food.  Half of this amount will be distributed upon arrival at the Institute and the remainder will be distributed after successful completion of the Institute.  These stipends are taxable.  NEH Summer Scholars who, for any reason, do not complete the full tenure of the institute will be required to return a pro-rated portion of their stipend.

The webinars, to be held online in fall 2013, will be open to the public and invite students of all levels to join the 25 NEH Summer Scholars in live, online discussions with a prominent group of intergenerational award winning poets including Rita Dove, Nikki Giovanni, Terrance Hayes, Liegh McInnis, Ishmael Reed, and Natasha Trethewey.