Professor of English & comparative literature Maria Lima presented her James and Julia Lockhart Supported Professorship lecture entitled “Reclaiming the Human: From the Bildungsroman to Neo-Slave Narratives” on Monday Sept. 25 in the Doty Tower Room. Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs and professor of history Stacey Robertson; students and a handful of Geneseo English professors attended the lecture, listening intently to Lima’s words and thoughts.
The James and Julia Lockhart Supported Professorship is one of many supported professorships offered to distinguished Geneseo faculty. The faculty members who are selected for these professorships “have demonstrated superior teaching and involvement of students in the learning process, superior advisement, both formal and informal, a visible and meaningful involvement in campus life, and an active scholarly life,” according to the Geneseo website.
Lima’s lecture was part of her three-year professorship program in which she receives an annual grant. In addition to the lecture, another responsibility of Lima’s professorship includes the ability to design and teach one course of her choosing during a year of her professorship . After being introduced by English department chair Robert Doggett, Lima thanked James and Julia Lockhart for the opportunity of the professorship and began her lecture on the development of neo-slave narratives.
“My lecture today registers the official end of a love affair with one particular genre: the bildungsroman,” she began. The bildungsroman literary genre is the German name for the “coming of age” novel.
She made sure to emphasize during the lecture that “[she is] not arguing for us to look at slavery narratives as a [representation] for all black transatlantic text.” She also explained that most of the theorizing on the neo-slave narratives has been done in the United States until recently, so she focused her presentation more on British neo-slave narratives.
“Neo-slave narratives have been published not only to highlight the whole slavery plague and the creation of wealth in the British Empire, but also to make their history relevant,” she said. “But even more crucial, to present ethnic and cultural struggles for inclusion.”
Her lecture ended with a quotation from Lars Eckstein: “While most colonial testimonies of slavery have long disappeared from the working memory of today’s black Atlantic societies into the realm of storage memory, the prejudices and stereotypes they conveyed [unfortunately] have in fact not.”
This ended the already intriguing lecture on a very thought-provoking note, leaving the attendees with something to think about when turning to future neo-slave narratives.u