Asanbe Diversity Symposium
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Asanbe Diversity Symposium

The Annual Joseph Asanbe Diversity Symposium

Department of Languages and Literature

 These symposia are held annually to honor Joseph Asanbe, Professor of African and African-American Literature, who died in 1996.  Dr. Asanbe was longtime chair of the department’s Diversity Committee, which organizes the events to honor his legacy and encourage continued understanding and appreciation of diversity. Co-sponsored by the APSU Department of Languages and Literature and the Center of Excellence for Creative Arts, the Asanbe Diversity Symposium was created to nurture diversity and to support and enhance the teaching of world literature.


Featured Speakers

2018 Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Celebrated Poet

Keynote: "Undocumented and Unafraid"

Panel Discussion: "Memory and Immigration in the Politial Moment"


2017 CORE Ensemble

Chamber Music Theater Performance Group

Performance: "Ain't I A Woman"

Panel Discussion: "Race, Gender, and the Women's Movement Today"

2016 Marnie Mueller

Noted Author

Keynote lecture: "The Color of Citizenship: The Impact of the Japanese-American Internment During WWII"

Panel Discussion: "Immigrant Experience, Immigrant Voices: Locating Culture in the Twenty-First Century"


2015    Dr. Joy Ladin

Transgender scholar and poet

Keynote lecture: "Second Genesis: The Transformation of Gender"    

Panel Discussion: "Trans Identities in Social and Institutional Spaces”


2014    Dr. Jacqueline Woodfork

Historian and author

Keynote Lecture: “How Senegalese Soldiers Became French: 20 th Century  Identity Politics”

Panel Discussion: “Africa in the 21 st Century”

2013    Dr. Todd Moye

Historian and author

Keynote address: “Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II” Panel Discussion:

“Diversity Meets the Culture of Allegiance”

2012    George Estreich

Keynote lecture:  “The Shape of the Eye: Down Syndrome, Family, and the Stories We Inherit”

Panel Discussion

2011   Dr. Patty Loew

Native American educator, writer, filmmaker and producer

Keynote lecture:  “Creation to Contemporary Conflict: Native American Origin Stories as Predictors of Modern Environmental Struggles”

Film:  “Way of the Warrior,” a documentary produced by Patty Loew for PBS on Native American soldiers in WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam

2010    Coleman Barks

Poet and translator of the poetry of Rumi

Keynote reading and lecture: "The Mystery of Friendship: Rumi and Shams" Panel Discussion: "Why Read Rumi?"  

2009    Dr. Abiola Irele

Visiting Professor of African and African-American studies and of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University, Harvard University

Orality and Literature--The African Example

Keynote Lecture: “Form and Function in African Oral Literature”

Panel Discussion: “Oral Tradition in Literature across Cultures”

2008   Dr. Olga Connor

Journalist and educator

Keynote Lecture:  “Parables of Women”

Panel Discussion: “Gender and Politics/Politica y Sexo”

2007    Chris Lowney

International businessman, writer and humanitarian

 Keynote Lecture:  “A Vanished World: What 21 st Century Christian, Jews and Muslims Can Learn from Medieval Spain”

Panel Discussion: “Lessons for Modern Men and Women from Medieval Spain”


2006   A. Van Jordan


Keynote Lecture:  “Space, Time and Race: From Macnolia Cox to the Present”

Panel Discussion: “Overcoming the Legacy of Jim Crow”


2005    Rabbi Steven Greenberg        

Author and Senior Teaching Fellow

National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, New York

Keynote Lecture: “Wrestling with God and Men: A Gay Orthodox Rabbi Speaks

About Sex, the Bible, and Religion”

Panel Discussion: “Reading and Teaching Sacred Texts”

2004    Holocaust Survivor George Salton

 Keynote Lecture: “The 23 rd Psalm: A Holocaust Memoir”

 Panel Discussion: Remembering the Holocaust

Concert: To Remember and Record—a concert of music, words, and images

in honor of author George Salton


2003    Dr. Paul B. Miller

 Faculty Member in French and Spanish, Vanderbilt University

Lecture: “Discovering Cuban Music: Neo-Colonial Paradigms in Buena

Vista Social Club”

2002    Dr. Roberto Luis Carrasco

Professor of Communications, Northern Arizona University

Lecture: “Communication as Culture, Culture as Communication”

 Panel Discussion: “The Classroom as Cultural Microcosm”

2001    Dr. Ralph J. Bryson

Distinguished Professor of American Literature, Alabama State University

Lecture Topic: “Can Literature Bridge the Racial Divide?”

Panel Discussion:  “Literature Bridging the Racial Divide”

2000    Dr. Margareta and Lars Wolf

Professors of Geography and Literature, Mid-Sweden University

Lecture: “The New Country: Multicultural Sweden”

Panel Discussion:  “Diversity in Europe: An Ongoing Challenge”

1999    Carroll Parrott Blue

Filmmaker and Professor, San Diego State University

Lecture:  “Carroll Parrott Blue: My Life in Film”

Screenings of Documentary Films “Conversations with Roy de Carava” (1983) and “Mystery of the Senses: Vision” (1995)

1998    Dr. Vinay Lal

Assistant Professor of History, UCLA

Lecture: “Too Deep for Ecology: Gandhi and the Ecological Vision of Life”

Panel Discussion:  “Modern India”

1997    Dr. Francis Abiola Irele

Professor of Black Studies and Comparative Studies, The Ohio State University

Lecture: “Literature and the Modern Experience in Africa”

Panel Discussion: Modern Africa and Literature