Eric Ashley Hairston, Associate Professor of English and of Law and Humanities, co-chaired a three-session seminar and presented at the American Comparative Literature Association Conference at Harvard University, March 17-20.
The seminar on “Adaptation and Cross Cultural Appropriation” included a diverse, interdisciplinary and international assembly of scholars. Presentations explored the adaptation of literature and the appropriation of cultural forms in classical, Islamic, European, Asian, Latin American, U.S., and African and African Diaspora literature, philosophy and film. The panel encompassed the writings of Aristotle, Averroës, Hafez, Rumi, Byrd, Jefferson, Emerson, Dreiser, Hurston, Borges, Alammedine and Coelho, as well as topical discussions of appropriations of Native American and South Korean cultures and adaptation and appropriation in the contemporary films A Better Tomorrow, Haider, and Inception.
Hairston’s paper, “Watching What God(s) Exactly? Classical Influence in the Works of Zora Neale Hurston,” examined Hurston’s classical training and classical allusions in her works. Hairston contextualized her work within the broader African American uses of the classics and tensions between adaptation and appropriation and racial authenticity and identity in 20th and 21st century writing.
The American Comparative Literature Association, founded in 1960, is the principal learned society in the U. S. for scholars whose work involves several literatures and cultures, as well as the premises of cross-cultural literary study itself. ACLA also supports Comparative Literature, the oldest journal in the field.