Professor Thomas Spear (Languages and Literatures) has been invited to speak at the “Edouard Glissant, el encuentro de los mundos” conference on Friday, March 22 in the Dominican Republic. Sponsored by the Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo and el Centro de Estudios Francófonos, the colloquium celebrates the life and letters of the noted Martinican writer, poet, and literary critic Edouard Glissant.
Among his many distinctions, Glissant was also a Distinguished Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is widely respected as one of the most influential figures in Caribbean thought and culture. Professor Spear co-translated Glissant’s novel Faulkner, Mississippi (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999). In September 2012, Professor Spear was specially invited to speak about Glissant and two other poets at a conference in Paris, titled “Saint-John Perse, Aimé Césaire, Edouard Glissant: Regards croisés.”
This trip to the Dominican Republic will be Professor Spear’s first. “Perhaps it’s a reminder that Caribbean geographies are sometimes surprising, as I’m invited to speak not of Haitian writers I know so well from the other side of Quisqueya, but about Edouard Glissant from Martinique and William Faulkner from Mississippi,” says Professor Spear.
Overall, it’s been a busy year for Professor Spear—last November, he participated in an event celebrating contemporary Haitian Theatre, specifically the plays and novels of Haitian author Gary Victor at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.
“This was the first time any of Victor’s work had been performed in English,” explains Professor Spear. “It was a great success, with wonderfully staged readings and performances.” Professor Spear was also instrumental in planning Victor’s trip to New York, which included appearances at Baruch College and York College.
In late November, Professor Spear was in Port-au-Prince where he was invited by the Direction Nationale du Livre to give a series of workshops with the French journalist Valérie Marin La Meslée on writing literary criticism.
Professor Spear will give his final lecture for the academic year via Skype to students at the American University in Washington, D.C., on contemporary francophone writers from Mauritius of Indian descent on April 1. The course is titled “Historical and Social Cross-Currents.”
The spring semester is not yet over, but Professor Spear is already looking ahead to the fall. He and Professor Milagros Ricourt (Latin-American Studies) plan to host an event at Lehman celebrating the 100th anniversary of Aimé Césaire, the Martinican poet and statesman (1913-2008).
In addition to his travels and speaking engagements, Professor Spear actively maintains the Île en Île or “Island to Island” website, which is an archive of Francophone-island literatures. In October, the site will celebrate its 15-year anniversary.