From Homer to the African Epic

Joseph Mbele

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1155 Observatory Drive Madison, WI 53706, 206 Ingraham Hall
@ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Africa at Noon








Speaker: Joseph Mbele

Time: 12:00 pm- 1:00 pm

Venue: 206 Ingraham Hall

This talk explores how epic studies, based primarily on the Homeric epics, impacted and continue to impact scholarship on African epics. It highlights the problematic nature of the concepts we use, addresses the problem of scriptocentrism, and proposes a new orientation for scholarship on African epics.

Joseph L. Mbele, a Tanzanian, is a professor in the English Department at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. He holds a BA in Literature and MA in Development Studies from the University of Dar es Salaam, and MA and PhD in African Languages and Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He first taught at the University of Dar es Salaam in the Literature Department. At St. Olaf College he teaches a wide range of courses, including Folklore, African Literature, Muslim Women Writers, and Hemingway in East Africa. He has won many awards for his work, including a Fulbright scholarship and the Dean’s Fellowship for excellence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Most of his research and publications are in African folklore, particularly epic and folktale, and he is recognized as the leading authority on the Swahili epic of Liyongo Fumo. He is also a cultural consultant, helping Africans and Americans navigate cultural differences. In this role, he has published two popular books: Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences and Chickens in the Bus: More Thoughts on Cultural Differences.