UT Schedules ‘Africa Semester’

KNOXVILLE — A semester-long celebration of the culture, history, art and entertainment of Africa is scheduled at the University of Tennessee starting in January.

“Africa At Home/Home in Africa” will continue through commencement in May. It is designed to highlight the cultural ties between Africa and other cultures worldwide and over time, Provost Loren Crabtree said.

Featured events include an international conference, a theatrical production, a major exhibit at McClung Museum, a film series, and appearances by internationally acclaimed performers.

Africa Semester will touch all aspects of university life, Crabtree said.

“Africa’s history is rich in tradition and culture, but the image many people have of it is clouded by stereotypes or lack of information about modern Africa,” Crabtree said.

“At the end of Africa Semester, I believe students, faculty, staff and the community at large will have a much greater appreciation of this powerful and emerging continent.”

Most of the activities will be open to the public.

A McClung Museum exhibit, “The World Moves, We Follow: Celebrating African Art,” is scheduled to open Jan. 10, said Dr. William Dewey, UT art historian who is curator of the exhibition. Dewey and other faculty on the steering committee are planning and coordinating events for Africa Semester.

Other faculty committee members and their UT departments are: Leslie Gay, music; Dr. Rosalind Hackett, religious studies; Dr. Carolyn Hodges and Dr. Stephanie Ohnesorg, modern foreign languages; and Amadou Sall, African and African-American studies. Students from the African-American Students Association also are participating in the planning.

Several major events will follow in February and March, starting with a kick-off celebration Feb. 4 in the University Center Ballroom.

An international conference, “Cultures in Motion: The Africa Connection,” will open Feb. 6, said Hodges, professor and head of modern foreign languages. Hodges and Ohnesorg are co-chairing the conference.

More than 60 scholars from around the world have indicated they will present papers at the four-day conference.

“The conference is not just about Africa,” Hodges said. “It also will look at Africa and its interconnections with the world. We are very pleased with response to the call for papers and the diversity of topics they represent.”

A theatrical production to coincide with the conference will be announced soon by the UT Theatre Department.

“Regional Collections of African Art,” an exhibit at Ewing Gallery, will open Feb. 10 and run through March 4.

Performances by Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the Soweto Street Dance Company are set for March.

Events will be added to the calendar frequently, Dewey said. Persons interested in Africa Semester and the calendar of events should check the program’s Web site frequently at http://pr.tennessee.edu/africa/.