My Experience At the Southwest Commission for Religious Studies
Saturday, I entered arena of scholarship once more, the first time as an “Independent Scholar.” But don’t be deceived, my independence gave me the freedom to ask questions at every session I attended. My goal was to network as much as possible, and I achieved that goal, primarily in the morning.
In the afternoon, I felt I was in good company with the Womanist and Liberationist Ethics session of the AAR, and then a little later at the plenary session lead by Joerg Rieger.
Our panel, the Harlem Renaissance and Black Religion(s), was the first Panel I have been asked to be a part of. It was sort of a risk to go where I had never gone before, to actually do a scholarly presentation on black science fiction, postcolonial theology, Christianity, and race, but I pulled it off. My thesis adviser and Brite professor Keri Day was the moderator, while Phillip Luke Sinitiere also presented on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I also volunteered to read Lou Joseph’s paper on Langston Hughes’s play Emperor of Haiti so he could receive credit on his CV. I felt like this panel was the beginning of something different and special, and Lou’s work was very important. Thus, I felt compelled to volunteer to read (I myself in the past have had a reader for a paper).
The best thing about all of our research projects is the potential for engaging the Harlem Renaissance and Black Religion(s) from an intercultural perspective. With Lou’s look at the Haitian Revolution in light of the Catholic religion and Langston Hughes’ literature, Phillip’s engagement with Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s being influenced by the Negro church tradition, and my observations on the similarities and differences between Irishman C.S. Lewis and George Schuyler, the possibilities are real and endless. It’s part of my vision to be a Black Church scholar for a Multicultural world, and this project may fit the bill. At the panel itself, I spoke for a total of close to 80 minutes (both presentations were at 30 minutes, then the q & a); I just couldn’t stop talking. I was like the Bubba Blue of Black Sci Fi!
I would definitely like to be part of a panel again, even if it’s not about the Harlem Renaissance or science fiction. I would highly recommend you give it a try if you are a student, since it means collaboration with other scholars and more engagement with the audience.