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MIT names Glave visiting professor


Award-winning author Thomas Glave, an associate professor of English at Binghamton, has been named a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor for 2008-09 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Glave received word of the appointment last month on the 40th anniversary of King’s assassination. “It feels extraordinarily profound — the prospect of teaching in a professorship named for Dr. King,” Glave said. “I’m thinking a lot right now about history and my own connections to Dr. King’s legacy. He really made it possible for us — meaning black people — to teach at these places. There was a time when it wouldn’t have been possible.  Many institutions, of course, still don’t treat black professors as true professionals. In light of that fact, this professorship means even more to me both personally and professionally.”

Glave will teach one class each semester, one in creative writing and another titled “Identity, Sexuality and Gender in Contemporary Caribbean Literature.” He also plans to work on a novel that he began recently and finish a book of essays that’s about half done.

Born to Jamaican parents in the Bronx and raised there and in Jamaica, Glave holds a master’s in fine arts from Brown University. He has received an O. Henry Award for his fiction and traveled as a Fulbright scholar to Jamaica.  Glave, who joined Binghamton’s faculty in 1999, is a founding member of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG).

A prolific writer, Glave is the author of Whose Song? and Other Stories, the forthcoming The Torturer’s Wife (fall 2008) as well as the essay collection Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent (winner of a 2005 Lambda Literary Award). He’s also editor of the anthology Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles (spring 2008).  His work has been admired and supported by some of the world’s major writers, including Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer and American Book Award winner Gloria Naylor.

His fiction and nonfiction have recently appeared in Callaloo and African American Review, and are forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, The Kenyon Review and Bloom. Glave will also be a featured reader at this year’s Calabash Literary Festival in Jamaica. The festival takes place from May 23-25, in Treasure Beach. He was invited to read from Our Caribbean.

MIT established the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor Program in 1995 to enhance and recognize the contributions of outstanding scholars. Appointments have been in academic areas across the institution, in fields including architecture, engineering, humanities, management and science. Scholars must be invited to apply.

Glave’s appointment was made jointly by MIT’s Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies and the Gender and Women’s Studies Program. James Paradis, head of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, said faculty members there knew of Glave’s work and its rich Caribbean tradition and felt he would make a “wonderful addition” to the program.

“It’s a terrific way for us to simply promote a lot of the artistic potential of people who are interested in and work in the tradition of African-American studies or literature and bring that to MIT and make it a part of the campus,” Paradis said. “We are extremely happy to get Thomas to participate.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08