Literature academic, Dr Phil Ndlela captured audience members with his paper on Authenticity Denied: A Tale of Non-Melanistic Black Youth at the National Association of African American Studies (NAAAS) Conference earlier this month. The conference was held from 11-16 February at Baton Rouge, Louisiana and attracted an estimated 3000 literary experts and enthusiasts with more than 300 research sessions, discussions, performances, presentations and demonstrations. This year’s discourse included topics relating to fine art, demographics, history, politics, economics, education, health, religion and social sciences.
Dr Ndlela’s paper based on Langston Hughes thought provoking epistolary piece Passing highlights themes of identity, politics and economics. He said: “The tale is set during the days of the Great Depression and brings to light the impact of politics and economics on African American families, difficulties endured and race matters. It can be described as a trickster tale where the narrator deploys guile, self-negation and misinterpretation as a means of subverting the colour bar and accessing forbidden fruit. It provides invaluable insights on African American survival strategies in a hostile and polarised socio-economic environment that stymied their upward mobility.”
At the conference, Dr Ndlela was presented with a NAAAS Certificate of Recognition for his “Support of Scholarship within the Academic and Professional Community” and awarded a certificate of appreciation for his participation by Office of the Mayor President of Baton Rouge, Melvin Kip Holden.
Dr Ndlela is a South African and African American literature lecturer at the Department of English. He joined the University in August 2012 and holds a PhD in English Literature from University of Massachusetts. His research interests are South African literature and politics; African American literature and prison writing.
Caption: South African and African American literature enthusiast, Dr Phil Ndlela with Vice-Chancellor, Prof Fikile NM Mazibuko
Issued by: Communications and Marketing Division