Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Re-Imagining the Humanities Enterprise: Story and Pedagogy

Eleanor Traylor.

A remarkable feature of contemporary fiction, notably African-American and recently emergent literatures is a tropical configuration of an Academy. Its mission, objectives, and outcomes assessment map a vision for a re-defined humanistic endeavour in the Academy and for the World. My paper will identity the “Academy” built in The Salt Eaters (1980) of Toni Cade Bambara, the “Convent” in Toni Morrison’s Paradise (1988), the “Ark” in Henry Dumas’ “Ark of Bones” (circa 1968), and similar images in the fictions of Arundhati Roy of India and Keri Hulme of New Zealand as images of this vision. The paper points to a shared view of “the role of the humanities in thinking the shape of the future and the human” as enunciated in contemporary fiction. This shared view establishes the bankruptcy of discourses driven by scientific, technological, and economic rationalisms or by unexamined logocentisms. What is needed, these contemporary stories posit, is a new vocabulary which transforms the economy of desire and, therefore, changes our view of the world and of knowledge.


Eleanor Traylor  (United States)
Chairman/ Professor
The Department of English College of Arts and Sciences
Howard University

Eleanor W. Traylor, Graduate Professor of English and Chairman of the Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences at Howard University, is an acclaimed scholar and critic in African-American literature and criticism. She is currently working on a book on the pedagogy of African-American narrative.

  • Bones
  • Ark
  • Convent
  • Academy
  • Atemporal
  • Mission
  • Objectives
  • Outcomes assessment
  • Economy of desire
  • Pedagogy

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)