November 14, 2011
WOOSTER, Ohio — Travis Foster, assistant professor of English at The College of Wooster, will present “Gospel Sermons, Holy Ghost Preachers, and the Politics of Black Fellowship, 1865-1910” at the third and final Faculty at Large lecture of the fall semester on Tuesday, Nov. 15. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, begins at 11 a.m. in Lean Lecture Room of Wishart Hall (303 E. University St.).
Foster will discuss post-Civil War gospel sermons as a popular, politically significant mode of African American literature. Preachers and congregants produced gospel sermons through performances that used both text and gesture. Foster argues that the regularity of these performances allowed congregants to participate in a simultaneously collaborative and improvisational experience. “Gospel sermons thereby facilitated richly open-ended models of democratic community through the high value they placed on indeterminacy as an organizing principle,” said Foster.
Despite claims that “the black church” worked only to create a stable public sphere, gospel preaching styles did not easily sit with predetermined notions of shared African American community. Instead, according to Foster, folk sermons facilitated a provisional fellowship through mutual contact with the destabilizing presence of the Holy Spirit.
Foster, who joined Wooster’s faculty in 2009, specializes in 19th-Century American Literature, as well as queer theory and gender studies. His current research involves a book-length study of the interplay between friendship, literature, and politics after the Civil War. He received his B.A. with honors from Amherst College and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, where he won several awards, including two university fellowships, the Eccles Teaching Award, and the Alexander B. Chambers Prize for superior academic performance.
Faculty at Large lectures will resume in the spring, beginning with a presentation by Jeff Roche, professor of history, on Tuesday, Feb. 7. Additional information is available by phone 330-263-2576 or e-mail.
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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