Volume 78
Number 1

Playing by the Book

The Magic of Science

Vaccine Research Center

A Gringa Goes to São Paulo

Emory University

Association of Emory Alumni

Current News and Events

Emory Report



Sports Updates





















































“To set the darkness echoing . . . ”

In Irish poet Seamus Heaney’s work, “Personal Helicon,” the Nobel Prize recipient recalls his childhood propensity for gazing into wells at the reflection of his pale face hovering over the bottom.

But now, he concludes,

. . . To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring

Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme

To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.

Two Emory scholars–Stephen Ennis, curator of literary collections, and Goodrich C. White Professor of English Ron Schuchard–are co-curating an exhibition of contemporary Irish writers, “To Set the Darkness Echoing: An Exhibition of Irish Literature, 1950-2000,” at New York City’s Grolier Club, which includes original drafts of Heaney’s poems.

The exhibition, which will run from May 15 to July 27, traces the careers of outstanding Irish poets, playwrights, and novelists through manuscripts, letters, photographs, books, and art. Most of the materials are drawn from Emory’s broad Irish literary collection, which is “the largest outside of Ireland for the study of contemporary Irish poetry,” says Ennis.

“We have the papers of a dozen major writers,” Schuchard says. “People come here from all over the world to use the collections for study and research. And it’s a living collection–the poets themselves come to Emory to give readings and occasionally to teach here.”

Highlights include Samuel Beckett’s manuscript notebook for Waiting for Godot, Heaney’s Nobel Prize medal, original worksheets of the Belfast Group poets, and manuscript drafts of poet Michael Longley’s book The Weather in Japan (winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry in 2000.)

The Grolier Club is the leading book collector club in the United States and has members from all over the country and abroad.–M.J.L.

Awake at last:

Emory exhibit recognizes contributions of local
African-American families to the University

Wedding quilts, family photos, a small wooden ironing board, and documents listing slaves owned by Emory College’s early faculty and administrators are all part of the exhibit “A Dream Deferred: African Americans at Emory and Oxford Colleges, 1836-1968,” on view in the Special Collections department of the Robert W. Woodruff Library.

The stories told are those of Oxford’s African-American families who worked in service to Emory during the years before it was officially desegregated.

“We knew that Emory College had been founded at Oxford in 1836, during the time of slavery, and that the school had benefited from African-American labor throughout its history, during many generations,” says Oxford Assistant Professor Mark Auslander. “Yet, who precisely were these persons, in slavery and freedom, who raised the college’s buildings and who cared for the students, faculty, and college grounds for so many decades?”

Students in Auslander’s fall 2000 anthropology class “Cultures of the African Diaspora,” did extensive archival and oral history research in Oxford, searching through fragile records in the county courthouse, University collections, state archives, and private family papers. They also interviewed older men and women in the community, black and white, about slavery, employment, and the early years of the college. The result was this exhibition, named for a line from Harlem poet Langston Hughes’ “Montage of a Dream Deferred.”

The class discovered that many of Emory’s early professors, trustees, and presidents were slaveowners, from James Osgood Andrew to Bishop George Pierce. Oxford’s slaves were liberated in 1864, with the arrival of General William T. Sherman’s troops. “Although this history was deeply disturbing to many of us, the class felt it was important to tell it honestly and without flinching,” Auslander says.

The exhibit includes some proud moments from Emory’s racial history as well, such as a copy of Emory President Atticus G. Haygood’s book, Our Brother in Black: His Freedom and His Future, and artifacts from the Sledd affair of 1902, when Emory Professor of Latin Andrew Sledd published an article in Atlantic Monthly denouncing lynching.

“The wonderful thing about this exhibit is that it really did originate from student research,” says Virginia J. H. Cain, University archivist. “And so many families lent special items that personalize the stories.”

The exhibit’s opening on the Atlanta campus was marked with a January ceremony in Cannon Chapel, which also paid tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. As the Martin Luther King Jr. Interdenominational Choir of Newton County sang lively gospel music, speakers including Oxford Dean Dana K. Greene and President William M. Chace recognized the Godfreys, the Gaithers, the Mitchells, the Thompsons, the Joiners, the Williams, and many other local African-American families who “contributed to the campus in innumerable ways . . . despite unjust exclusion and discrimination. Generations labored with the knowledge that neither they nor their children would be able to attend Emory or Oxford.”

Emory Psychology Professor Eugene Emory, who has traced his family lineage back to slaves owned by Emory’s namesake Bishop John T. Emory, spoke of making reparations by granting scholarships to descendants of these former employees. “There is value in dialogue,” Emory says, “but reconciliation means you are actually going to do something.”–M.J.L.



© 2002 Emory University