The Critical Speaker Series Presents Michael Bérubé

Berube Poster Image

The Critical Speakers Series presents a seminar and talk by Pennsylvania State University Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature Michael Bérubé.  The seminar, titled "Disability and Narrative" will take place October 25th at 10:00am in Donovan Lounge, Greenlaw Hall.  The talk, "The Humanities and the Advancement of Knowledge", will take place October 26th at 3:30pm in Toy Lounge, Dey Hall.  Chapters from two of his books, Life as Jamie Knows It: An Exceptional Child Grows Up and The Secret Life of Stories: From Don Quixote to Harry Potter, are available and will be discussed during these events.


Professor Jane Thrailkill to Lecture in Japan

Prof. Jane Thrailkill is embarking on a lecture tour in Japan, which has a vibrant community of scholars who study nineteenth-century American literature. Her first stop is Kagoshima University, which is hosting the annual meeting of the American Literature Society of Japan. 

In Kagoshima City, Jane will deliver two talks. The first, a keynote entitled "Strange Bedfellows? American Literature and Neuroscience," will be followed by a panel discussion and Q & A with local scholars. While in Kagoshima she will also present a lecture on her work in Health Humanities to an interdisciplinary group of researchers and students across the university.

Dr. Thrailkill will then travel by bullet train to Kobe, Kyoto, and Tokyo to deliver talks based on her current book project on the eccentric and brilliant siblings of a famous nineteenth-century American family: Alice, William, and Henry James. 

She will be hosted by scholars at at Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, Ritsumeikan University, and Rikkyo University. The attached flyer announces her talk while in Kobe, a lecture that will focus on Henry James's famous tale "The Turn of the Screw." 

Funding for Dr. Thrailkill's lecture tour has been generously provided by the Japanese universities, with support from Carolina Asia Center, UNC 's Center for Global Initiatives, the Institute for the Arts and Humanities' Schwab Opportunity Fund, and Department of English and Comparative University. 

Departmental Statement on Silent Sam

The faculty of the Department of English and Comparative Literature unequivocally support calls to remove the statue known as “Silent Sam” to a place where it may be properly contextualized. In our assessment, its history and its current prominent location on campus are at odds with the fundamental principles and ideals of UNC that call for the inclusion and dignity of all. We cannot and do not support the ideas that it celebrates in the context of a public university today. Furthermore, we support our students’ rights to freedom of expression and freedom to protest.

Our department’s educational mission is to study and critique the rhetoric, construction, and historical and social context of our cultural narratives in all of their complexity. As researchers and teachers, we encourage our community to continue to learn about the historical context and narratives that surround Silent Sam and other similar memorials and monuments of the early twentieth century. These are far from simple remembrances of fallen soldiers. Erected in 1913, the Memorial to Civil War Soldiers of the University, as it is formally entitled, is inscribed to those Confederate soldiers “whose lives taught the lesson…that duty is the sublimest word in the English language.” That duty, as Julian Carr, Confederate veteran and tobacco manufacturer, described it during his speech at the statue’s unveiling, was for young Southern men to fight and die, if necessary, to “save[] the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South…and to-day, as a consequence the purest strain of the Anglo Saxon is to be found in the 13 Southern States.” Carr dwelled proudly on his own “pleasing duty” shortly after the war of brutally horsewhipping an African American woman, he referred to as a “negro wench,” for allegedly “publicly insulting” a white “Southern lady.” Carr embraced this monument specifically because it memorialized a war fought to perpetuate racial oppression and white supremacy. Despite the nostalgic campus stories that later generations have created around Silent Sam, we must not forget that the Confederate memorials of the early twentieth century embody the Jim Crow era of violent repression and segregation of African Americans. It is possible for the state and region to honor history and the lives of student veterans in ways that do not celebrate the history of enslavement and racial violence. The painful heritage that Silent Sam and similar monuments evoke necessitates study and contemplation, not celebration.

We will continue our efforts to research and teach about this issue and to engage in further public dialogue about the proper actions to be taken for the statue’s relocation and contextualization.

Suggested links for further reading:

Wilson Library’s Guide to Researching Silent Sam

Recent History of the Debate on Silent Sam

Julian Carr’s dedication speech, which is archived in Wilson Library, UNC (Click on Scans 93-112)

Transcription of the speech here:

Description of the Monument on DocSouth

UNC’s FAQ on Silent Sam and other current campus issues (September 13, 2017)

UNC Student protest “10 Silent Sam Facts”

10 Silent Sam Facts

UNC Faculty Council Resolution

Statement from the President of the University of Texas at Austin on the removal of Confederate Statues




Department of English and Comparative Literature Statement on DACA Repeal

Our Department welcomes all students, regardless of immigration status. We condemn the current US administration’s efforts to repeal DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and recognize the pain and suffering this causes for many in our community. We share in the disappointment and sadness that UNC Chapel Hill’s leaders have expressed and join them in supporting all our students.

University leadership’s statement on DACA repeal:



Upcoming Events

November 2017

Radiant Cinema: Light, Life & Luminescence 10/10/2017 - 3:00pm to 11/28/2017 - 4:30pm
Radiant Cinema: Light, Life & Luminescence 10/10/2017 - 3:00pm to 11/28/2017 - 4:30pm
Radiant Cinema: Light, Life & Luminescence 10/10/2017 - 3:00pm to 11/28/2017 - 4:30pm
Radiant Cinema: Light, Life & Luminescence 10/10/2017 - 3:00pm to 11/28/2017 - 4:30pm
Radiant Cinema: Light, Life & Luminescence 10/10/2017 - 3:00pm to 11/28/2017 - 4:30pm