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Author/activist/alumnus Neal to speak at Writers@Work residency
Saturday, December 03, 2016

Author/activist/alumnus Neal to speak at Writers@Work residency

Fredonia alumnus Dr. Mark Anthony Neal

Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, a Duke University faculty member, author and Fredonia alumnus, will explore activism and the use of social media during a two-day Writers@Work residency on Sunday and Monday, Feb. 19 and 20.

Students will have numerous opportunities – a public talk, lecture/discussion session and writing workshop – to hear Dr. Neal’s perspectives on how communication is carried out in an evolving digital world. His presentations will differ from past Writer@Work sessions by focusing on Twitter activism and writing in a digital world.

“At a volatile and important time in our country, we’ve seen our students at Fredonia continue to engage in political dialogue, activism and outreach. Not only is Dr. Neal a distinguished professor with multiple publications, he also brings with him an expertise in writing about and for social justice,” said Katie Szwejbka, an organizer of the Writers@Work series and graduate assistant in the Department of English.

“Unlike our previous writers-in-residence who have offered insight on writing for a specific profession, Dr. Neal will engage students in topics such as Twitter activism and writing in a digital era. His numerous roles as a scholar, author, activist, podcaster and frequent NPR commentator make him a strong addition to our Writers@Work series,” Ms. Szwejbka added.

Bruce Simon, chair of the Department of English, considers Neal to be one of Fredonia’s most distinguished and accomplished alumni, noting that his work combines academic rigor, interdisciplinary breadth and political urgency with a spirit of boundary-crossing and boundary-questioning.

“Building on his groundbreaking contributions to black feminism, black popular culture, and black Twitter, he'll help Fredonia students make connections between social media and social justice, use various genres and modes of writing to transform public spheres, and explore cultural identities through civic engagement and political activism,” Dr. Simon said.

In his public talk, “Will You (Tweet) about Me?: In the Afterlife of Digital Blackness,” Neal will explore issues of activism in the Williams Center Multipurpose Room on Sunday at 7 p.m. The program is free and open to students and community members.

“Teaching Social Justice from the Analog to the Digital Era,” a lecture/discussion focused on the interplay between social justice and the digital humanities, will be delivered twice on Monday in Diers Recital Hall in Mason Hall. The two sessions, both free and open to students and community members, will be held 11:55 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., and 12:30 to 12:50 p.m.

Neal, who writes blogs, hosts podcasts and delivers commentary on National Public Radio, will share his insight at the student-writing workshop “Twitter Activism” in the English Reading Room/Fenton Hall Room 127, on Monday, from 6 to 7 p.m. Neal utilizes Twitter and Instagram for activism and political commentary. The workshop is free and open to all college and secondary school students.

At Duke, Neal is a Professor of African and African-American Studies and Professor of English. Courses that he teaches in the Black Cultural Studies program include “Michael Jackson and the Black Performance Tradition” and “The History of Hip-Hop,” which is co-taught with GRAMMY Award-winning producer 9th Wonder.

Among the five books that Neal has written are “Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic” and “Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities.” Neal also hosts “Left of Black,” a weekly video podcast produced in collaboration with the John Hope Franklin Center of International and Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke. He delivered the Tedx Talk “A History of Black Folk on Twitter.”

Neal, who gave the talk “What if the Greensboro Four had Twitter?: Black Protests from Sit-Ins to Die-Ins” at Fredonia in 2015, received his Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo and his M.A. and B.A from Fredonia. He previously taught at SUNY Albany and the University of Texas at Austin and has spoken at Fredonia on other occasions.

Now in its second year, Writers@Work brings alumni with a variety of educational backgrounds, careers and accomplishments back to campus to give talks, lead workshops, critique student writing and participate in question/answer forums with the overall goal of broadening students’ awareness of the value of writing to professional success.

The series is a partnership between the departments of English, Business, Communication and History, Alumni Affairs and Career Development and is sponsored by the Fredonia Alumni Association, the Fredonia College Foundation and its Carnahan Jackson Humanities Fund and Mary Louise White Fund, and the Faculty Student Association. Fredonia’s Black Student Union is also a partner in Neal’s residency.

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