Dr. Barbara A. Mann, assistant professor of humanities in the UT Jesup W. Scott Honors College, recently returned from an international lectureship at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.Mann’s engagement at the university came through its Anglophone Studies Department, which offers degrees in English literatures, primarily in British and American literature and history.
The graduate students in Anglophone studies are required to speak, read and write fluently in English through immersion training and attend lectures on American literature, culture and history taught by an American professor. Students also engage verbally with the visiting faculty member and write papers on the material for their own faculty.
Mann gave three lectures. The first lecture, “Discussion on Recent Trends in Native-American Studies,” focused on the Doctrine of Discovery, which, under a series of 15th-century Vatican papal bulls, justified the European powers’ invasion and seizure of the Americas.
In “Native-American Studies: Indigenous Focuses, Methods and Concepts,” Mann discussed the cultural distinctions between European thought, which is linear and works from a base number of one, and traditional Native-American thought, which tends to be binary and works from a complex twinship principle with a base cultural number of two.
In “The Art and Politics of the Harlem Renaissance,” Duisburg-Essen’s Anglophone graduate students received historical context on and examples of artistic expressions of authors, artists and performers of that cultural movement of the 1920s.
Mann was invited to be the guest lecturer by Dr. Barbara Buchenau, chair of North American Cultural Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen. She heard Mann speak at a conference about 16 years ago and was so impressed that “she kept up on all my research thereafter,” Mann said.
When Buchenau received her funding as the departmental chair to bring in an international speaker for 2013, she told Mann that she instantly thought of her.
Mann did not experience culture shock upon arrival because she had lived in Germany in the late 1960s. However, she was taken aback by just how well her work was known to those in the Anglophone Studies Program.
“Finding all my books in the university library system was humbling,” Mann said. “The students had prior knowledge of who I was.”
Mann said she is looking into bringing a speaker form the University of Duisburg-Essen to the UT Jesup W. Scott Honors College in the future for an ongoing, international research exchange and to forge a teaching relationship between the two universities.