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Celebration planned for professor’s book release Nov. 5

Posted October 25, 2007

The Idaho State University Department of English and Philosophy invites the community to celebrate the book launch of “The American Protest Essay and National Belonging: Addressing Division” by Brian Norman, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department.

The reception, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Piccolo Gallery, 501 North Main Street, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 5. There will be a toast and a few words about the book at 6 p.m. Copies of the publication will be available at the reception.

Norman’s book uncovers a rich tradition of essays by writers who also serve as spokespersons for American social movements throughout the nation’s history. In doing so, he demonstrates that the American protest essay is a distinct form that draws from both the European-born personal essay and American political oratory anchored in social movements.

Using the works of 20th century writers like James Baldwin, Vine Deloria, Alice Walker and W.E.B. DuBois, he places the writers in a tradition dating back to the nation’s founding. Norman draws on feminist and multicultural studies and movements as he explains how the protest essays offer a story that addresses, rather than represses, division.

“Scholars and readers have long recognized the political importance of these essays, and I’m hoping this book will also show they belong in a distinct literary tradition,” Norman said. He feels these writings represent “key debates about American identity, national ideals of equality, and exclusion from those promises” and belong in their own genre.

As well as being an assistant professor, Norman is co-director of the Women’s Studies program at ISU. This is his first scholarly book and a major contribution to humanities research at ISU.

His articles and essays have appeared in journals such as Duke University’s “differences,” and “Frontiers,” by University of Nebraska Press. As well as contributing to the “African American Review,” Norman has co-edited a special issue on “Representing Segregation.”

For information about the book launch, contact Jennifer Adkison at (208) 282-2308. For information about the book, visit www.sunypress.edu. For information about research activities at ISU, see www.isu.edu/research.