Dr. Christopher Stampone – A Guest Lecturer and a Prospective AUBG Professor
As part of the faculty recruitment process, the Arts, Language, and Literature Department at AUBG has initiated its Special Speakers Series, where prospective professors would grant an exhibition lecture to current department members and students. On Monday, March 27, the guest speaker was Dr. Christopher Stampone, a scholar who specializes in American Literature Studies. He presented part of his research on The Demise of the Indians and the Death of the American Culture in the Poetry of William Cullen Bryant.
Before entering the analysis of Bryant’s work, Dr. Stampone
opened his lecture with a short review of a current issue in the US – the Dakota Access Pipeline. The project aims to construct a 1886 km long oil pipeline that starts from Stanley, North Dakota, and finishes at Patoka, Illinois. Representatives of the Meskwaki and Sioux American Indian tribes have opposed the Pipeline because if build it will pass through secret burial grounds. In response, the Indian American society organized a number of protests across the US, covered by the NBC Television Network.
According to the lecturer, the situation in the US, regarding this problem, shares similarities with some of the sociological motives from Bryant’s poetry. In support of his statement, Dr. Stampone presented a short analysis of “The Prairies“, “An Indian at the Burial-place of his Fathers“, and “The White Footed Deer“, which reflect the Antebellum period of the American Indian Society. The guest lecturer pointed out that the author of the poems presented from the point of view of the American Indians at that time with the goal of advocating for their rights. The literature pieces touched upon sensitive issues such as the identity of the American society and their greed for power at that time, the genocide of the indigenous people, and the notion that the decimation of the American Indian population and the destruction of their culture lead to the demise of Nature.
Dr. Dannie Chalk, a member of the commission that reviews new faculty applicants, shared that discussing postcolonial issues, like the ones presented in Bryant’s poems, is a delicate thing to do, considering that the 1820s-1840s historical period was influenced by the Indian Removal Act. According to her, Dr. Stampone’s ability to present a transcending historical and literary issues through the example of the Dakota Access Pipeline was a good thing to see.
“We are always looking for faculty who can communicate with students as well as communicate with other academics and I think that Dr. Stampone did an admirable job of speaking to the students present,” commented Dr. Chalk.
Sezen Hodzha, a fourth-year student taking Dr. Chalk’s American Literature class, expressed her satisfaction with the lecture by pointing out that Dr. Stampone didn’t present the pure literary part of the poems but put them into historical context, which made the subject easy to understand.