April 04, 2013

Discussion on FBI’s role in Black Arts is April 6

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Association of English Graduate Instructors and Students (AEGIS) and the Department of Africana Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will host a regional conference on Saturday, April 6.

The conference keynote speaker is William J. Maxwell, an expert in 20th century African-American literature.  Maxwell’s topic is “FBI: Minstrelsy: The National Security State Writes Black.”

Maxwell will discuss a recently uncovered federal infiltration campaign that dates from approximately 1919 to 1972 that saw specialized FBI agents impersonating the styles of Black Arts writers.  Maxwell will discuss intelligence agency’s goals in this secretive campaign and its impact on the Black Arts movement.

Maxwell’s address is set for 2 p.m. in Browne Auditorium in the Parkinson Lab building.  The conference is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

The daylong conference includes panel discussions and academic paper presentations from 9:45 a.m. to 12:25 p.m., and again from 3:40 to 6:20 p.m.

Maxwell is an associate professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis, and also director of graduate studies with the university’s Department of African and Afro-American Studies.