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Kachun to speak on early African-American novel

Feb. 2, 2007

KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University historian will discuss the recent re-publication of an unfinished work by arguably the first African-American female novelist during a visit at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7, at the Otsego (Mich.) District Library.

Dr. Mitch Kachun, WMU associate professor of history, will speak on, "The Curse of Caste; or The Slave Bride," by Julia C. Collins. The novel, published in October 2006 by Oxford University Press, is a re-publication of the work of a 19th-century African-American woman that was edited by Kachun and Dr. William L. Andrews, a literary scholar from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The scholars believe the book is the first novel ever published by an African-American woman and, as such, is key to understanding a literary tradition developed by a newly freed people after the Civil War. Collins' story, serialized in a national newspaper in 1865, was not finished at the time of her death in November 1865. The serials did, however, receive an avid following among readers of the Christian Recorder, a national newspaper published by the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Kachun's discussion is timely during Black History Month, and he will focus on the discovery of a previously unknown author, the general nature of African-American literature from the period and where Collins' book fits in during this period.

The program at the library, 219 S. Farmer St., Otsego, is free and is open to the public.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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