Bethany Professor to Attend Slave Narratives Seminar

BETHANY, W.Va. – Dr. Jessie Janeshek, Bethany College Assistant Professor of English and Director of Writing Across the Curriculum, is one of 27 faculty members chosen to attend “Slave Narratives,” a seminar cosponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The seminar, which is for full-time faculty members in history, English, and related fields, will be directed by David W. Blight, Professor of American History at Yale University.

The five-day seminar, to be held June 21-25, will focus on autobiographical, biographical and fiction slave narratives. Autobiographies, the largest category, consist of works published by slaves in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The works grew in scale as new texts were promoted and printed by the early abolition movement in Britain and the United States.

“The degree of competition for participation was intense – more than three times as many nominations were received as there are places,” said Dr. Richard Ekman, President of the Council of Independent Colleges.

“I plan to offer our 300-level survey course in African American Literature next year, and the CIC Faculty Seminar is extremely valuable preparation for this,” Janeshek said. “Our Humanities Department welcomes the creation of new upper-level courses, and the Seminar will begin to provide me with the specialized knowledge I need to propose a new 400-level class on American Slave Narratives, which I hope would appeal to our students.”

She and her students read slave narratives in two courses currently, she said, so this seminar will provide her with a better understanding of the genre.

Janeshek received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Bethany in 2003, and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Emerson College and a doctorate from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. She has been teaching at Bethany since 2011.

Bethany, a small college of national distinction, is located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus. Bethany, the oldest degree granting institution in West Virginia, was founded in 1840 and traces its origins to the founding of Buffalo Seminary in 1818 at what was then Bethany, Virginia.