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African Americans and Xenophon, c. 1800–1910

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September 18, 2023

Speaker & Affiliation

John W.I. Lee, University of California at Santa Barbara


4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
010 East Pyne


This talk uses evidence from newspapers, school catalogues, and other documents to reveal the key role that Xenophon’s works—especially the Anabasis and Memorabilia—played in Black education, intellectual life, and popular culture in the United States from around 1800 to around 1910. The talk pays particular attention to curricular developments at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), including prominent schools such as Howard University, Atlanta University, and Fisk University, along with lesser-known institutions scattered across the U.S. South.  It gives attention to Black women’s as well as men’s responses to Xenophon.  It highlights how African American intellectual leaders including Fanny Jackson Coppin, W.E.B. Du Bois, John Wesley Gilbert, and William Sanders Scarborough engaged with Xenophon’s works.  And, the paper explores the important intersections between African American interest in Greco-Roman Classics and African American Christianity.