Professor Zetta Elliott Featured in Harvard Seminar

February 4, 2014 | Borough of Manhattan Community College

On February 24, Ethnic Studies Professor Zetta Elliott will present a talk in the Canada Seminar at the Weatherhead Center for International Studies at Harvard University.

“I left Canada 20 years ago in part because I wasn’t able to get published and didn’t have the option of studying with Black scholars at the graduate level,” says Professor Elliott. “I think I was invited to participate in the Canada Seminar because my scholarship addresses racism in Canadian publishing and the impact on African Canadian children.”

Her talk, “The (Revolving) Door of No Return: Memory, Migration, and Magical Thinking,” will center on her work-in-progress, The Hummingbird’s Tongue, “which is an exploration of memory, migration, and mental illness in Canada and the Caribbean,” and follows her search for information about her paternal grandmother—and namesake—“who allegedly died in an Antiguan asylum in the 1950s.”

The Hummingbird’s Tongue, Elliott says, “considers the ways mental illness has impacted my family and my own creativity as a children’s book author of fantasy fiction. Drawing inspiration from Dionne Brand’s experimental memoir, A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging (2001), I attempt to weave my own ‘biomythography’ starting with a seminal text I consumed as a child: Margaret Wise Brown’s The Little Island (1946).”