This episode of the Maine Humanities Council’s Humanities on Demand podcast series is a recording of Cedric Gael Bryant’s talk, “Reading Metaphor, Race, and the Problem of Knowing in Absalom, Absalom!.” This talk was recorded at Bowdoin College on March 7, 2015, as part of Winter Weekend 2015 with William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!
Dr. Bryant is the Lee Family Professor of English at Colby College. His specializations include African American Literature, Southern Literature, race, gender, and sexuality. Teaching is an unapologetic passion and inextricably bound up with his scholarship, which has been published in The Southern Review, MELUS (The Journal of the Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States), Modern Fiction Studies, The African American Review, and The Oxford Companion to African American Literature. In 1996, the Carnegie Center for the Advancement of Teaching named Dr. Bryant “Professor of the Year” for the state of Maine.
In this podcast, he digs deep into the text. “Language, race, and knowing are my subjects,” he says. “And each is inextricably linked to communication. Or rather, to the possibility of communication, which is a very American, modernist, and Faulknerian matter. [Faulkner’s] characters all speak in a language of metaphor, and it is metaphor that must be used to understand each character’s attempts…to say the unsayable.”