In this reading series, we will read Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, with a focus on understanding the appeal the genre of speculative fiction has for women writers; what insights the two texts provide us into Butler’s particular vision of the future; and what Butler’s female-centered dystopian narratives tell us about women’s roles in American society.
Instructor: Dr. Brenda R. Smith is a Kent State University Associate Professor Emerita, English. During her tenure at Kent State University at Stark, she taught American, African American, women’s, and modernist literatures, and freshman composition. Dr. Smith earned both her B.A. in English and her Ph.D. in American and African American literatures from Case Western Reserve University. She earned her M.A. in American literature from Cleveland State University. Her dissertation, The Construction of Bi-Cultural Subjectivity in African American Migrant Autobiography, which earned her Case Western Reserve University’s distinguished Neil McIntyre Memorial Essay Award and Kent State University’s Regional Campus Professional Development Award, explored the relationship between African Americans’ involuntary immigration to and voluntary migration within the United States and the formation of American subjectivity. Her current research includes the trans-ethnic study of autobiography and the construction of American subjectivity, and the evolution of the Bildungsroman literary form in African American women’s writing. Dr. Smith, a native Clevelander, currently resides in Twinsburg, Ohio. She is married and has two daughters.