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Lecture-Concert Series presents Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., scholar and cultural critic


Feb. 4, 2008 -- Noted scholar and cultural critic Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the featured speaker in the 11th event of Arkansas State University’s 2007-2008 Lecture-Concert Series. Gates will present a lecture, “Bridging the Digital Divide: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Encarta Africana,” on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. in Centennial Hall, Reng Student Services Center/Student Union, 101 N. Caraway Road, Jonesboro. This presentation is sponsored by the Office of Diversity at ASU. The Lecture-Concert Series presents diverse programs to enrich the cultural life of the campus, community, and region. All Lecture-Concert Series performances are free and open to the public.

One of the United States' most influential cultural critics, Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. is both an eloquent commentator and formidable intellectual force on multicultural and African American issues. He is currently the Alphonse Fletcher University
Professor and the Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is widely acknowledged for taking African American studies beyond the ideological bent of the 1970s and 1980s black power movement and bringing it into a scholarly sphere that is equivalent to all other disciplines.

Gates has authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited several books and written numerous articles for national magazines like The New Yorker, Time, and The New Republic. In  2004, Dr. Gates began writing a biweekly guest column in The New York Times. In addition, he is editor of Transition magazine, an international review of African, Caribbean, and African American politics. His books include “Figures in Black: Words, Signs, and the Racial Self,” “The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism,” “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man,” and “Colored People: A Memoir,” a book that traces his childhood experiences in a small West Virginia town in the 1950s and 1960s. He is also the co-author, with Cornel West, of “The Future of the Race.” Gates has edited several influential anthologies as well, including “The Norton Anthology of African American Literature” and “The Schomburg Library of 19th Century Black Women Writers.”

In 2006, he wrote and produced the PBS documentary, African American Lives, the first documentary series to employ genealogy and science to provide an understanding of African American history. In 2007, a follow-up one-hour documentary, Oprah’s Roots: An African American Lives Special, aired on PBS, further examining the genealogical and genetic heritage of Oprah Winfrey, who had been featured in the original documentary. Gates’ 2008 sequel to African American Lives, the new documentary, African American Lives 2, premieres on both AETN and WKNO Wednesday, Feb. 6 and Wednesday, Feb. 13. For local listings, check the PBS website at

Gates is also editor-in-chief of the Oxford African American Studies Center, the first comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field of African American Studies and Africana Studies. He is co-editor, with Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah, of the Encyclopedia Encarta Africana, published on CD-ROM by Microsoft, and in book form by Basic Civitas Books under the title “Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.” Encarta Africana is encyclopedic and comprehensive, dealing with subjects as varied as the history of slave trade to today’s popular hip-hop music.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. graduated summa cum laude with a BA in history from Yale University, and went on to earn both his MA and PhD in English language and literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge. He has held professional appointments at Yale, Cornell, and Duke prior to accepting his current position at Harvard. In 1997, he was named one of Time magazine’s “25 most influential Americans.” He has received 50 honorary degrees, from institutions including the University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, New York University, University of Massachusetts-Boston, Williams College, Emory University, University of Toronto, and the University of Benin.

For more details, contact Dr. Gil Fowler, associate dean for the Honors College, at (870) 972-2308 or via e-mail at, or visit

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