DR. JOHN S. WRIGHT Morse-Amoco Distinguished Teaching
Professor of Afro-American & African Studies and English at the University of Minnesota. Born in Minneapolis Wright received degrees in three different fields from the University of Minnesota his Ph.D. (1977, American Studies), M.A., (1971, English and American Literature), and B.E.E. (1968, Electrical engineering). Before leaving the University in 1973 to develop a program in Afro-American & African Studies at Carleton College, he participated in the student movement that helped found its Martin Luther King Program and its Department of Afro-American & African Studies. While chairing the Afro-American & African Studies Program at Carleton from 1974-82, he spent research leaves at Harvard and Atlanta Universities, and in 1977 directed a study program in London on postcolonial literatures in English. He returned to the University of Minnesota to chair the Department of Afro-American & African Studies from 1984-89 and 1995-96.
He has twice been appointed a Research Associate at Harvard University's W.E.B. Dubois Institute (1982 and 1991), and was a member of its Working Group on Black Intellectual History from 1991-93. In 1991 he was also Scholar in Residence at the Schomburg Research Center in Harlem. His scholarly research and writing focuses on the literary, cultural and intellectual history of the African diaspora and on the meanings of American cultural pluralism. Representative publications include A Ralph Ellison Festival, a 1980 special volume of The Carleton Miscellany, co-edited with poet Michael Haper; the major catalog essay for the Harlem Renaissance exhibit, A Stronger Soul Within a Finer Frame: Portraying African-Americans in the Black Renaissance (1990); and an extended essay on African American intellectual life commissioned for the multivolume Encyclopedia of African American History and Culture (1995).
He is the Principal Scholar for the Archie Givens, Sr. Collection of African American Literature and Life, a nationally acclaimed archive of Afro-Americana, and its Harlem Renaissance national touring exhibit, originally sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He currently serves as Principal Scholar for a traveling exhibition project, Say It Loud: The Black Arts Movement and American Culture 1960-1975. He leads a variety of Givens Collection teacher training and community outreach projects, helps sponsor poetry and fiction readings and conferences. A former board member of the Minnesota Humanities Commission, and a former Lila Wallace Consulting Scholar for the Tyrone Gurthrie Theater ( in which capacity he fostered the Gurthrie production of Theodore Ward Big White Fog and its adaptation of George Schuylers Black No More), he is a continuing Advisory Board member of Penumbra Theater in St. Paul -- August Wilsons theatrical home for many years. Selected honors include his being named a CLA Scholar of the College of 1987-89, and being awards the Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship in 1990. In 1994 the University of Minnesota Alumni Association made him an inaugural member of its teacher Hall of Fame.