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Eberly News Blog

16 Jul

For a person at any stage in their academic career, the chance to develop personal research interests is a major opportunity. This is especially true for one of West Virginia University’s international graduate students, who will be participating in a summer institute at Cornell University.

Kwabena Opoku-Agyemang, a doctoral student from Ghana, is attending the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell through July 26. The prestigious, inter-university seminar previously has been housed by Dartmouth College and Northwestern University. Opoku-Agyemang’s current research interests include e-literature and the digital humanities, African literature and postcolonial literature.

“The Fellowship allows me to spend six weeks in the Cornell University campus. I will have the privilege of interacting with some of the biggest names in literary theory and criticism, and I hope to apply what I learn to my research,” Opoku-Agyemang said.

Opoku-Agyemang has completed his master’s degree in English, and is now in the initial phases of his doctoral degree in English. He has already completed his first major research article, entitled “Rituals of Distrust: Illicit Affairs and Metaphors of Transport in Ama Ata Aidoo’s ‘Two Sisters’ and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘Birdsong’” and it will be published in the autumn edition of Research in African Literatures.

In the article, Opoku-Agyemang examines the ways in which metaphors of transport influence the reading of romantic relationships between an older married man and a younger unmarried woman in the context of power relations.

“The metaphors of transport are essentially symbols that signify movement. In other words, I look at how some of these symbols in two short stories––a big car, shoes, the sea, birds and a rickety car––inform the ways in which the two writers, a Ghanaian and a Nigerian, analyze the relationships between a married man and a single, unmarried younger woman,” he said.

Opoku-Agyemang’s research interests in African literature, postcolonial literature and electronic literature serve as inspiration for many reasons, and he said he plans to continue studying those specific fields for future work.

“I am fascinated by these fields because the first two relate directly to me, and the third has very interesting implications on how processing and understanding literature evolves with new media genres. At the moment I am thinking of combining these three areas to see how they relate and let that form the basis of my dissertation,” he said.

Apart from participating in the seminar at Cornell, Opoku-Agyemang also has the honor of presenting a conference-length paper at the 56th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association in November. He will present his work “That Kind of Nonsense: Reverse Migration and the Paradox of Societal Expectation in Ayi Kwei Armah’s ‘Fragments.’”

“I think the biggest benefit from the meeting in November is the networking opportunity with scholars in the field,” Opoku-Agyemang said. “I will also hold discussions with leading names in African literature on an informal basis and hopefully all of these will connect with themes at the School of Criticism and Theory.”

Opoku-Agyemang expressed profound gratitude to Hawley Montgomery-Downs, interim associate dean of graduate studies, and Dennis Allen, professor of English, for their continued support of his participation in the summer institute at Cornell University.


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