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10-03-2008

Clarkson University & SUNY Potsdam Profs Co-Edit Essays about Walter Mosley’s Fiction

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/brady-maus.jpg]

Clarkson University Associate Professor of Humanities Owen E. Brady and SUNY Potsdam Associate Professor English and Communication Derek Maus have collaborated to produce Finding a Way Home: A Critical Assessment of Walter Mosley’s Fiction, which will be available in early October from University Press of Mississippi.

The book is a co-edited collection of scholarly essays that represents the first volume of critical work on one of the most prodigious and critically acclaimed contemporary African-American writers. The publication of the book, which includes 12 essays from scholars from four countries, represents the culmination of five years of work that began with a pair of conference panels at the Northeastern Modern Language Association meeting in spring 2003.brady-maus

The essays trace Mosley’s distinctive approach to representing African-American responses to the feeling of homelessness in an inhospitable America. Mosley writes frequently of characters trying to construct an idea of home and wrest a sense of dignity, belonging and hope from cultural and communal resources.

The essays also examine Mosley’s queries about the meaning of "home" in various social and historical contexts. Essayists consider the concept -- whether it be material, social, cultural or virtual -- in all three of Mosley’s detective/crime fiction series ("Easy Rawlins," "Socrates Fortlow" and "Fearless Jones"), his three books of speculative fiction, two of his "literary" novels ("RL’s Dream," "The Man in My Basement") and in his recent social and political nonfiction.

The collection explores Mosley’s modes of expression, his testing of the limitations of genre, his political engagement in prose, his utopian/dystopian analyses, and his uses of parody and vernacular culture.

Maus said it is very satisfying to see the work finally in print.

"We went through numerous stages of compilation, addition and revision over the course of five years before it finally was ready to publish," he noted. "It’s nice to see that all that work has come to fruition. I think it’s a remarkable book in the end, and the variety of perspectives contained within it not only speak to the talents of our contributors but to the sometimes overlooked complexity of Mosley’s writing and thought."

Brady commented on the sense of community that working together with Maus and the other contributors created.

"Finding so many colleagues in so many different countries that shared our interest in Mosley’s fiction was rewarding and confirmed our view that his popular work is artistically sophisticated and provides a unique view of American society," he said. "And working with Derek was intellectually stimulating and a lot of fun."

In addition to his duties as an associate professor, Brady is the coordinator of the American Studies Program at Clarkson University. His work has appeared in "Callaloo," "Obsidian" and many other periodicals.

Maus specializes in contemporary world literature and multicultural American fiction at SUNY Potsdam. His work has appeared in Symbolism, Southern Quarterly and other periodicals.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Derek Maus and Owen Brady.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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