Education Programs: Humanities Initiatives at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Period of Performance

1/1/2013 - 6/30/2014

Funding Totals

$55,755.00 (approved)
$42,697.82 (awarded)

African-American Literary Heritage: Three Mississippi Writers

FAIN: AB-50148-13

Mississippi Valley State University (Itta Bena, MS 38941-1400)
Jianqing Zheng (Project Director: July 2012 to October 2014)

An eighteen-month program of study and curriculum development for university faculty and school teachers on Richard Wright, Margaret Walker, and Sterling Plumpp.

Richard Wright, Margaret Walker, and Sterling Plumpp are the three famous modern and contemporary African American writers who have represented Mississippi in their literary achievements. The hunger for knowledge presented in Wright’s fiction, the awareness of heritage and freedom in Walker’s novel and poetry, and the Jazz/blues tradition in Plumpp’s poetry should still be meaningful topics in the 21st-century humanities programs, specifically in the curriculum at HBCUs in the state of Mississippi. Therefore, it is significant to re-recognize, through this project, the literary achievements of these three writers and emphasize their importance in African American Studies. It is equally significant to examine the philosophical, political, and literary values in their works. This project will certainly turn a new page in the study of these three Mississippi writers.

Associated Products

An Interview with Sterling D. Plumpp (Article)
Title: An Interview with Sterling D. Plumpp
Author: John Zheng
Abstract: In 2013, the NEH Summer Institute devoted a two-day session to the discussion and exploration of Plumpp’s poetry and aesthetics at Mississippi Valley State University. He is the finest blues poet of this century. During his visit to MVSU in July 2013, we had long chats, and I approached him for an interview which was published in the 2013 issue of the Journal of Ethnic American Literature.
Year: 2013
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Journal of Ethnic American Literature
Publisher: Mississippi Valley State University

Conversations with Sterling Plumpp (Book)
Title: Conversations with Sterling Plumpp
Editor: John Zheng
Abstract: Conversations with Sterling Plumpp is the first collection of interviews with the renowned poet of Home/ Bass and other much-admired works. Spanning thirty years and drawn from literary and scholarly journals and other media, these interviews offer insights into his poetic innovation of blues and jazz and his mastery of black vernacular in poetry. This collection seems fundamental to an understanding of the life and work of an African American poet who has been innovative in fusing blues and jazz rhythms with poetic insight and in vivifying the vernacular landscape of African American poetry.
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: webpage
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: University Press of Mississippi webpage
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Type: Edited Volume
ISBN: 9781496807427
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes