Dr. Matthew Pettway

Contact information:

Office phone number: (843)-953-2376

Email: pettwaymjcofc.edu

Matthew Pettway completed his doctorate in Hispanic Cultural Studies at Michigan State University.  Dr. Pettway is a post-doctoral fellow in The School of Languages, Cultures and World Affairs at the College of Charleston where he teaches Spanish and Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Dr. Pettway will give his next PUBLIC TALK, “In Search of My Brother: The Ghosts of Slavery in Black Colonial Cuba”  at the College of Charleston where he is a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Languages, Cultures and World Affairs.  The lecture is open to the public and takes place on Thursday, March 30 at the Education Center in Room 118 at the College of Charleston.   I ponder what we might learn from the descendants of enslaved Africans if we consider their religious practices as an imperative for cultural survival?  When is survival radical?  And what did radical black love look like in Havana in 1838?  By way of answer, I analyze “A Dream: To My Second Brother”, a poem that emancipated poet Juan Francisco Manzano dedicated to his younger brother Florencio, still held in bondage.  I am interested in how Manzano used Spanish Romanticism as a façade for Bakongo-inspired Cuban spiritual beliefs and how those beliefs empowered him to pursue his brother’s emancipation.

Matthew Pettway has taught at Bates College and the University of Kansas in Spanish and Latin American Studies.   At Bates College, he was  affiliated with the African-American Studies program.  Professor Pettway’s work is part of a broader project of literary and historical recovery, akin to what Toni Morrison has termed “a kind of literary archaeology.”  He examines  African-derived religion within Cuban colonial literature as a means to emancipation.  His work places emphasis on the dynamics of race, religion and ritual.  Pettway’s peer-reviewed articles, “Ritual and Reason: Negotiating Freedom in the Literature of Juan Francisco Manzano”, “Black Femininity and the Silence of Domestic Space in ‘The Cemetery on the Sugar Plantation’ by José del Carmen Díaz” and a “Sacred Ways of Meaning and Knowing” have appeared in PALARA, in the Zora Neale Hurston Forum and the American Studies Journal.  Dr. Pettway’s first international publication is “Manzano en el monte: Recuperando el sujeto perdido en ‘Un sueño a mi Segundo hermano’” and was published in the universally acclaimed Cuban journal, Del Caribe.  Last fall he published, “The Altar, the Oath and the Body of Christ: Ritual Poetics and Cuban Racial Politics of 1844,” the inaugural chapter of Jerome Branche’s Black Writing, Cultural and the State in Latin America (2015).  He also contributed four articles to  the Dictionary of Afro-Latin American and Caribbean Biography that Professors Henry Louis Gates and Franklin Knight published earlier this year.

The University of Kansas awarded Matthew Pettway the Langston Hughes Visiting Professorship for fall semester 2013.  He taught a course on gender and race in post-Soviet Cuba, a graduate seminar on blacks in Cuban literature and gave a public lecture on his book research: http://www.matthewpettway.com/?page_id=10.

Dr. Pettway gave three invited lectures.  He spoke at the University of Kentucky’s Caribbean symposium.   His talk was entitled, “The Altar, the Oath and the Body of Christ: Ritual Poetics and Cuba Racial Politics of 1844,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpTGkcVmp5M.  Furthermore, The Maine Humanities Council invited him to give a talk entitled, “Reading through the Invisibility of Race in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.”  The url of his talk is available on his YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTSXoj5Xq2g.  And, he gave an invited lecture at the University of Maine at Farmington where he spoke about African-derived religion and worldview as a means to organizing antislavery rebellion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da0YoLuOCg4

Presently, he is completing a single-authored book manuscript, tentatively entitled, Black Cuban Literature in the Age of Conspiracy: Race, Religion and Ritual in Juan Francisco Manzano and Gabriel de la Concepción Valdés investigating how black poets wrote about African-based religiosity behind the façade of Catholicism and beneath the surface of Spanish literary aesthetics.  This is the first book to examine Juan Francisco Manzano and Gabriel de la Concepción Valdés in critical juxtaposition, not only as divergent personalities but also as erstwhile literary co-conspirators.  Dr. Pettway’s book-in-progress unearths Afro-Cuban texts and reads them against the grain in order to analyze the seditious nature of such writing as well as its redemptive power in the struggle for black liberation.  Matthew Pettway is a native of Detroit, MI.

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