Christel N. Temple Wins College Language Association Book Award

Christel N. Temple in a dark jacket

Christel N. Temple, a professor with Pitt’s Department of Africana Studies in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has received the 2021 College Language Association's (CLA) Book Award for “Black Cultural Mythology.”

Founded in 1937 by a group of Black scholars and educators, CLA is an organization of college teachers of English and world languages that serves the academic, scholarly and professional interests of its members and the collegiate communities they represent. Part of the CLA’s mission is to encourage scholarly research in and the teaching of Black literatures and cultures as necessary aspects of higher education. The association will also publish a journal.

Temple’s “Black Cultural Mythology” surveys more than 200 years of figures, moments, ideas and canonical works by such visionaries as Maria Stewart, Richard Wright, Colson Whitehead and Edwidge Danticat to map an expansive yet broadly overlooked intellectual tradition of Black cultural mythology and to provide a new conceptual framework for analyzing this tradition.

Among other comments, judges said the book is “a very necessary and long overdue call for the development of a Black (Africana) Cultural Mythology. It is extraordinarily well researched, having been some 10 years in development, and builds on the idea of black culture as ‘a sacred inheritance.’”

Temple, former chair of Pitt’s Africana studies department, is also an affiliate of the Graduate Program for Cultural Studies, the Critical European Culture Studies doctoral program and the African Studies Program. Her major fields of interest are Africana Cultural Memory Studies, Comparative Africana Literature, Black Nationalism, Pan-Africanism and Afroeuropean Studies.