Black Studies Director Named
USC faculty member an expert on radical politics, urban cultures
By Stephen Gawlik
Cynthia Young, an English professor at the University of Southern California who studies the politics and culture of American radicals, is the new director of Boston College's Black Studies Program.
Young, who will arrive later this fall, succeeds Assoc. Prof. Frank Taylor (History), the director of Black Studies since 1993.
Young studies radical politics and culture, black diaspora literature and culture, comparative urban ethnic literatures and cultures and cultural theory. She is the author of a forthcoming book, Soul Power: Culture, Radicalism and the Making of a US Third World Left, a consideration of the intellectual and cultural contributions of leftists of color in the United States.
"In a very strong applicant pool, with impressive scholars at very different stages of their careers, Cynthia Young stood out for the quality of her work, the strength of her reference letters, and for the very interdisciplinary nature of her research," said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Joseph Quinn. "She will obviously make significant contributions in our Black Studies program, but I can also see her strengthening Women's Studies, American Studies and Film Studies as well over the years."
Young holds a doctorate in American Studies from Yale University, where she also earned a master's degree. She completed her undergraduate degree at Columbia University.
Young joined the USC English faculty in 2001 after having worked at the State University of New York in Binghamton.
She is the recipient of numerous fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, she won a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for Minorities and won a Yale University Fellowship.
Since its founding in 1969, the Black Studies Program at Boston College has helped students explore the experience of African Americans and other peoples of the African diaspora, and sample the culture, arts, history and literature of the black peoples of Africa, America and the Caribbean.
Approximately 30 students a year minor in Black Studies. Each year the program offers more than 40 courses - taught by 15 full-time affiliated faculty and 12 part-time faculty members in the arts, humanities and social sciences - to some 1,200 students.
The Black Studies Program also has developed a specialization in local African American history, and has periodically sponsored the "Blacks in Boston" conference to encourage research, education, and preservation of the history and traditions of Greater Boston's African American, African and Caribbean communities.
"As the current Strategic Planning Intitiative makes clear, scholarship in the future is likely to respect traditional disciplinary lines less and less," said Quinn. "Many of our programs, like Black Studies, are at the forefront of this type of work - seeing issues from the perspectives of a number of different disciplines.
"We hope to add to our own strengths in the area by improving our connections to similar academic programs around Boston, and to the Greater Boston community. Cynthia Young is very interested and enthusiastic about these initiatives as well."