Hobart Festival of Women Writers enthusiastically welcomes Ifeona Fulani as a Participating Writer for Festival 2019.
Ifeona Fulani is the author of the novel Seasons of Dust, which follows a Jamaican immigrant family over the course of five decades, beginning in 1950, as well as the more recent short story collection Ten Days in Jamaica. She also edited the nonfiction work Archipelagos of Sound: Transnational Caribbeanites, Women and Music. She is the recipient of the Mitchener Fellowship – University of Miami, New York Times Creative Writing Fellowship, Burke-Marshall Fellowship – NYU, and McCracken Fellowship – NYU. Ifeona Fulani is a Clinical Professor in the Liberal Studies department at New York University. She has taught in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the Gallatin School, the College of Arts and Science, as well as, the Eugene Lang School, The New School.
Ifeona Fulani spoke recently with Stephanie Nikolopoulos about her life and work
SN: You developed a “Women, Literature and Film” course for New York University to teach on “women’s creativity and experience across cultures.” This sounds like it could be its own major! Can you tell us a little bit more about how you approach the diversity of women for the course and what you want students to gain from it?
IF: The course was intended to address three key questions: Why is it important to consider women’s writing as a distinct literary category? Why is it necessary that we bring to the acts of reading and watching films increased awareness of gender differences as well as differences between our own conditioning, and that of others from different cultures and locations? In addition, students explored and compared the treatment of themes relating to the social and cultural contexts and private lives of women, as they are represented in a selection of fiction, non-fiction and film by, and about, women. The texts we read and viewed were drawn from varied cultural backgrounds; themes included women as creators and consumers of literature and film; the creation and re-invention of gender identities; mothers, daughters and families; the body and sexuality. Our discussions also addressed related topics, such as cultural influences on women’s creative self-representation; ways of reading women’s writing; ways of viewing films by, and for women; formal traditions and experiments with form; and the impact of feminism on women’s writing and film-making.
SN: You edited Archipelagos of Sound: Transnational Caribbeanities, Women and Music, which explores how Caribbean music has traveled the world. How is island music important to Caribbean women of the diaspora?
IF: Now that’s a dissertation topic! It’s such a broad question, I couldn’t possibly address it adequately without doing ethnographic research and writing a research essay. I would simply say that the importance of music to Caribbean women would vary according to age, location and culture. The essay volume Archipelagos of Sound actually focuses on the careers and contributions of particular performers and musicians, such as Celia Cruz, Tonya La Negra and Grace Jones.
SN: You were born in Jamaica, received your BA from the University of Nottingham, England, and then earned your MFA, MA, and PhD at New York University. How have these various locales shaped your literary voice and calling?
IF: Being Jamaican by birth and raised in large Jamaican family has given me an enduring fascination with the island, its people, its history, its language—endless material for writing, in other words. Writing Jamaican creole in a way that represents its richness is a persistent priority, but also a persistent challenge as there is no generally standard orthography for it. Growing up in London has endowed a similar legacy; London always emerges at some point in my fictions, even when they center Jamaicans. My education provided opportunities for learning and reading, and at the MFA and doctoral level, writing and research skills that are invaluable to a novelist and academic.
LISTEN TO Ifeona Fulani reading an excerpt of her work:
Afro-Asian Mixtapes: Overlapping Literary Diasporas in the Caribbean
Ifeona Fulani joins Hobart Festival of Women Writers for the first time and she’ll be presenting the workshop Nothing Happens Nowhere: Grounding Your Story in Place in which participants will explore how setting impacts characters. For a fuller description of this workshop and all the others being offered at Hobart Festival of Women Writers 2019
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HOBART FESTIVAL OF WOMEN WRITERS 2019
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including all of the Q&A of our first- time writers conducted by Stephanie Nikolopoulos for Hobart Festival of Women Writers.
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