UofM Egyptian Institute Will Host March 15 Lecture on "First Tale of Setne Khaemwas"

March 7, 2016- The Institute of Egyptian Art & Archaeology at the University of Memphis will host the 13th annual Legacy of Egypt Lecture on Tuesday, March 15, at the Michael D. Rose Theatre, room 115. Dr. Steve Vinson, associate professor of Egyptology at Indiana University, will present at 7 p.m. A reception will precede the lecture at 6:15 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

Parking is available in the Zach Curlin garage adjacent to the University Center.

Originally trained in anthropology and nautical archaeology, Vinson has often written about Egyptian boats, ships, nautical transportation and trade. More recently, he has turned his attention to Egyptian literature, particularly the literature of the Greek and Roman periods. He is currently completing a book on historical and narrative approaches to the "First Tale of Setne Khaemwas."

Vinson will be speaking on the reception by African-American authors in the 20th century of an ancient Egyptian ghost story known as the "First Tale of Setne Khaemwas." The sensational, and even lurid, subject matter of the ancient Setne story became enmeshed with modern popular culture through its influence on the Victorian-era fiction of H. Rider Haggard and the 1932 film The Mummy. Less well known, however, is the influence of the Setne legend on African-American literature, including works by Harlem Renaissance author Zora Neale Hurston and MacArthur Foundation fellow Ishmael Reed.

Through these authors' works, the tale of Setne became intertwined with the legend of Moses. This new and evolving narrative was informed by a broad understanding of ancient Egypt's past that was current in the early and mid-20th century. At the same time, it addressed concerns that were of special relevance to the African-American community, including the long-standing image of Moses as a liberator; pan-Africanism; a more specific "Egyptocentrism;" and, particularly in the case of Ishmael Reed, writing in the 1970s, of black liberation.

For more information, email Dr. Joshua Roberson at jrbrson4@memphis.edu or call the IEAA at 678-2555.

Dr. Joshua Robertson