Womanist to deliver annual Zerby lecture

The construction of social ethics, drawing on the resources available in African-American women’s literary tradition, will be the topic of the annual Rayborn Lindley Zerby Lecture at Bates Sunday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. in the Edmund S. Muskie Archives. The public is invited to attend free of charge.

Like Ripples on a Pond: Womanist Modes of Pebble Ethics will be presented by the Rev. Katie Geneva Cannon, associate professor of religion at Temple University. “Womanism,” a term coined by writer Alice Walker, refers to the unique perspective and experience of women of African descent.

According to Cannon, a native of rural Kannapolis, N.C., “Nobody can declare someone else to be a womanist. It is a confessional term. In claiming it, one says that one starts by standing with Black women’s reality.”

Cannon is the first African American woman to have been ordained in the Presbyterian Church and the first to have graduated with a Ph.D from Union Theological Seminary. Cannon has written numerous articles in addition to two books, Black Womanist Ethics (Scholars Press, 1988) and Katie’s Canon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community (Continuum, 1995).

Cannon also received a master’s in philosophy from Union Theological Seminary, her master of divinity from Johnson C. Smith Seminary and her bachelor of science from Barber-Scotia College. Before joining the faculty of Temple University in 1992, Cannon was associate professor of Christian ethics at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., for eight years. The recipient of numerous academic honors and awards, Cannon has been a Rockefeller Scholar in Residence at the Center for the Study of Black Literature and Culture at the University of Pennsylvania and a Mary Ingraham Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe.

The annual lecture honors the late Rayborn L. Zerby of Lewiston, professor emeritus of religion and dean of the faculty at Bates. Each year, the program brings to campus leading commentators on contemporary religious thought. Previous Zerby lecturers have included Holocaust chronicler Elie Wiesel and the Rev. Peter Gomes, a Bates alumnus and minister of Memorial Church at Harvard University.

For more information, call the chaplain’s office at 207-786-8272.

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