Shirley Graham: Citizen of the World
Exhibit in the Michael Schwartz Library
Through May 31, 2012
It began as an assignment to introduce dramaturgical research to students in ENG 347/547: African American Women Playwrights. The play to be researched was I Gotta Home, by Shirley Graham (DuBois), performed in Cleveland by the Charles Gilpin Players at Eldred Hall in 1939. Work in our Special Collections led one student to Tom-Tom, an opera written by Graham in 1932 when she was a student at Oberlin College. Further research revealed that Tom-Tom was performed at Cleveland Stadium, with an audience of 20,000. Tom-Tom was the first opera written by an African American female and earned Graham critical acclaim, yet it was never performed again. Not surprisingly, "Whatever happened to Tom-Tom?" became a research question with broad implications.
This project has presented an opportunity for three student scholars to create an exhibit designed to demonstrate the potential of literature in service to broader learning, to impact an audience beyond the classroom. In so doing, their collective research shares Graham's legacy with the university community and educates the Cleveland community of its critical connections to a woman who left footprints around the world.
Professor Adrienne Gosselin
The exhibit, Shirley Graham: Citizen of the World, which includes books, posters, photos and other memorabilia related to Shirley Graham (DuBois), is open during regular Library hours.