I've been doing all of my blogging in December (which hasn't been much) at my African Soul, American Heart blog. But I am back in the US, and have a little more time to blog before the month runs out.
The African Soul project has taken over my life, so I am now starting to think about presentations and publications related to the project. The Modern Languages Department at NDSU is hosting a world literature conference in the spring (11th annual), so I am starting to think about a paper with the working title of "Season of Migration to the West," which would provide an analysis of Eggers What is the What? (WW) in the context of the most famous Sudanese novel, Season of Migration to the North (SMN), and maybe Heart of Darkness (although that might be too much for a 20 minute paper). The most disturbing thing about SMN is the violence against women, and the tragedy at the heart of WW is the main character's loss of his girlfriend to a brutal attack. Eggers' fictionalized the life of Valentino Deng, so I don't know what the veracity of this episode is, but there were two brutal attacks in the American Sudanese community in 2005 that this (likely) fictionalized event could be based on. These parallel fictional events highlight that, 35 years apart and worlds of Sudanese experiences apart, violence against women and the need for feminism in Sudan remains one of the most necessary stages of economic and social development for the country.
My idea is way off topic so I'll have to talk to the organizer, and even if I don't present at RRCWL, I will need to keep reading and thinking through this idea. Ideally, I need to figure out how to connect it more effectively to what I have learned from my trip to Sudan, where it is obvious that feminism is desperately needed, and is perhaps being embraced (at least in part) by a recognition that girls in Sudan must be educated.