University of Pittsburgh
March 27, 2008

Pitt to Host Symposium April 2 to Mark 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade

Featured speakers are award-winning novelist Barry Unsworth and historian and Pitt professor Marcus Rediker
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-To mark the 200th anniversary of the United States abolition of the Atlantic slave trade in 1808, the University of Pittsburgh will hold a symposium featuring Barry Unsworth, author of the Booker Prize-winning novel "Sacred Hunger" (Nan A. Talese, 1992), an epic of the slave trade, and Marcus Rediker, Pitt professor of history and author of the prize-winning book "The Slave Ship: A Human History" (Viking Penguin, 2007), at 3 p.m. April 2 in Room 2500, Posvar Hall, 230 S. Bouquet St., Oakland.

The symposium, "The Slave Ship in History and Literature," presented by Pitt's Department of History and School of Arts and Sciences, is free and open to the public. Participants will explore the meanings and legacy of the slave trade in history and literature, past and present.

Additional symposium speakers are Jerome Branche, associate professor of Latin American and Cultural Studies in Pitt's Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures; Edda Fields-Black, associate professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University; Rebecca Shumway, assistant professor of history in Pitt's Department of History; and Stefan Wheelock, assistant professor of English in Pitt's Department of English.

At Pitt since 1994, Rediker is the author of "Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age" (Beacon Press/Verso, 2004); "The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic" (Beacon Press/Verso, 2000); "Who Built America? Working People and the Nation's Economy, Politics, Culture, and Society," Volume 1 (Pantheon Books, 1989); and "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750" (Cambridge University Press, 1987).

The Organization of American Historians (OAH) named Rediker Distinguished Lecturer for 2002 through 2008 and has selected him as the 2008 Merle Curti Award winner for "The Slave Ship." He will receive the award March 29 at the 101st OAH annual meeting in New York City.

Unsworth, who lives in Umbria, Italy, was a visiting professor at the University of Iowa in 1999 where he taught in the Iowa Writers' Workshop and, in 2004, at Kenyon College, teaching literature and creative writing.

His books include "The Ruby in Her Navel: A Novel of Love and Intrigue in the 12th Century" (Nan A. Talese, 2006); "Losing Nelson" (Nan A. Talese, 1999); Pascali's Island (M. Joseph, 1980), the first of his novels to be a finalist for the Booker Prize; Mooncranker's Gift (Allen Lane, 1973), which won the Heinemann Award; "Morality Play" (Nan A. Talese, 1995), short listed for the Booker Prize; "Stone Virgin" (Houghton Mifflin, 1986); "The Partnership" (W. W. Norton & Co., 1st American Ed edition, 2001), his first novel published originally in 1966; and others.

For more information, call 412-648-7451.