ERIC Number: EJ707720
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Nov-4
Reference Count: N/A
Uncovering Frank Yerby: Journey to the Ph.D. Leads One Scholar to Madrid, Spain, to Unravel the Complexities of an Expatriate Best-Selling Novelist
Smiles, Robin V.
Black Issues in Higher Education, v21 n19 p28 Nov 2004
While working to finish the first chapter of her dissertation, Robin Smiles was offered the opportunity to travel oversees. As a chaperone for a group of college students to Athens, Greece, she was free to pursue research for the first chapter of her dissertation, once she had successfully accompanied the students to Athens and assisted with their orientation. Her dissertation chapter centers on Frank Yerby, an African American writer, who wrote a number of best-selling popular romance novels beginning in the 1940's. Yerby was born in Augusta, Ga., in 1916. He attended the historically Black colleges Paine Institute and Fisk University, and taught briefly at both Florida A&M and Southern universities. Yerby was a complicated man, particularly in terms of race. He faced harsh criticism from African American intellectuals for his refusal to publicly acknowledge his racial identity. Yet, at the same time, he argued that he did not deny his race; he "simply" made no mention of it. As a result, many of his readers had no idea he was Black. In the early 1950s, he left the United States, moving first to France and then to Madrid where he spent the rest of his life. What was his life like abroad? With whom did he socialize? But most importantly, how did his expatriation influence his American and African American identities? Smiles, found the prospects of uncovering answers to these questions, and conducting research in a foreign country both intriguing and challenging. This article describes her difficulties and success as she proceeds on this journey through the city of Madrid in search of more details about Yerby's life.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Florida; France; Greece; Greece (Athens); Spain; Spain (Madrid); United States