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Dr. Joseph Skerrett lectures at the University of Connecticut

 Digital Record


  • 1985 September 10


Dr. Skerrett was the primary instructor for the course for this semester. He was introduced by Edward O'Connor who reviewed the structure of the class and expectations before Skerrett began his presentation. Joseph Skerrett's lecture was on his role as a critic because what he is interested in is what the writing is doing for the artist, the writer, the composer, the actor. This is a particularly complicated issue for the minority artist--to work in an alien and frequently hostile environment. To talk about what the Black experience in the arts is to address just this issue.

Biographical / Historical

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1943, Joseph Skerret, Jr., he received his bachelor's degree in English from St. Francis College in 1964. He then attended the creative writing program at Johns Hopkins University, where he received his master's degree in 1965. In 1975, he was awarded his doctorate in English from Yale University, where he specialized in 20th century African-American literature.

Joe Skerrett joined the University of Massachusetts English department in 1973 where he taught courses in African American Literature, Multi-Ethnic Literature and courses in the American studies program which he chaired for a time. He was the author of several books, most recently the widely-used, Literature, Race and Ethnicity: Contesting American Identities (Longmans). He was an authority on the writer James Purdy. He also published numerous scholarly articles and delivered many presentations at professional conferences. Among his other scholarly achievements, he helped edit the Encyclopedia of English Studies and Language Arts, and served as past president of the academic society Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS). He was known for his efforts to promote and create opportunities for scholarship on ethnicity worldwide. For a number of years, on leave from UMass, he worked as an associate of Frank Macchiarola who served as chancellor of the New York City school system.

In 1996, Joe received the UMass Chancellor's Award for Multiculturalism. Established in 1993, this annual award recognizes members of the UMass community who have distinguished themselves by increasing awareness of multicultural issues on campus. In 1998, St. Francis College awarded him an honorary Doctor of Literature degree.

Joseph T. Skerrett, emeritus professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, died at his home in Belchertown, MA, on 25 July 2015.

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1 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recordings) : RR 312 1 reel, Side A-1:04:39, Side B-0:23:29; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. The recordings were combined for ease of listening. The combined run time of the digital recording is 1:28:03.

Existence and Location of Originals

Original audio recordings reside in the University of Connecticut, Black Experience in the Arts Collection, Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US