DePaul University has appointed British educator and writer Daniel McNeil as its new Ida B. Wells-Barnett Professor. It is the first time a non-American has been appointed to the post, named for the famed civil rights pioneer and dedicated to advancing scholarship and awareness through DePaul’s African and Black Diaspora Studies program.
“I am incredibly honored to be named to this post at DePaul especially as Chicago is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ida B. Wells-Barnett,” said McNeil, a native of Merseyside, England. “I look forward to continuing her work in expanding our understanding of issues of racism and social justice in the U.S. and around the world.”
As part of his outreach to the larger Chicago community, McNeil is hosting a symposium titled “Race, Resistance, Representation: Cultural Criticism in the Digital Age.” The free public event will be held March 7, from 4 to 9 p.m. at DePaul’s Courtelyou Commons, 2324 N. Fremont St., Chicago, and will feature leading scholars discussing the provocative digital-age work of cultural critics who address depictions of the world as post-soul, post-racial and post-black.
McNeil, a scholar of media and cultural studies, is on leave from Newcastle University, a leading university in the United Kingdom. His interests and areas of research range widely and include the creative works of African-Americans who worked outside the United States and how Chicago electronic/house music transformed youth culture around the world, including his native U.K.
During the current academic year, McNeil will teach courses in black cultural criticism and black freedom and modernity in the Atlantic world. He is also researching the work of anti-colonial intellectuals in the mid-20th century including Jean-Paul Sartre and James Baldwin. He is the author of “Sex and Race in the Black Atlantic,” the first book in a new series on the African diaspora.
“Dan McNeil is a prolific scholar who brings an exciting international perspective to DePaul and the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Professorship,” said Charles Suchar, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. “His time at DePaul will be an enriching experience for him, his students, colleagues and the larger Chicago community.”
McNeal holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Oxford University, and received a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Toronto. His additional areas of study include African American history post-1865, Caribbean cultural studies and cultural criticism in the digital age. He has published widely in numerous academic and popular journals on topics ranging from multiculturalism in the media to the national and racial identity of Barack Obama. McNeil has also been a visiting fellow at Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull in the U.K.
DePaul University established its professorship in African-American studies in 1999 and named it to recognize the significance of Wells-Barnett’s voice on behalf of African-Americans. Wells-Barnett was a leading journalist and civil rights crusader of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who fought for the rights of African-Americans and women and who turned a national spot light on the practice of lynching, among other injustices. Born to parents in slavery in Mississippi in 1862, she settled in Chicago in 1893, where she lived and worked until her death in 1931.
Educator and social commentator Michael Eric Dyson, Chicago journalist Laura Washington and poet, publisher and essayist Haki Madhubuti have previously held the post. Wells-Barnett also had family ties to DePaul and two of her grandsons were DePaul graduates: Benjamin C. Duster, received a law degree in 1954, and Donald L. Duster, earned an MBA in 1977.
With approximately 25,000 students, DePaul is the largest Catholic university in the United States and the largest private, nonprofit university in the Midwest. The university offers approximately 275 graduate and undergraduate programs of study on three Chicago and two suburban campuses. Founded in 1898, DePaul remains committed to providing a quality education through personal attention to students from a wide range of backgrounds. For more information, visit www.depaul.edu.