Hale, Thomas A.

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Hale, Thomas A.


Education: Tufts University, B.A., 1964, M.A., 1968; University of Rochester, Ph.D., 1974.


Home—State College, PA. Office—211 Burrowes Bldg., Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802. E-mail—[email protected]


Educator, writer, and editor. Peace Corps, Niger, agricultural cooperative assistant, 1964-66; Tufts University, Medford, MA, aide to chairman of romance languages, 1966-68, administrative assistant to director of Tufts University National Defense Education Act French Institute for Undergraduates, 1967, teaching assistant in French, 1967-68; Lycée Pascal, Department of Language and Linguistics, Clermont-Ferrand, France, assistant in English, 1968-69; University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, teaching assistant in French, 1971-72; Pennsylvania State University, University Park, beginning 1973 as instructor, then assistant professor, associate professor, and professor of African, French, and comparative literature, then liberal arts professor of African, French, and comparative literature, head of the French Department, 2001—, coordinator of African Studies Advisory Committee, Department of African and African-American Studies, 1975-2000, graduate officer in Comparative Literature Department, 1993-2001. Visiting Fulbright Senior Lecturer at Université de Niamey, Niger, 1980-8l. Has held numerous academic administrative posts.


African Literature Association (cofounder; secretary-treasurer, 1974-79), American Association of Teachers of French, Modern Language Association of America, American Comparative Literature Association, African Studies Association (national panels chair, 1999 meeting), Société des Africanistes, African Language Teachers Association, West African Research Association, Mandé Studies Association, Saharan Studies Association, American Folklore Society.


National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, 1991-92.


(Editor) The Teaching of African Literature, University of Texas Press & African Literature Association (Austin, TX), 1977, 2nd edition, Three Continents Press (Washington, DC), 1989.

Les Ecrits d'Aimé Césaire: bibliographie commentée, Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal & Etudes françaises (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1978.

(Editor, with Richard K. Priebe) Artist and Audience: African Literature as a Shared Experience: Selected Proceedings from the 1977 African Literature Association Meeting, Three Continents Press (Washington, DC), 1979.

Scribe, Griot, and Novelist: Narrative Interpreters of the Songhay Empire, followed by The Epic of Askia Mohammed as recounted by Nouhou Malio (also see below), University of Florida Press: Center for African Studies (Gainesville, FL), 1990.

(Recorder, translator, and editor) The Epic of Askia Mohammed, recounted by Nouhou Malio, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1996.

(Editor, with William Johnson and Stephen Belcher) Oral Epics from Africa: Vibrant Voices from a Vast Continent, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1997.

Griots and Griottes: Masters of Words and Music, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1998.

Also writer and producer of the video Griottes of the Sahel: Female Keepers of the Oral Tradition in Niger, edited and directed by Marie Hornbein, Center for Instructional Design and Interactive Technologies, Pennsylvania State University. Has served on numerous editorial boards, including HarperCollins World Reader, Volume 1: Antiquity to the Early Modern World, HarperCollins (New York, NY) 1994, and the journal Humanities-African Literature & Cinema, 1995. Also served as coeditor of African Literature Association Newsletter, 1974-78; coeditor of Universitééde Dakar, Cahiers césairiens, 1974-1980; head, African Section, Modern Language Association International Bibliography, 1984-2001; assistant editor for francophone area, French Review, 1985—; and associate editor of Comparative Literature Studies, 1986—.


Thomas A. Hale is an expert in African literature whose research focuses on La Francophonie (an international organization of French-speaking countries and governments as well as the French-speaking community), Africa, griots and griottes (West African poets, praise singers, and wandering musicians), the African-American tradition, and women's songs from West Africa. For example, Hale's book Les Ecrits d'Aimé Césaire: bibliographie commentée, a bibliography of Martinican writer Aimé Césaire, is a common research tool used for early studies of the writer. F.I. Case, writing in the University of Toronto Quarterly, called the book "a landmark in Césaire studies and will remain so for a very long time."

In his book Scribe, Griot, and Novelist: Narrative Interpreters of the Songhay Empire, the author compares the oral and written accounts of Songhay history. Ethnohistory contributor Paul Stoller called the book "a significant scholarly achievement, for many cultural gems can be mined from this rich source."

Hale is the editor with, William Johnson and Stephen Belcher, of Oral Epics from Africa: Vibrant Voices from a Vast Continent. The book is a compilation of excerpts from African epics from a variety of African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), Cameroon, Guinea, Gamibia, Mali, Niger, and Senegal. Although the book focuses on the oral tradition of epic storytelling, the text focuses on this tradition as it has been recorded and transcribed. As a result, the editors provide a description of the text that reflects the oral tradition in terms of such factors as additional musical performance, tempo, and pacing. Commenting on the book in the Journal of Asian and African Studies, Laura Arnston wrote: "The immediacy of the genre in its actual realization is conveyed well in the excerpts from epic performances recorded in Mali and Guinea, where the exclamations, repetitions, and use of dialogue that are part of a bard's repertoire are faithfully transcribed."



Ethnohistory, fall, 1991, Paul Stoller, review of Scribe, Griot, and Novelist: Narrative Interpreters of the Songhay Empire, p. 484.

Journal of Asian and African Studies, August, 2000, Laura Arnston, review of Oral Epics from Africa: Vibrant Voices from a Vast Continent, p. 351.

University of Toronto Quarterly, winter, 1980, F.I. Case, review of Les Ecrits d'Aimé Césaire: bibliographie commentée, p. 251.


Pennsylvania State University Department of Comparative Literature Web site,http://complit.la.psu.edu/ (March 19, 2007), faculty profile of author and author's curriculum vitae.

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