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UK's 21st Breathitt Lecture Focuses on African American Story as Depicted in Literature

by: Whitney Hale

(Jan. 22, 2015) — Nathan Moore, a University of Kentucky English senior from Louisville, Kentucky, has been selected to present the 21st annual Edward T. Breathitt Undergraduate Lectureship in the Humanities at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, in the UK Athletics Auditorium at William T. Young Library. Moore's free public lecture focuses on intersections of African American literature, history and cultural memory.

The Breathitt Lectureship was named for an outstanding UK alumnus who showed an exceptional interest in higher education and the humanities, Gov. Edward T. Breathitt. The lectureship is awarded to an undergraduate who has eloquently expressed the qualities of mind and spirit, including one or more of the basic concerns of the humanities: form, value and memory. Each year all undergraduate students are invited to apply for the lectureship.

Moore's lecture, "Subjugation and the Supernatural: The Ethnogothic in African American Letters," will explore slave narratives. Moore will discuss how former slaves used conventions of Gothic fiction to expose the brutality of their enslavement. Through discussions of genre, he will examine how this traumatic history is left silent in many contemporary discussions of race and class. A public reception will follow the talk. 

The "Subjugation and the Supernatural" lecture and undergraduate research on the topic by Moore started as a class assignment at UK. "This lecture is actually part of ongoing research project I have been conducting work on since sophomore year. Originally, this work began as a midterm paper for a Major Black Writers course."

The Breathitt Lectureship is presented by the Gaines Center for the Humanities, part of part of the Academy of Undergraduate Excellence within the UK Division of Undergraduate Education. As part of the lectureship, a student is given the opportunity to write and deliver a humanities-oriented public lecture on the topic of their choosing. The student speaker is chosen through an application process that includes a lecture proposal submitted by the student to an independent committee of readers.

 In recognition of his selection to deliver the Breathitt Lectureship, Moore also will receive a commemorative award and a $500 honorarium.

Moore is excited to share his work through the Breathitt Lectureship. "It sounded like an amazing opportunity to share my research interest with a larger group outside of the departments that I usually work with here at UK," Moore said. "It seemed beneficial to share my research and have a chance to get feedback in a semi-professional venue. I also feel really passionate about my project and thought it would be a nice way to leave the University of Kentucky by sharing my work with my peers in the larger campus community."

Nathan MooreThe son of Denise Moore, of Louisville, the Breathitt Lecturer is also pursuing a minor African American and Africana studies, as well as his major of English. In addition, Moore is finishing a certificate in creative writing. His excellence in the classroom previously garnered him one of only 10 fellowships to the Schomburg-Mellon Humanities Summer Institute, presented by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to encourage minority students and others with an interest in African-American, African and African diasporan studies to pursue graduate degrees in the humanities.  

The world of literature is a passion for Moore. "As clichéd as this may sound, I chose to study English because I love to write and read. I chose to work with the Department of African American and Africana Studies because I read 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' by Zora Neale Hurston and it changed my life. I never knew I could study my own history as a Black person and I just felt I had to declare a minor."

To hear a podcast about Moore's experience as a Schomburg-Mellon Humanities Summer Institute Fellow, visit

Outside of the classroom, Moore has worked with UK Libraries as one of their first Diversity Scholar Interns and he has also done a few radio broadcasts with WUKY's "UK Perspectives"interview series. He also previously interned with the Limestone Journal.

Upon completion of his undergraduate degree this May, Moore plans to pursue graduate studies in African American literature and history, as well as creative writing. He plans to pursue a career as a professor and creative writer.