Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka to Speak at Claremont Graduate University on January 17

The Institute for Signifying Scriptures Welcomes 1986 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature.

Claremont, CA, January 09, 2007 --( CGU’s Institute for Signifying Scriptures will welcome 1986 Nobel Laureate in Literature Wole Soyinka to campus at 5:30 p.m. on January 17. Soyinka’s address, “Deities for a Secular Dispensation,” will inaugurate the ISS Distinguished Speaker series. The event is free and open to the public and will be held at Garrison Theater in Claremont (231 E. Tenth St.).

A modern-day renaissance man, Soyinka is a secular humanist playwright, novelist and essayist. In an interview (New York Times, April 30, 2005), he remarked that the 21st century’s defining problem would be religion. Soyinka elaborates that, “it is not so much religion itself but what religion has turned into, the use to which religion is being put, which is a highly political, sectarian one.

“Even if one were not a convinced humanist—despite being a compulsive mythologist—the crisis ridden condition of the world today compels us to seek out remedial possibilities through belief systems that are not compromised by the territorial ambitions and ingrained intolerance of the so-called world religions,” Soyinka said.

Born in in 1934, Soyinka was raised Anglican but was also strongly influenced by traditional Yoruba mythologies and practices, which figure largely in many of his plays.  He has been a lifelong political activist in opposition to tyrannical regimes both in his own native and throughout the world. Soyinka is the first African to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

According to Vincent L. Wimbush, CGU professor of religion and ISS director, Soyinka’s address is timely and significant.

“He is a generous, utterly fascinating, courageous, and thoughtful human being. We are fortunate that he has agreed to address us. The ISS models and advances the kinds of work in religion, society, and culture that epitomizes Soyinka's socio-politically-engaged, self-reflexive sensibilities about, and orientation to religion.”

The ISS is a center for trans-disciplinary research on “scriptures” and what effects they have/had in society and culture. As part of the School of Religion at the research university, the ISS focuses upon the ways in which scriptural traditions are made both to shape and secure as well as to undermine identities, positions, agency, and power in the world.

Claremont Graduate University is the nation’s only all-graduate institution with a rich history of innovative research and teaching. CGU encourages students to follow a broad intellectual path and to explore a dynamic synthesis of ideas through transdisciplinary research and personalized programs.

Claremont Graduate University
Nikolaos Johnson