Ernest Gibson, Thurgood Marshall Fellow

On June 15, 2012 by Grad Forum

Ernest Gibson is the current Marshall Fellow, under the guidance of Antonio Tillis in the African and African American Studies Department and recently received his PhD from the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Right now he is wrapping up his fellowship at Dartmouth, and preparing for a tenure-track position as a Professor of English at Rhodes College.

He decided to apply for the fellowship because, in his words, “ it’s one of the most prestigious dissertation fellowships in the country for African American Studies.” Dartmouth is perfect for Ernest, for reasons other than it’s academic prestige and reputation though; location also played a part in Ernest’s decision to apply, since Dartmouth is close to his home institution, and MacDowell in Peterborough—the colony where James Baldwin, the author on whom Ernest’s dissertation focuses, studied. The close proximity to his muse’s artistic refuge facilitates a certain personal insight or inspiration that can be traced within his dissertation.

“The space here really encourages scholarly productivity for me, in a way that no other campus could,” says Ernest.

His dissertation, titled “In Search of the Fraternal: Salvific Manhood and Male Intimacy in the Novels of James Baldwin”, examines male intimacy and vulnerability, and traces Baldwin’s preoccupation with loneliness as it is imprinted onto his male characters. Ernest’s chapters address the role of intimacy in a variety of male relationships, ranging from the platonic to the homoerotic/homosexual. It also deals with black male suicide as the result of a lack of intimacy.

Asked if he’d found a supportive cultural community at Dartmouth, Ernest responded that he’d met many people whom he could relate to, and that people affiliated with the African and African-American Studies program, under the guidance of Antonio Tillis, had been particularly supportive. He also mentioned MOCA (the Men of Color Alliance), saying “MOCA has been extremely helpful with aiding my research, and also carving out a space for cultural community for students and faculty of color.” Much like the other students interviewed about their fellowships, Ernest cites “the fellows” (as they jokingly call themselves), as a “tight knit community both academically and socially, and, a wonderful respite and refuge.”

With his smart sartorial sense—you can see in the photo that Ernest has a penchant for colors and bow ties—and his impeccably organized office, it’s clear that Ernest has a flair for presentation, while taking himself and his work seriously. Asked about his sense of style, specifically about the bow tie, he responded, “I’m inspired by W.E.B Du Bois, that titan of erudition who rocked bow ties and top-hats, and who is, for me at least, a quintessential representation of intellectual dandyism.”

Congrats on your new position, Ernest, the graduate office wishes you the best of luck!

by Tennile Sunday
photo by Tennile Sunday


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