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Thomas A. Hale

Thomas A. Hale

Edwin Erle Sparks Professor Emeritus of African, French, and Comparative Literature



Prof. Hale served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Niger from 1964 to 1966, an experience that prompted him to study Afro-Caribbean and African literature.  In 1975, he was one of the founders of the African Literature Association. After focusing his research on the writings of the Afro-Caribbean author and political leader Aimé Césaire in the 1970s, he turned to the oral literature of the Sahel region.  There he recorded epics and interviewed griots for a book on these multi-functional bards.  In the last decade, he and former student Aissata Sidikou conducted research on women’s songs from West Africa.

The Fulbright program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the U. S. Department of Education, and the United States Information Agency awarded him grants for research, teaching, and the development of linkages with African universities. In 1995, he was the inaugural recipient of the W. LaMarr Kopp International Achievement Award "for significant contributions and accomplishments in advancing the international mission of the University.” From 2001 to 2008 he served as head of the Department of French and Francophone Studies.  



Women’s Songs from West Africa. Co-edited with Aissata G. Sidikou. Bloomington: Indiana  University Press, 2014.



Les Ecrits d’Aimé Césaire. Biobibliographie commentée (1913-2008). Co-authored with Kora Véron. Paris: Champion, 2013. Two volumes, 891 pages.


Women’s Voices from West Africa: An Anthology of Songs from the Sahel.  Co-edited with Aissata G. Sidikou. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012. 341 pages.


Griots and Griottes: Masters of Words and Music. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1998. 412 pages.


Oral Epics from Africa: Vibrant Voices from a Vast Continent. Co-edited with John William Johnson, Indiana University, and Stephen Belcher, Penn State.   Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997. 331 pages.


The Epic of Askia Mohammed.  Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996. 90 pages.


Scribe, Griot, and Novelist: Narrative Interpreters of the  Songhay Empire.  Followed by The Epic of Askia Mohammed Recounted by Nouhou Malio.  Gainesville: The University of Florida Press and Center for African Studies, 1990. 313 pages.


Artist and Audience: African Literature as a Shared Experience.  Co-edited with Richard K. Priebe. Three Continents Press & African Literature Association, 1979. 203 pages. 


Les Ecrits d'Aimé Césaire: bibliographie commentée.  Montréal: Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal & Etudes françaises, vol.14, nos. 3-4, 1978. 308 pages.


The Teaching of African Literature. Co-edited with Richard K. Priebe. Austin: University of Texas Press & African Literature Association, 1977. 319 pages.



  • African literature
  • Oral tradition
  • Francophonie