30 Apr & 1 May: Caleb Smith–Lecture and Seminar

Hi all,

Please join us at the end of this month for a lecture and seminar presented by Caleb Smith, professor of English and American Studies at Yale University. The lecture will take place on Wednesday, April 30th at 6:30PM in rooms C201/202 at the CUNY Graduate Center. The seminar will be held the following day, Thursday May 1st in room 3309. There are several readings attached to the seminar, which you can access in this post below. Here is further information on both events. Hope to see you then!

Words of Fire 

The Incendiary Text and the Curse of Slavery

Caleb Smith

Professor of English and American Studies, Yale University

Wednesday, 30 April, 6:30PM

Room c201/c202

With the rise of radical abolitionism, and in the wake of the Southampton slave rebellion, the idea of the “incendiary” text began to preoccupy the nineteenth-century public sphere. This lecture explores the history of moral protest behind the fantasy that printed documents, including literary texts, could light the fires of insurrection. Drawn from my book, The Oracle and the Curse, the lecture shows how religion and print contributed to the making of the militant black Atlantic.

Please also join us for a seminar with Dr. Smith:

 A Living Tomb

Thursday, 1 May, Room 3309

 The seminar will revisit the origins of the U.S. penitentiary system and some early examples of prison literature, asking how the prison came to be imagined both as an instrument of disciplinary subject-formation and as a scene of dehumanizing abjection.

Caleb Smith is professor of English and American Studies at Yale University and the author of The Oracle and the Curse (2013) and The Prison and the American Imagination (2009). He is working on an edition of “The Life and Adventures of a Haunted Convict,” an 1858 narrative by Austin Reed, an African American inmate of New York’s Auburn State Prison, which will be published by Random House in 2016. His writing on contemporary media and the arts appears in BombThe Los Angeles Review of Books, Paper Monument, Yale Review, and Avidly.

Caleb Smith–from The Prison and the American Imagination

Dayan, Joan–Legal Slaves and Civil Bodies

Foucault, from Discipline and Punish

Smith, Caleb–Harry Hawser’s Fate [Optional]

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RevAmStudies Spring 2014 Calendar

Dear Everyone:

RevAmStudies for the coming months is shaping up!  We hope we’ll see you at some of the events we’re programming, an overview of which is sketched below.
Best,
Duncan & Kandice

REVAMSTUDIES Calendar, Spring 2014

MARCH
> Thursday, 6 March, Segal Theatre, 2-3:30p, seminar on academic freedom (please see http://revolutionizingamericanstudies.commons.gc.cuny.edu/seminar-on-academic-freedom-6-march-2014/ for information and readings).

APRIL
> Thursday, 3 April, Room 3309, 12-2p, Publication Workshop, work by Timothy Griffith and Melissa Phruksachart

> Monday, 28 April, Skylight Room, 4p, Alexandra Vazquez lecture, “Listening to it All At Once”

> Wednesday, 30 April, Room c201/c202, 6:30p, Caleb Smith lecture, “The Oracle and the Curse”

MAY
> Thursday, 1 May, Room 3309, seminar with Caleb Smith (readings TBA)

> Monday, 5 May, Room 3309, 12-2p, Publication Workshop, work by Danica Savonick and Dominique Zino

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ACADEMIC FREEDOM WITH VIOLENCE, by Roderick A. Ferguson and Jodi Melamed

This essay was jointly written as a response to the attacks on the ASA under the banner of “academic freedom” — per the authors, please feel free to share widely:  academic freedom with violence

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what’s coming in revamstudies, spring 2014 and forward!

Dear everyone:

We hope 2014 has gotten off to a good start for you.  We wanted to touch base with you all regarding the kind of planning we’re doing for RevAmStudies for spring 2014 and forward, and look forward to seeing you in the coming months at the various events.  We begin as always by expressing our gratitude to the Advanced Research Collaborative and its director Don Robotham and the fantastic Alida Rojas, and the offices of the Graduate Center Interim President Chase Robinson, Interim Provost Louise Lennihan, and that of the CUNY Interim Chancellor Bill Kelly for their continuing support of our activities; and we’re enormously pleased to continue to work collaboratively with the Center for the Humanities, IRADAC, the Caribbean Epistemologies seminar, the Mellon Committee on Globalization and Social Change, and the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, as well as with all of you!

As we have in the past, we’ll be bringing in Americanist scholar-teachers to present a lecture and engage with us in a smaller seminar setting; we’re still working out the details around these visits, but wanted to note now that they will continue in some way RevAmStudies’ focus this year on black diasporic studies, informed in particular by Paul Gilroy’s enormously influential book, The Black Atlantic.  We’ll announce specific details shortly; as a reminder, the revamstudies blog (http://revolutionizingamericanstudies.commons.gc.cuny.edu/) remains the best source for the most updated information.  You can also find through that site links to events of interest for revamstudies communities.

We’re also establishing a working papers/publication workshop, specifically geared toward encouraging graduate students to prepare their research for submission for publication consideration to scholarly journals appropriate to their work and fields of engagement.  The call for that workshop series will go out as a separate email shortly.  (We thought that having it as a separate item might be helpful for circulation purposes, and also might make it less possible that that information get lost in the muddle of a long email; apologies in advance for the influx to your inboxes.)

We’re working as well to formulate an event (or multiple events) that would allow us to address the issue of academic freedom, which, as you’ve undoubtedly seen, has become a loudly visible aspect of American studies conversations presently.  We hope to organize a program that will serve as an occasion to think through the histories and meaningfulness of academic freedom, to facilitate discussion that might enable us to attend to the genealogies of state power and its relationship to university life in the broad frame of the emergence of modernity, as well as in its local iterations.

Not unrelatedly, we’ll also be collaborating with others to address the conditions of work for minoriized scholar-teachers in line with the kind of work that Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, Yolanda Flores Niemann, Carmen G. González, Angela P. Harris undertake in their edited volume, Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in the Academy.  (This and the academic freedom centered programming is likely to take place in AY2014-15.)

That’s about it for now, except to offer our very best wishes to you for the new year — more to follow….!
Kandice & Duncan

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RevAmStudies in April — featuring Fred Moten!

Dear Everyone:

We hope this finds you all enjoying the turn toward spring.  Elizabeth Maddock Dillon’s visit in March was terrific, and we’re grateful to her for catalyzing a thoroughly engaging day of discussions, and Khalil Gibran Muhammad, who made the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture such an inviting space for us.  We remain, of course, grateful to all of those who make RevAmStudies possible — President William Kelly and Sandy Robinson and Kathleen Stolarski in particular in his office; the Advanced Research Collaborative and especially Alida Rojas; the Center for the Humanities; and Chris Eng and Cambridge Ridley-Lynch, our collaborators on this initiative.

We’re excited to be looking forward to several events in April, including FRED MOTEN’s visit on Friday, 12 APRIL.  The Helen L. Bevington Professor of Modern Poetry at Duke University, Fred Moten works in black studies at the intersection of performance, poetry and critical theory. He is author of numerous books and articles including Arkansas (Pressed Wafer Press, 2000), Poems (with Jim Behrle) (Pressed Wafer Press, 2002), In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (University of Minnesota Press, 2003), I ran from it but was still in it. (Cusp Books, 2007), Hughson’s Tavern (Leon Works, 2008) and B Jenkins (Duke University Press, 2010).

PLEASE NOTE THE TIME CHANGE FOR THE SEMINAR, which will be held from 12:00-1:00 instead of our usual time slot, but in our usual space (room 8201.01).  We will be discussing “The Touring Machine,” by Fred Moten; also, interview with Edouard Glissant (in conversation with Manthia Diawara); “Will Sovereignty Ever Be Deconstructed?” by Catherine Malabou;  “New Spheres of Transnational Formations,” by Kamari Clarke; “Black in Time,” by Michelle Wright; “Response by Author,” by Kamari Clarke.  (the readings are available on our Academic Commons group site; if you’re not a member of the Academic Commons, please feel free to drop a note to either of us for a copy of the readings.)

Professor Moten’s lecture, at 4pm in room  8201.01, is titled “Notes on Passage: Anepistemology, Paraontology, Insovereignty.”  In this talk, Fred Moten considers what the thought, or the mode of study, of the refugee might be able to teach us about life beyond or over the edge of personal/political sovereignty. More specifically, this lecture addresses his interest in what a kind of stateless thinking, a thinking that remains in (middle) passage, still has to offer Afro-diasporic studies and, more broadly, the study of modernity in the Atlantic World.

Professor Moten’s visit caps a week that will begin with THE UNIVERSITY BEYOND CRISIS, a symposium we are cosponsoring on Monday, 8 April, from 11a-6p in the Skylight Room (9th floor), which is designed to occasion collaborative critical discussion that thinks beyond the rhetoric of crisis to ask, what is, or what ought to be, the relationship of the university to the common good?  How might we envision and work toward the realization of a university that addresses that relationship and in the process, address the idea of the “common good”?  What alternatives to defensive postures might be elaborated toward these ends?  And, what other ends might we elaborate?  Please see http://revolutionizingamericanstudies.commons.gc.cuny.edu/the-university-beyond-crisis-monday-8-april-2013/ for more information.

We want also to make note of yet another event we are cosponsoring that week, a roundtable discussion organized around Roderick A. Ferguson’s (a RevAmStudies alum!) Reorder of Things: The Universities and Its Pedagogies of Minority Difference.  This event will be held in the Performance Studies space at NYU (721 Broadway, Room 612) on Tuesday, 9 April, at 3:30p.  The roundtable features our own Patricia Clough, along with Tavia Nyong’o (NYU) and Laura Kang (UC Irvine).  There will be a reception and book signing to follow (a limited number of copies will be available for sale at the rate of $15 each).  Information about this event will circulate separately.

As always, all of our events are free and open to the public.

This will be a fabulous week for RevAmStudies — do come join us if you can!

Happy spring wishes to you all –
best,
Kandice & Duncan

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Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, 8 March 2013!

Dear All:

Hope this finds you very well. We’re looking forward to a day in conversation with Elizabeth Maddock Dillon — please join us! Friday, 8 March, 12:30-2:00p seminar in room 8201.01 and a lecture at 4p, details about all below. Hope to see many of you next week!

For the seminar, please read the following, which are uploaded as files to the Academic Commons RevAmStudies group; please drop an email to either Duncan or Kandice if you have trouble accessing those files:

”John Marrant Blows the French Horn,” from the collection Early African American Print Culture in Theory and Practice, ed. Lara Cohen and Jordan Stein (UPenn, 2012);
”Coloniality, Performance, Translation,” soon to appear in the forthcoming collection Transatlantic Traffic and (Mis)Translations, ed. Robin Peel and Daniel Maudlin (UPNE, 2013); and,
”Obi, Assemblage, Enchantment,” soon to appear in the inaugural issue of the journal J-19 in a roundtable on ”enchanted criticism” that Nancy Bentley organized.

The title of the 4pm lecture is: ”Pre-Occupation and the Performative Commons.”

This talk considers the long history of commoning as a mode of both occupying land—living in common—and achieving political representation as a people or political ”commons.” Tracing a link between the enclosure of the commons in 16th-18th century England and the seizure of land from Native peoples in the Americas, the paper explores the history of the expropriation of common land from the people, and subsequent efforts to rematerialize the political force of the common people in acts of performance. Turning to theatrical performance, the paper considers the aesthetics of commoning in plays such as John Gay’s ”The Beggar’s Opera” and concludes with discussion of the contemporary Occupy Movement as a performative commons.

Elizabeth Maddock Dillon is Professor of English at Northeastern University where she teaches courses in the fields of early American literature, transatlantic print culture, and Atlantic theatre and performance. At Northeastern, she is also the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. She is the author of The Gender of Freedom: Fictions of Liberalism and the Literary Public Sphere (Stanford University Press, 2004) which won the Heyman Prize for Outstanding Publication in the Humanities at Yale University. She has published widely in journals on topics from aesthetics, to the novel in the early Atlantic world, to Barbary pirates. She is the Co-Director of the Futures of American Studies Institute at Dartmouth College and the former the chair of the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Association. She currently serves on the editorial boards of Early American Literature and PMLA. Her new book, New World Drama: Performative Commons and the Atlantic Public Sphere, 1649-1849, is forthcoming from Duke University Press and she is co-editing, with Michael Drexler, a volume of essays on early American culture and the Haitian Revolution.

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Matthew Frye Jacobson, next Friday! (8 February)

Dear Everyone:

Welcome to February 2013! We have a great semester coming up in RevAmStudies, one that started with yesterday’s lecture by Christopher Looby, and that continues next week with Matthew Frye Jacobson’s visit — please join us on Friday, 8 February! We will also look forward to seeing many of you at events we are cosponsoring on 14, 19 and 22 February. Please see below for further details on all of these events. The schedule for the remainder of the semester’s programming is also below, fyi. All events are free and open to the public.

As always, feel free to holler with queries or whatnot.

And as always, we gratefully acknowledge Graduate Center President William Kelly’s support as well as that of his office; the Advanced Research Collaborative, and the Center for the Humanities.

All best,
Kandice & Duncan
———————–
8 FEBRUARY:

William Robertson Coe Professor of American Studies & History at Yale University, Matthew Frye Jacobson is the current president of the American Studies Association. He is the author of numerous books including What Have They Built You to Do?: The Manchurian Candidate and Cold War America (with Gaspar Gonzalex, 2006); Roots Too: White Ethnic Revival in Post-Civil Rights America (2005); Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876-1917 (2000); Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (1998); and Special Sorrows: The Diasporic Imagination of Irish, Polish, and Jewish Immigrants in the United States (1995). His teaching interests are clustered under the general category of race in U.S. political culture 1790-present, including U.S. imperialism, immigration and migration, popular culture, and the juridical structures of U.S. citizenship.

The seminar will be from 12:30-2 in room 8201.01 (the president’s conference room). We will discuss “Where we Stand: US Empire at Street-Level and in the Archive,” Professor Jacobson’s Presidential Address to American Studies Association Annual Meeting, as well as the presidential addresses by past ASA presidents Amy Kaplan, Janice Radway, and Mary Helen Washington.  Cambridge Ridley Lynch, one of our RevAmStudies collaborators, will act as the discussant for this session.

At 4p in the same room, Professor Jacobson will be offering a lecture titled “The Historian’s Eye: Interpreting the ‘Post’ of ‘Post-Civil Rights’ in Obama’s America.” Historian’s Eye (www.historianseye.org) is a multimedia documentary project devoted to the peculiar compound of hope and despair that makes up the current political and social climate in Obama’s America. Beginning as a modest effort to capture in photographs and interviews the historic moment of our first black president’s inauguration in early 2009, the project has evolved into an expansive archive of some 4000+ photographs and an audio archive that would fill nearly two days of non-stop listening. Materials collected from across the country address the Obama presidency, the ’08 economic collapse and its fallout, two wars, the raucous politics of healthcare reform, the emergence of a new right-wing formation in opposition to Obama, the politics of immigration, Wall Street reform, street protests of every stripe, the BP oil spill, the Occupy movement, natural disasters in the south and northeast, and the controversy over a proposed Muslim community center in lower Manhattan and the escalation of anti-Muslim sentiment nationwide. The project seeks to trace out the fate of “our better history,” in Obama’s own phrase, in affecting and telling photographs and in the recorded voices of ordinary people, as the nation faces unprecedented challenges with a president at the helm who is inspirational to some, fully unnerving to others.

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14 FEBRUARY — WEB DuBois, Slavery, and the Atlantic Imaginary (we happily co-sponsor this Center for the Humanities, Difference & the Humanities event)

Join professors Eric Lott, Jennifer Morgan, and Jeffrey Ferguson at 3p in the Skylight Room (9100) as they assess the impact of W.E.B. Du Bois’s work—including his seminal texts The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the U.S., 1638–1870 and Black Reconstruction—on the development of American studies, African American studies, and Atlantic studies. The panel will be followed by a roundtable discussion in which participants will explore “The General Strike,“ a chapter from Dubois’s Black Reconstruction. Please see http://centerforthehumanities.org/events/W-E-B-Du-Bois-Slavery-and-the-Atlantic-Imaginary for more information.

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19 FEBRUARY: (we happily co-sponsor this Center for Place, Culture & Politics event)

At 6:30p, Professor Moon-ho Jung will present a talk titled “Subversive Histories: Race, National Security, and Empire Across the Pacific.” This lecture will critique standard narratives of Asian American and U.S. history that tend to treat Asian Americans as “immigrants” deserving or striving for inclusion (citizenship) in the U.S. nation-state. By exploring how Asians came to be racialized and radicalized subjects of the U.S. empire before World War II, it will seek to reframe our notions of movements across the Pacific. In particular, the talk will trace the historical origins of the national security state, the heart and soul of the U.S. empire, to a series of U.S. “foreign” and “domestic” policies targeting Asians on both sides of the Pacific.

Moon-Ho Jung is Associate Professor and the Walker Family Endowed Professor of History at the University of Washington. He is the author of Coolies and Cane: Race, Labor, and Sugar in the Age of Emancipation (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), which received the Merle Curti Award from the Organization of American Historians and the History Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies.

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22 FEBRUARY: (we happily co-sponsor this PhD Program in English, Friday Forum event)

Ivy Wilson, of Northwestern University, will be presenting a lecture titled “Hieroglyphs of the African Diaspora: Black Popular Culture and Nonce Transnationalism,” at 4p in Room 4406 (the English program lounge). While important strands of black diaspora theory privilege notions of translation or syncretism as an effort to locate the analogous points of convergence to correlate disparate experiences, this talk examines key moments in black cultural production where the correlative link between the U.S. and Africa can only be rendered legible through what might be called an associative ambience. More specifically, by tracing the traffic of Egyptian iconography from Frederick Douglass (in the nineteenth century) to Erykah Badu (in the early twentieth-first century), this talk seeks to limn the meanings of an ambient subjectivity as a form of a black transnational identification.

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8 MARCH:

Elizabeth Maddock Dillon is Professor of English at Northeastern University where she teaches courses in the fields of early American literature, transatlantic print culture, and Atlantic theatre and performance. At Northeastern, she is also the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. She is the author of The Gender of Freedom: Fictions of Liberalism and the Literary Public Sphere (Stanford University Press, 2004) which won the Heyman Prize for Outstanding Publication in the Humanities at Yale University. She has published widely in journals on topics from aesthetics, to the novel in the early Atlantic world, to Barbary pirates. She is the Co-Director of the Futures of American Studies Institute at Dartmouth College and the former the chair of the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Association. She currently serves on the editorial boards of Early American Literature and PMLA. Her new book, New World Drama: Performative Commons and the Atlantic Public Sphere, 1649-1849, is forthcoming from Duke University Press and she is co-editing, with Michael Drexler, a volume of essays on early American culture and the Haitian Revolution.

seminar, 12:30-2, 8201.01: “John Marrant Blows the French Horn,” from the collection Early African American Print Culture in Theory and Practice, ed. Lara Cohen and Jordan Stein (UPenn, 2012);
“Coloniality, Performance, Translation,” soon to appear in the forthcoming collection Transatlantic Traffic and (Mis)Translations, ed. Robin Peel and Daniel Maudlin (UPNE, 2013);
“Obi, Assemblage, Enchantment,” soon to appear in the inaugural issue of the journal J-19 in a roundtable on “enchanted criticism” that Nancy Bentley organized.

lecture, 4-6, 8201.01: “Pre-Occupation and the Performative Commons.”

This talk considers the long history of commoning as a mode of both occupying land—living in common—and achieving political representation as a people or political “commons.” Tracing a link between the enclosure of the commons in 16th-18th century England and the seizure of land from Native peoples in the Americas, the paper explores the history of the expropriation of common land from the people, and subsequent efforts to rematerialize the political force of the common people in acts of performance. Turning to theatrical performance, the paper considers the aesthetics of commoning in plays such as John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera” and concludes with discussion of the contemporary Occupy Movement as a performative commons.

————————————-

8 April: The University Beyond Crisis, a daylong symposium featuring Tita Chico, Roderick Ferguson, Laura Hyun Yi Kang, and Siobhan Somerville among others — details TBA.

————————————-

12 APRIL:

The Helen L. Bevington Professor of Modern Poetry at Duke University, Fred Moten works in black studies at the intersection of performance, poetry and critical theory. He is author of numerous books and articles including Arkansas (Pressed Wafer Press, 2000), Poems (with Jim Behrle) (Pressed Wafer Press, 2002), In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (University of Minnesota Press, 2003), I ran from it but was still in it. (Cusp Books, 2007), Hughson’s Tavern (Leon Works, 2008) and B Jenkins (Duke University Press, 2010).

seminar, 12:30-2, 8201.01: “The Touring Machine,” by Fred Moten; also, interview with Edouard Glissant (in conversation with Manthia Diawara); “Will Sovereignty Ever Be Deconstructed?” by Catherine Malabou; “New Spheres of Transnational Formations,” by Kamari Clarke; “Black in Time,” by Michelle Wright; “Response by Author,” by Kamari Clarke.

lecture, 4-6, 8201.01: “Notes on Passage: Anepistemology, Paraontology, Insovereignty”

In this talk, Fred Moten considers what the thought, or the mode of study, of the refugee might be able to teach us about life beyond or over the edge of personal/political sovereignty. More specifically, this lecture addresses his interest in what a kind of stateless thinking, a thinking that remains in (middle) passage, still has to offer Afro-diasporic studies and, more broadly, the study of modernity in the Atlantic World.

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RevAmStudies spring 2013!

We have a fabulous spring line up of visitors, seminars, events, etc. — take a look! Come join us! (All events are free and open to the public; details etc. will be posted as each event draws near. Thank you, GC President William Kelly; the Advanced Research Collaborative; and the Center for the Humanities!)

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30 January, Christopher Looby

lecture, 4:00-6:00 PM, Room 8201.01

Christopher Looby, Professor of English and Director, Americanist Research Colloquium, UCLA

The Literariness of Sexuality: or, How to Do the (Literary) History of (American) Sexuality

Historians of sexuality rely heavily on literary evidence. Why should this be so? My argument is that sexuality is essentially a literary phenomenon. Following La Rochefoucauld’s maxim that “people would never have fallen in love if they had never heard of love” I contend that people would never have had sexualities if novelists and other hadn’t invented them. My evidence is drawn from American novels of the long nineteenth century, chiefly from Charles Brockden Brown’s 1799-1800 Memoirs of Stephen Calvert (in which the protagonist declares that reading a certain book made him what he is, “a thing of mere sex”) and from Charles Warren Stoddard’s 1903 For the Pleasure of His Company: A Tale of the Misty City, Thrice Told, which self-reflexively aligns literary innovation and sexual self-invention in multiple ways.

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8 February — Matthew Frye Jacobson

William Robertson Coe Professor of American Studies & History at Yale University, Matthew Frye Jacobson is the current president of the American Studies Association. He is the author of numerous books including What Have They Built You to Do?: The Manchurian Candidate and Cold War America (with Gaspar Gonzalex, 2006); Roots Too: White Ethnic Revival in Post-Civil Rights America (2005); Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876-1917 (2000); Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (1998); and Special Sorrows: The Diasporic Imagination of Irish, Polish, and Jewish Immigrants in the United States (1995). His teaching interests are clustered under the general category of race in U.S. political culture 1790-present, including U.S. imperialism, immigration and migration, popular culture, and the juridical structures of U.S. citizenship.

Seminar, 12:30-2, 8201.01: “Where we Stand: US Empire at Street-Level and in the Archive,” Matthew Frye Jacobson Presidential Address to American Studies Association Annual Meeting; also, presidential addresses by Amy Kaplan, Janice Radway, and Mary Helen Washington.

Lecture, 4-6, 8201.01: “The Historian’s Eye: Interpreting the ‘Post’ of ‘Post-Civil Rights’ in Obama’s America.”

Historian’s Eye (www.historianseye.org

) is a multimedia documentary project devoted to the peculiar compound of hope and despair that makes up the current political and social climate in Obama’s America. Beginning as a modest effort to capture in photographs and interviews the historic moment of our first black president’s inauguration in early 2009, the project has evolved into an expansive archive of some 4000+ photographs and an audio archive that would fill nearly two days of non-stop listening. Materials collected from across the country address the Obama presidency, the ’08 economic collapse and its fallout, two wars, the raucous politics of healthcare reform, the emergence of a new right-wing formation in opposition to Obama, the politics of immigration, Wall Street reform, street protests of every stripe, the BP oil spill, the Occupy movement, natural disasters in the south and northeast, and the controversy over a proposed Muslim community center in lower Manhattan and the escalation of anti-Muslim sentiment nationwide. The project seeks to trace out the fate of “our better history,” in Obama’s own phrase, in affecting and telling photographs and in the recorded voices of ordinary people, as the nation faces unprecedented challenges with a president at the helm who is inspirational to some, fully unnerving to others.

——————————

14 February — DuBois event (co-sponsor, details TBA)

19 February — Moon Ho Jung (co-sponsor, details TBA)

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8 March — Elizabeth Maddock Dillon

Elizabeth Maddock Dillon is Professor of English at Northeastern University where she teaches courses in the fields of early American literature, transatlantic print culture, and Atlantic theatre and performance. At Northeastern, she is also the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. She is the author of The Gender of Freedom: Fictions of Liberalism and the Literary Public Sphere (Stanford University Press, 2004) which won the Heyman Prize for Outstanding Publication in the Humanities at Yale University. She has published widely in journals on topics from aesthetics, to the novel in the early Atlantic world, to Barbary pirates. She is the Co-Director of the Futures of American Studies Institute at Dartmouth College and the former the chair of the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Association. She currently serves on the editorial boards of Early American Literature and PMLA. Her new book, New World Drama: Performative Commons and the Atlantic Public Sphere, 1649-1849, is forthcoming from Duke University Press and she is co-editing, with Michael Drexler, a volume of essays on early American culture and the Haitian Revolution.

seminar, 12:30-2, 8201.01: “John Marrant Blows the French Horn,” from the collection Early African American Print Culture in Theory and Practice, ed. Lara Cohen and Jordan Stein (UPenn, 2012);
“Coloniality, Performance, Translation,” soon to appear in the forthcoming collection Transatlantic Traffic and (Mis)Translations, ed. Robin Peel and Daniel Maudlin (UPNE, 2013);
“Obi, Assemblage, Enchantment,” soon to appear in the inaugural issue of the journal J-19 in a roundtable on “enchanted criticism” that Nancy Bentley organized.

lecture, 4-6, 8201.01: “Pre-Occupation and the Performative Commons.”

This talk considers the long history of commoning as a mode of both occupying land—living in common—and achieving political representation as a people or political “commons.” Tracing a link between the enclosure of the commons in 16th-18th century England and the seizure of land from Native peoples in the Americas, the paper explores the history of the expropriation of common land from the people, and subsequent efforts to rematerialize the political force of the common people in acts of performance. Turning to theatrical performance, the paper considers the aesthetics of commoning in plays such as John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera” and concludes with discussion of the contemporary Occupy Movement as a performative commons.

————————————-

8 April: The University Beyond Crisis, a daylong symposium featuring Tita Chico, Roderick Ferguson, Laura Hyun Yi Kang, and Siobhan Somerville among others — details TBA.

————————————-

12 April: Fred Moten

The Helen L. Bevington Professor of Modern Poetry at Duke University, Fred Moten works in black studies at the intersection of performance, poetry and critical theory. He is author of numerous books and articles including Arkansas (Pressed Wafer Press, 2000), Poems (with Jim Behrle) (Pressed Wafer Press, 2002), In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (University of Minnesota Press, 2003), I ran from it but was still in it. (Cusp Books, 2007), Hughson’s Tavern (Leon Works, 2008) and B Jenkins (Duke University Press, 2010).

seminar, 12:30-2, 8201.01: “The Touring Machine,” by Fred Moten; also, interview with Edouard Glissant (in conversation with Manthia Diawara); “Will Sovereignty Ever Be Deconstructed?” by Catherine Malabou; “New Spheres of Transnational Formations,” by Kamari Clarke; “Black in Time,” by Michelle Wright; “Response by Author,” by Kamari Clarke.

lecture, 4-6, 8201.01: “Notes on Passage: Anepistemology, Paraontology, Insovereignty”

In this talk, Fred Moten considers what the thought, or the mode of study, of the refugee might be able to teach us about life beyond or over the edge of personal/political sovereignty. More specifically, this lecture addresses his interest in what a kind of stateless thinking, a thinking that remains in (middle) passage, still has to offer Afro-diasporic studies and, more broadly, the study of modernity in the Atlantic World.

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Rebecca Fullan’s Opening Remarks- J. Kehaulani Kauanui’s Seminar

Hi all!  It’s been a literal whirlwind of a semester since this really lovely visit from J. Kehaulani Kauanui, but I thought I would finally share my opening remarks, at least a few minutes before the next large Revolutionizing American Studies lecture!  Here they are:

At the end of “Colonialism in Equality: Hawaiian Sovereignty and the Question of U.S. Civil Rights,” J. Kehaulani Kauanui writes about ways of changing the relationship between the United States and indigenous nations:

…let us imagine the U.S. nation-state doing the following: honoring and abiding by all of the treaties signed between the U.S. government and indigenous nations; returning all of the national parks to the indigenous peoples from whom they were taken; federally recognizing all tribal nations and entities who seek this acknowledgement… and restoring all previously terminated tribes with federal acknowledgement.  None of these four suggestions need be tied to the goal of indigenous nations becoming nation-states, but if these sound absurd, it is only because of the conditions brought about by settler colonialism this proposal seeks to devastate.  Indeed, the Untied States will not take action on any of these at this particular moment in time because the U.S. State would collapse. This is a crisis that is inherent to the U.S. nation state (647-648).

The crisis inherent to the U.S. nation state is something that Professor Kauanui makes strikingly visible in the three pieces we have read for today.  I read this inherent crisis as meaning both that the U. S. nation state cannot exist without these conditions of disenfranchisement, deracination, and destruction of indigenous peoples, both symbolically and bodily, and that it also cannot exist without this crisis existing.  It is an essential crisis, of which one of its attributes may be creating an appearance of resolution or ending, but which can never be ended within the existence of the nation-state, because the crisis shapes the bounds of the nation-state itself.  This is a big claim, but it is borne out through the details of political, legal, and cultural responses seen in Professor Kauanui’s work.  One of the most telling details to me, mentioned in both “Colonialism in Equality” and “Hawaiian Nationhood, Self Determination, and International Law,” is that the four United Nations members to vote against the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples were Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.  These votes make clear that the inherent crisis is not just a way of thinking about settler colonial states, but is a lively, direct, pressing influence on the behaviors of those states, no matter how muted the discussion or how prevalent the myth of resolution may be.

In “Hawaiian Nationhood, Self Determination, and International Law,” Professor Kauanui is more specific about how exactly this kind of crisis is present in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states both that ‘indigenous peoples have the right of self determination’ and that the declaration is not “authorizing or encouraging” dismemberment of currently recognized states. As demonstrated by her example of the ways in which it would threaten U.S. sovereignty if the Navajo Nation sought independence, both indigenous self-determination and the absolute continuity of recognized sovereign states cannot happen fully at the same time, suggesting that contradiction is a characteristic of the inherent crisis of settler states.

The inherent, ongoing crisis and cyclical self-contradiction that these sets of examples put forth as the condition of the settler state are nicely congruent with what Professor Kauanui and Patrick Wolfe discuss in their interview “Settler Colonialism Then and Now,” in which settler colonialism is framed as a “practice” rather than an “event.”  I love the term practice because it encapsulates the ongoing nature of settler colonialism, and demonstrates how people are wrapped up in the structure of it with or without consent or understanding, but also focuses on the idea of repeated thinking and doing—if I practice something, I do it.  If I engage in a practice I must do a repeated action, but one that may change its shape over time.  To see settler colonialism in this way allows us to begin to perceive the nature and meaning of the inherent crisis of indigenous sovereignty and existence as that which creates the ever-enacted, often rhetorically shifting practice of how a settler state attempts to embody itself.  I see the “genocidal logic” of the use of blood quantum to determine and police Native Hawaiian identity as a practice of genocide on the level of thought-structures and what is possible to be imagined.

One thing that Professor Kauanui’s work does as a whole is present prismatic slices of how the logics, laws, and policies coming out of the practice of settler colonialism fail to constitute indigenous identity in a livable way or a way that contains even the possibility of sovereignty.  American civil rights discourse and laws cannot adequately address the sovereignty claims of the Kanaka Maoli, nor can the concept of race (and its attendant laws and practices), nor can the functions of international law under the U.N., because all of these operate out of practices and logics that do not encompass enough of the details of Kanaka Maoli history to respond to it as a whole, so justice is always truncated in how these structures interpret the past and the present.  Perhaps even more importantly, all of these ways of structuring understanding and policy can, and in the case of the Kanaka Maoli, do participate in the genocidal logic that is, perhaps, the most pervasive response to the never-ending crisis of the settler-colonial state.

How, then, to disrupt this practice or to practice something else?  By demonstrating the inadequacy of various U.S. and international ways of imagining and responding to the Kanaka Maoli, Professor Kauanui takes away the border-markers of our possible ways of seeing race, indigeneity, law, sovereignty, justice, etc. within the essential crisis that constitutes a settler colonial nation state.  It’s not that these concepts have no meaning, but that they must be expanded and re-imagined in order for us to perceive with any clarity where we are and how we might proceed without blindly (and blindingly) repeating the practices that got us here in the first place.  At the end of “Colonialism in Equality,” Professor Kauanui says that the only way to make the UN Declaration on indigenous rights a real “victory” is to “work to give it meaning and substance,” which in context implies that the crisis of the U.S. and other settler colonial nation states must be addressed outside of its own logic and self-definition.  This idea is also present at the end of “Hawaiian Nationhood” in the proposal that “the combination of international law and honest bilateral dialogue might be the only venue open for redress” in terms of Hawaiian sovereignty.  Bilateral, in this case, refers to the U.S. government and Kanaka Maoli representatives.  In other words, everyone involved in this crisis must speak directly to each other to have a hope of proceeding beyond the terms defined by the settler colonial nation state.  I’m also extremely interested in the “anxiety of settler colonial societies” about the perpetual crisis of Indigenous sovereignty, which Professor Kauanui and Professor Wolfe discuss in their interview: Wolfe says “it has huge political potential” (251), and I am eager to discuss the shape of that potential.  The poem “Thinking about Hawaiian Identity” by Maile Kehaulani Sing, which Professor Kauanui uses as an epigraph for her book Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity, ends with the lines “Hawaiian entitlement to be free/ From the thick of/ American fantasy.” Each of these proposals, ideas, and ways of seeing addresses how we might learn to practice differently, but it’s a question we must consistently readdress from different angles, as long as we exist within this crisis, moving fluidly between the realm of what can be imagined and that of what can be done—together, these will be our practice, whether we see it and will it, or not.

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RevAmStudies in November 2012!

Dear Everyone:

We hope this message finds you all well, and finds you having fared well through the storm and its aftermath.  So much has transpired since we last wrote, and since we last gathered for a RevAmStudies event — coming together again will be, as always, restorative!  It was terrific to see some of you in Puerto Rico for the American Studies Association conference last week.  Many, we saw at the awards ceremony where the inaugural Angela Davis Award for Public Scholarship was bestowed upon Ruth Wilson Gilmore — clearly, the ideal match between award and awardee, and the standing ovation (two of them!) as the award was given attests to the broad recognition of the significance and impact of Professor Gilmore’s work — congratulations, Ruthie!

As always, we want to thank Grad Center President William Kelly for his sustaining support as well as that of his office; and the Advanced Research Collaborative at the Graduate Center and the Center for the Humanities for their vital efforts on behalf of this initiative.  We’re also grateful to J. Kēhaulani Kauanui for bringing her insights and incisiveness and her expansive generosity to us last month, and to Cambridge Ridley-Lynch and Chris Eng, our student colleagues.

We are very much looking forward to seeing many of you at next week’s RevAmStudies seminar and lecture (both on Friday, 30 November), featuring Hester Blum, whose work and visit provide us the terrific opportunity to think about and through the rubric of “oceanic studies” as a frame for Americanist scholarship.  Professor Blum is Associate Professor of English at the Pennsylvania State University and Interim Associate Director for the Penn State Institute for the Arts and Humanities. Her first book,The View from the Mast-Head: Maritime Imagination and Antebellum American Sea Narratives (University of North Carolina Press, 2008), received the John Gardner Maritime Research Award; she has also published a critical edition of William Ray’s Barbary captivity narrative Horrors of Slavery (Rutgers University Press, 2008). A founder of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, she is at work on a new book called Polar Imprints: The Print Culture of Arctic and Antarctic Exploration.  We are very pleased that she will be with us.

The details of the events — free and open to the public — are below, and the readings may be found on the Center for the Humanities RevAmStudies site: http://centerforthehumanities.org/seminars/revolutionizing-american-studies.

We wanted also to share information about upcoming opportunities at the Graduate Center, made possible by the Mellon Committee on Globalization and Social Change, to engage Lisa Lowe, Professor of English at Tufts University, who will be offering a lecture on 4 December at 4:30p titled “Archives of Liberalism: The Intimacies of Four Continents.”  Please seehttp://globalization.gc.cuny.edu/ for more information.

RevAmStudies goes on winter hiatus after next week’s events.  For spring 2013, we have conjured a line-up that includes Matt Jacobson (8 February), Elizabeth Maddock Dillon (March 8), and Fred Moten (12 April).  In the works are also a possible 30 January event (details TBA), and on 8 April, we will be co-sponsoring a daylong symposium on “The University Beyond Crisis” — stay tuned for more information!

We wish you all a lovely break and again, look forward to seeing you next week!
Best,
Kandice & Duncan

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