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!)


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.


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 (

) 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)


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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