March 7, 2013
4:30 P.M., L140 Conrad A. Elvehjem Building
Eddie Glaude, Jr.
William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies, Department of Religion, and Chair, Center for African American Studies, Princeton University
'Democracy in Black: Identity Politics in a Post-Soul Era'
In his lecture, Glaude explores how "whiteness" continues to distort American democracy, disfiguring our precious ideals into unsightly and dangerous justification for ugly practices that ultimately cast away democratic principles, and eventually, people. This distortion requires a response, specifically from those who are disproportionately affected by the unseemly machinations of whiteness in our politics. Those who suffer injury, in part because they are not white, must give voice to the distinctiveness of their experiences in order to expand democratic possibility. Black politics, at its best, has done precisely this. No matter the specific demands of the black freedom struggle throughout our history, the one constant has been a complete and unequivocal rejection of the oxymoronic idea of "white democracy." But the public expression of black suffering has become increasingly difficult today, because "white democracy" trades in the language of color-blindness and the political idea of Black America has collapsed in the face of internal differences unleashed in what can be called a post-soul era.
Galude confronts a possible paradox: that the current expression of "white democracy" requires a response in the form of black identity politics, but the political idea of Black America has collapsed in the face of fragmenting black communities, where the once powerful ideal of black solidarity crumbles under the weight of internal class and generational differences. Glaude answers the paradox with a call for a more robust form of black identity politics attuned to the differences within black communities and rooted in a grassroots democratic ethos that exposes the continued political and moral work of "whiteness" in America.
Professor Eddie Glaude's research interests include American pragmatism, specifically the work of John Dewey, and African American religious history and its place in American public life. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the 2002 Modern Language Association William Sanders Scarborough Prize for his book Exodus! (2000). He has also co-edited, with Cornel West, African-American Religious Thought: An Anthology (2004).
March 22, 2012
7:30 P.M., Chazen Museum of Art, Room L160
Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania
'Chaining: Theorizing African American Representations of Person and Past'
In this talk, I am using a term, chaining, to signify the tight links, but open spaces in conceptualizing and articulating person and in recollecting and representing past in a grouping of African American texts, such as Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs, Cane by Jean Toomer, Jazz by Toni Morrison, Magic City by Yusef Komunyakaa, and The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead. Chaining is an active way of constructing the working of space in the African American imaginary. The links form connective tissue carrying ideas both forward and backward along a time-space continuum, and the open space within each link forms the contained and shaped ideas that are pushed or pulled along with the motion of the links, or that remain static when the links are unmoving and stable. Within the structure of the chain, within the openings between the metal pieces functioning as fastenings and as restrictive bondage, there is what I am calling “black space,” encircled and partly determined in terms of referential shape by being enclosed, yet at the same time open and operative. This encircled opening is the part of the chain that is overlooked, ignored, obscured, because like air it is essential, crucial, and necessary, but unobtrusive and unseen. I derive black space from conceptualizing chaining and its three dimensionality as organic to a mechanism that touches the body, that is intimate and portable, moving with the body and reverberating with a multiplicity of bodies and bodily experiences, both material and psychological, and that carries through the tangible representation of the public past a wider or broader access to the multiple and vexed aspects of black life in the United States.
Davis's teaching areas include African American literature and Southern literature with an emphasis on issue of race, region, and gender. Her research interests are interdisciplinary: geography and African American writers; photography and Southern women; film and literary modernism; visual culture and the Harlem Renaissance; civil rights law and narrative fiction. Active in American Studies and Southern Studies, she has taught and lectured in Europe and Asia; most recently, she delivered papers in Tokyo, Japan, at Chuo University and at International Faulkner Symposium, sponsored by the Faulkner Society of Japan. As the Walt Whitman Chair in American Civilization, a Fulbright Distinguished Chair, at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, she participated in American Studies programs throughout Western and Central Europe. She has also held tenured professorships at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Brown University, and Vanderbilt University where she was the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English. Invested in contemporary archival work, she has been a fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, and the Huntington Library in California where she held the R. Stanton Avery Distinguished Fellowship.
March 24, 2011
7:30pm, Mills Hall, George L. Mosse Humanities Building
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
February 7, 2008
7:30pm, Wisconsin Historical Society
Frances Foster Smith
'Freedom's Journal's 'Love Ditties' and Other Writings of Courtship and Marriage in Early African America'