The Question of Africa

NOV 08, 2013 | 4:00 PM TO 8:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue
Sociology Lounge - 6112


November 08, 2013: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM







The Question of Africa

Come help us to initiate the "Question of Africa" Series featuring new writing from within the Diaspora and to celebrate the publication of three new books in African American and African Diaspora Studies by members of the CUNY Community (Tyler Schmidt, Lehman Colllege; Jonathan Gray, John Jay College; and Kelly Josephs, York College).  Professors Schmidt, Gray, and Josephs will present selections from  their works.  A reception will follow.

Jonathan W. Gray, Associate Professor of English, John Jay College, works on post-WWII American culture, specifically the various ways that the Civil Rights movement shapes cultural production. He is currently working on Illustrating the Race, a study that traces how the twin understandings of illustration-composing a drawing for visual consumption as well as the political project of bringing information long unacknowledged to the fore-function in the comics and graphic narratives depicting Black Americans published since the Civil Rights Movement waned in 1968.

Civil rights in the White Literary Imagination seeks to determine how, exactly, the Civil Rights Movement changed the literary possibilities of four iconic American writers: Robert Penn Warren, Norman Mailer, Eudora Welty, and William Styron. Each of these writers published significant works prior to the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954 and the Montgomery Bus Boycott that began in December of the following year, making it possible to trace their evolution in reaction to these events.

Kelly Baker Josephs is Associate Professor of English at York College/CUNY, specializing in World Anglophone Literature with an emphasis on Caribbean Literature. She is editor of sx salon: a small axe literary platform and manages The Caribbean Commons site.  

Disturbers of the Peace: Representations of Madness in Anglophone Caribbean Literature (University of Virginia Press, 2013)
Exploring the prevalence of madness in Caribbean texts written in English in the mid-twentieth century, Kelly Baker Josephs focuses on celebrated writers such as Jean Rhys, V. S. Naipaul, and Derek Walcott as well as on understudied writers such as Sylvia Wynter and Erna Brodber. Because mad figures appear frequently in Caribbean literature from French, Spanish, and English traditions—in roles ranging from bit parts to first-person narrators—the author regards madness as a part of the West Indian literary aesthetic.

Tyler T. Schmidt is an assistant professor of English and co-coordinator of the Writing Across the Curriculum program at Lehman College, CUNY.  His critical work has appeared in African American Review, Women Studies Quarterly, and Radical Teacher. This past summer he was a summer scholar at the Newberry Library (Chicago, IL) as part of the NEH “Making Modernism” Institute.  He is currently completing an essay on the writers Jean Toomer and Margery Latimer and their creation of a spiritual laboratory in Portage, Wisconsin in the early 1930s.
A study of race and sexuality and their interdependencies in American literature from 1945 to 1955, Desegregating Desire examines the varied strategies used by eight American poets and novelists to integrate sexuality into their respective depictions of desegregated places and emergent identities in the aftermath of World War II.  Focusing on both progressive and conventional forms of cross-race writing and interracial intimacy, the book is organized around four pairs of writers: Elizabeth Bishop and Zora Neale Hurston; poets Gwendolyn Brooks and Edwin Denby; African American novelists Ann Petry and William Demby; and Jo Sinclair and Carl Offord.  In analyzing more intimate spaces of desegregation shaped by regional, familial, and psychological upheavals after World War II, Desegregating Desire argues that “queer” desire—understood as same-sex and interracial desire—redirected American writing and helped shape the Cold War era’s integrationist politics.