Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 5:00 PM-6:30 PM
The Other Side of Terror: Black Women and the Culture of US Empire
Moderated by Evie Shockley, with remarks by Roderick Ferguson, Avery Gordon, Fred Moten, Nadine Naber, Mary Helen Washington, and Erica R. Edwards.
The year 1968 marked both the height of the worldwide Black liberation struggle and a turning point for the global reach of American power, which was built on the counterinsurgency honed on Black and other oppressed populations at home. The next five decades saw the consolidation of the culture of the American empire through what Erica R. Edwards calls the “imperial grammars of blackness.”
This is a story of state power at its most devious and most absurd, and, at the same time, a literary history of Black feminist radicalism at its most trenchant. Edwards reveals how the long war on terror, beginning with the late–Cold War campaign against organizations like the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the Black Liberation Army, has relied on the labor and the fantasies of Black women to justify the imperial spread of capitalism. Black feminist writers not only understood that this would demand a shift in racial gendered power, but crafted ways of surviving it.
The Other Side of Terror offers an interdisciplinary Black feminist analysis of militarism, security, policing, diversity, representation, intersectionality, and resistance, while discussing a wide array of literary and cultural texts, from the unpublished work of Black radical feminist June Jordan to the memoirs of Condoleezza Rice to the television series Scandal. With clear, moving prose, Edwards chronicles Black feminist organizing and writing on “the other side of terror”, which tracked changes in racial power, transformed African American literature and Black studies, and predicted the crises of our current era with unsettling accuracy.
Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/165962740023 to receive a discount code. Please also make sure to register here https://gc-cuny.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_EzKFoOPPR36z6r55JMxQUw in order to receive the webinar link to join the event.
Sponsored by the CUNY Graduate Center American Studies Certificate Program and the PhD Program in English, New York University Performance Studies, and the Departments of English and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University.
Friday, September 25, 2020, 3:00 PM-4:00 PM
Meet the Faculty and Students Open Session
Please join us for a virtual meet and greet. You will have a chance to meet some of the American Studies faculty and ask questions related to the Certificate Program. Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/121793751389 to access the Zoom link to join.
October 8, 4:00pm-5:30pm (via Zoom)
American Studies Working Group Meeting
Students and faculty interested in and/or affiliated with the American Studies Certificate Program are invited to attend an informal gathering of what we've dubbed our Working Group on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 4 p.m. The point first and foremost is to gather; we will discuss, among other things of current interest, Scott Kurashige's 2019 American Studies Association Presidential Address, "'Unruly Subjects': American Studies from Antidiscipline to Revolutionary Praxis," which appeared over the summer in American Quarterly 72.2 (2020): 307-36 (despite the page span it's relatively brief). The address will give us the chance to reflect on American Studies institutional trajectories, intellectual genealogies, and political affiliations at the present time, and gathering at this parlous moment might be just the note of sociality and solidarity we could use right now.
October 15, 4:30pm-6:00pm (via Zoom)
Beyond Populism: A Panel Discussion
The American Studies Certificate Program invites you to join us tomorrow Thursday Oct. 15 at 4:30 p.m. for a panel discussion addressing issues raised in the newly released essay collection Beyond Populism: Angry Politics and the Twilight of Neoliberalism (West Virginia UP, 2020), edited by the Graduate Center's Jeff Maskovsky (Anthropology) and Vanderbilt University's Sophie Bjork-James. The volume takes up global authoritarian populisms including Trumpism, Brexit, angry nationalisms of various stripes, worldwide mercenaries, antifascist resistance, varieties of necropolitics, and more. Our panelists on October 5 will be Alyson Cole (Political Science, GC), Jeff Maskovsky, Frances Fox Piven (Political Science, GC), and Don Robotham (Anthropology, GC). Zoom link is below and we look forward to seeing you there.
November 19, 4:30pm-6:00pm (Zoom)
The Difference Aesthetics Makes, a roundtable on the book by Kandice Chuh, with Professors Chuh, Gayatri Gopinath (NYU), and Eng-Beng Lim (Dartmouth)
The American Studies Certificate Program invites you to join us for a COVID-rescheduled panel discussion of Kandice Chuh's The Difference Aesthetics Makes: On the Humanities "After Man" (Duke UP, 2019). Featured panelists will be Gayatri Gopinath (NYU), author of Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora (Duke UP, 2018) and Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures (Duke UP, 2005); Eng-Beng Lim (Dartmouth), author of Brown Boys and Rice Queens: Spellbinding Performance in the Asias (NYU, 2014); and the GC's own Kandice Chuh, author of imagine otherwise: on Asian Americanist critique (Duke UP, 2003) as well as the remarkable study that occasions our gathering--a book Lisa Lowe describes as a "crucial" elaboration of "an aesthetics of 'illiberal' humanism that emerges from relations of difference, not identity; from dissensus, not consensus" and Roderick Ferguson calls an "exciting and ambitious" account of the way "minority literature presents itself as the productive other to dominant articulations of the aesthetic."
March 2, 2021, 2:00pm-4:00pm, (via Zoom)
American Studies Working Group Article Workshop: Sophie Abramowitz
Sophie Abramowitz, currently an American Studies postdoctoral fellow at Brown, will discuss her December 2020 American Quarterly article, "'Trained and Taught This Song by Zora Hurston': Dramatic Ethnography and Zora Neale Hurston's The Great Day" (a pdf of the article is attached). Sophie will offer a short presentation, play some clips, and talk about the piece's arguments and structure, her research process, and the structural constraints of doing this work as a graduate student (she received the Ph.D. two years ago). Q&A to follow. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for Zoom link details.
April 22 2021, 5:00pm-6:30pm, (via Zoom)
American Studies Working Group Article Workshop: Irving J. Hunt (University of Illinois)
Our next spring Working Group article workshop will be Thursday, April 22, 5-6:30 p.m. Our guest will be Irvin J. Hunt, currently Assistant Professor of English at the University of Illinois, who will join us to discuss his December 2020 American Quarterly article, "Planned Failure: George Schuyler, Ella Baker, and the Young Negroes' Cooperative League." The article and the very brief organizing program the article discusses are attached. Irvin's essay is very compelling in both rhetorical style and political reach; Schuyler the increasingly conservative satirist is here seen in a different political guise, and the early activities of civil rights stalwart Baker receive rare attention. As with our excellent Sophie Abramowitz event last month, Irvin will offer a short presentation addressing the article's arguments and structure, his research process, and his editorial experience with AQ. Then we'll converse as a group.
Please contact us at email@example.com for details on how to join.
American Studies Books
The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley
A Poet's Journeys Through American Slavery and Independence
A paradigm-shattering biography of Phillis Wheatley, whose extraordinary poetry set African American literature at the heart of the American Revolution.
Admired by George Washington, ridiculed by Thomas Jefferson, published in London, and read far and wide, Phillis Wheatley led one of the most extraordinary American lives. Seized in West Africa and forced into slavery as a child, she was sold to a merchant family in Boston, where she became a noted poet at a young age. Mastering the Bible, Greek and Latin translations, and the works of Pope and Milton, she composed elegies for local elites, celebrated political events, praised warriors, and used her verse to variously lampoon, question, and assert the injustice of her enslaved condition. “Can I then but pray / Others may never feel tyrannic sway?” By doing so, she added her voice to a vibrant, multisided conversation about race, slavery, and discontent with British rule; before and after her emancipation, her verses shook up racial etiquette and used familiar forms to create bold new meanings. She demonstrated a complex but crucial fact of the times: that the American Revolution both strengthened and limited Black slavery.
In this new biography, the historian David Waldstreicher offers the fullest account to date of Wheatley’s life and works, correcting myths, reconstructing intimate friendships, and deepening our understanding of her verse and the revolutionary era. Throughout The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley, he demonstrates the continued vitality and resonance of a woman who wrote, in a founding gesture of American literature, “Thy Power, O Liberty, makes strong the weak / And (wond’rous instinct) Ethiopians speak.”
Published March 2023
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Abolition Geography Essays Towards Liberation
New collection of writings from one of the foremost contemporary critical thinkers on racism, geography and incarceration
Gathering together Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s work from over three decades, Abolition Geographypresents her singular contribution to the politics of abolition as theorist, researcher, and organizer, offering scholars and activists ways of seeing and doing to help navigate our turbulent present.
Abolition Geography moves us away from explanations of mass incarceration and racist violence focused on uninterrupted histories of prejudice or the dull compulsion of neoliberal economics. Instead, Gilmore offers a geographical grasp of how contemporary racial capitalism operates through an “anti-state state” that answers crises with the organized abandonment of people and environments deemed surplus to requirement. Gilmore escapes one-dimensional conceptions of what liberation demands, who demands liberation, or what indeed is to be abolished. Drawing on the lessons of grassroots organizing and internationalist imaginaries, Abolition Geography undoes the identification of abolition with mere decarceration, and reminds us that freedom is not a mere principle but a place.
Edited with an introduction by Brenna Bhandar and Alberto Toscano.
Published May 2022
How Capitalism Forms Our Lives
Edited By Alyson Cole and Estelle Ferrarese
By using the concept of capitalism as a “form of life”, the authors in this volume reconceive capitalism, its mechanisms and effects on our bodies and on our common life.
The idea that capitalism is more than a discrete economic system and instead a “form of life” that shapes our relationships with others, our sense of ourselves and our capacities, practices, bodies, and actions in the material world should be rather obvious. Yet efforts – whether through criticism or policy remedies – to redress the vast inequalities, inherent exploitation, alienation, and the manifold destructive effects of capitalism on the environment, typically proceed without grappling fully with the entwinement of the economic with the social and cultural, much less the ethical, ontological, and phenomenological. This volume proposes “form of life” as a heuristic tool, connecting literatures that often remain isolated from one another – the Frankfurt School, neo-materialism, Wittgenstein’s philosophy, Foucault’s and Agamben’s biopolitics, and Marx’s discussion of reproduction. In emphasizing economic practices, as opposed to capitalism as a system, they conceive of “the economic” as an integral and integrated dimension of life, and thus develop new possibilities for critique. Viewing human beings as “economic bios,” provides a needed alternative to analyses that position neoliberalism as an economic logic imposed upon the social and cultural.
Published March 2021