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The Department of African American Studies is pleased to announce the following summer courses:
“Harlem on My Mind: Cultural Production of the Harlem Renaissance” (Session D) | Instructor: Amani Morrison
From the blues of Bessie Smith to the poetry of Langston Hughes, from cabarets to rent parties, a vast array of distinct cultural products and activities arose from the era known as the Harlem Renaissance or New Negro movement.  This black cultural rebirth of the 1920s and 30s was enabled by the mass migration of southern African Americans and West Indians to northern cities as well as the return of black soldiers from World War I. Artists and intellectuals flocked to the city to participate in the making of a distinctive Negro aesthetic through literature, music, fashion, art, and performance. While these participants held a common goal of upturning racist notions of black inferiority, they held varied and conflicting opinions of how to best achieve this end through their art. Their wide-ranging approaches resulted in the rich assortment of works we celebrate as the collective essence of the Harlem Renaissance and paved the way for subsequent black cultural production.

In this six-week course, we will explore the historical context that enabled the Harlem Renaissance, analyze the creative works produced in the era, and interrogate the representational politics set forth by producers within the movement. What was distinctive about New Negro aesthetics? Against what representations of blackness were New Negroes defining themselves? How and to what extent was black expression liberated in this era? How and to what extent was it policed, stifled, and constrained? These and other questions will be central to our exploration of the period.



“Race and American Film” | Instructor: Dr. Justin Gomer

This course will examine the central role of popular culture in shaping our understandings of race through film. By studying race through film and film through race, this course provides an interdisciplinary look at how film fundamentally influenced and continues to shape American racial discourse, and how race fundamentally shaped the development of the medium of film in both form and content. After spending two weeks establishing a historical grounding of the history of racial representations in Hollywood, the remainder of our course will focus on more contemporary depictions of racial conflict. While focusing on Hollywood’s representations of African Americans, we will watch movies that consider the intersecting histories of American Indians, Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, colorblindness, and the “post-racial” on screen.
Picasso’s Demoiselles: Africa, Sex, Origins and Creativity


Dr. Suzanne Preston Blier
April 14, 2016  5:30pm 
Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall

“Transversal Methods in Everyday Death-Worlds”
Lecture by Professor Jill H. Casid
Monday April 18th at 4pm in 308A Doe Library

What electrifies, what makes palpable the disavowed filaments of connection between the death-worlds over there and right here? Taking Guantánamo (and its phantom closure) as its improper object, this lecture offers an alternative in action to those engrained habits of method that partition death and life in ways that make illegible the extent to which we inhabit, in this extended period of endless war, a terror-zone in which the making of death-worlds of the living dead ostensibly “over there” in the occupied territories and extra-legal limbo zones of the “black sites” of unseen incarceration are also “right here” as the limits not just on right but also on the sensible.

This lecture finds its opening provocation in U.S. artist Laurie Anderson’s installation Habeas Corpus (October 2-4, 2015) that cast a projection of former detainee Mohammed el Gharani from an undisclosed location in W. Africa into the interior of the Park Avenue Armory in New York City and cast his live-feed image onto a colossal white plaster rendering of a seated figure in an uncanny and virtual reversal of the Lincoln Memorial in which the imprisoned takes the grand seat, white turns to black, and the history of slavery returns as the present condition of the carceral. The projection and magnification trick of the single and massive beamed-in figure converts the over-there into the unavoidably here. But the device of the story-telling projection also, at the same time, points to the limits of the figure of the solitary witness to address the complex diagram of competing virtual, material, plant, and animal powers that proliferate the unruly necro-landscape of Guantánamo. Reckoning with the death-worlds in which we lose ourselves demands a recognition of the contaminated mixtures of affect and the development of a capacity for an improper geometry, one committed to drawing lines that connect not just the parallel but also and especially the non-reciprocal and incommensurable.

A historian, theorist, and practicing artist, Jill H. Casid is Professor of Visual Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of Sowing Empire: Landscape and Colonization (Minnesota, 2006) which received the College Art Association’s Millard Meiss award and Scenes of Projection: Recasting the Enlightenment Subject (Minnesota, 2015) as well as the coedited volume Art History in the Wake of the Global Turn (Yale, 2014). Recent articles have appeared in Women and PerformanceTDR, and the Journal of Visual Culture. She is currently completing a two-volume book project on Form at the Edges of Life and co-editing a volume of essays The Deaths and Afterlives of Queer Theory with Michael Jay McClure. 

This event is co-sponsored by the History of Art Department, the Department of African-American and African Diaspora Studies, the Townsend Working Group in Contemporary Art, and the Black Feminist Epistemologies of Afro-Pessimism Working Group.

Maroons and World History Conference
May 5, 2016 8:30 am-5:30 pm 
University of California, Berkeley
Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities