The aim of the Griot Institute for Africana Studies spring 2015 series is to extend the conversation and narrative about the myriad significances, meanings, and cultural transformations(?) available to America now that it has elected its first African American President. Particularly, we are interested in deliberating the symbolic, ideological, iconographic impacts on Americans' conceptions of themselves as a people. For instance, in what ways has the United States been changed as a result of electing Obama: in terms of race relations, political progress, a newly emboldened conservatism, and other aspects of life in America in the twenty-first century.
Series curator: Professor Anthony Stewart, Department of English
"Barack Obama, Ferguson, and Evidence of Things Unsaid"
Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most original and perceptive voices in America—and one of our best writers. An Atlantic National Correspondent, Ta-Nehisi Coates has penned many influential articles. Last year, Coates's lively Atlantic blog—a lesson in how to thoroughly engage a community of readers—was named by Time as one of the 25 Best in the World. Ta-Nehisi Coates' critically hailed debut, The Beautiful Struggle, is a tough and touching memoir of growing up in Baltimore during the age of crack. Coates is currently writing his first novel, about an interracial family in pre-Civil War Virginia. Coates is a former writer for The Village Voice, and a contributor to Time, O, and The New York Times Magazine. In 2012, he was awarded the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism. In Fall 2014, Coates began a new position teaching at the School of Journalism at CUNY. || Watch video below.
(co-sponsored with the Department of Economics)
"The Obamas, Race and Slights"
Charles M. Blow is The New York Times's visual Op-Ed columnist. His column appears in The Times on Saturday. Mr. Blow joined The New York Times in 1994 as a graphics editor and quickly became the paper's graphics director, a position he held for nine years. In that role, he led The Times to a best of show award from the Society of News Design for the Times's information graphics coverage of 9/11, the first time the award had been given for graphics coverage. He also led the paper to its first two best in show awards from the Malofiej International Infographics Summit for work that included coverage of the Iraq war. Mr. Blow went on to become the paper's Design Director for News before leaving in 2006 to become the Art Director of National Geographic Magazine. Before coming to The Times, Mr. Blow had been a graphic artist at The Detroit News. || Watch video below.
"Performances of Cultural Trauma: Black Theatre in the (Post-) Obama Era."
Lisa B. Thompson is a playwright and Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently the Associate Director of the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies. Thompson is the author of Beyond The Black Lady: Sexuality And The New African American Middle Class, the play Single Black Female, a nominee for the 2004 LA Weekly Theatre Award for best comedy. Her work has been supported with fellowships and awards from a number of institutions, including the University of California's Office of the President, Michele R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, UCLA's Center for African American Studies, the Five Colleges Inc., and Stanford University's Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. || Watch video below.
Discussion: "Post-Obama Paradigms: Problems and Potentialities a Conversation with Percival Everett"
Percival Everett is an American writer and Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California. In 22 years, he has written 19 books, including a farcical Western, a savage satire of the publishing industry, a children's story spoofing counting books, retellings of the Greek myths of Medea and Dionysus, and a philosophical tract narrated by a four-year-old.
Everett teaches courses in creative writing, American studies and critical theory. Everett's writing has earned him the PEN USA 2006 Literary Award, the Academy Award for Literature of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the PEN/Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature, and the New American Writing Award. || Watch video below.
"Black Popular Music in the Post-Obama Era, An Age of Color-Blindness & Racial Paranoia."
Travis L. Gosa Dr. is Assistant Professor of Social Science at Cornell University. Since 2008, he has served on the advisory board of Cornell's Kugelberg Hip Hop Collection, the largest archive on early hip hop culture in the United States. He teaches courses on hip hop culture, educational inequality, and African American families. Dr. Gosa received his Ph.D. in Sociology from The Johns Hopkins University in 2008. He seeks to understand how the overlapping spheres of family, schooling, and the larger context of race intersect to place black youth at risk while creating advantages for others. In addition, he is interested in how black youth make sense of their own social worlds, particularly how they (re)construct identities and meanings that challenge and/or (re)produce their social status. He teaches courses on race, education, hip-hop, and the African American family.
Paloma McGregor is a choreographer, writer and organizer living in Harlem. An eclectic artist, she has structured improvisation for a floating platform in the Bronx River, choreographed an Afro-futurist pop opera at The Kitchen and devised a multidisciplinary performance work about food justice with three dozen community members and students at UC Berkeley. McGregor is director of Angela's Pulse, which creates and produces collaborative performance work dedicated to building community and illuminating bold, new stories. McGregor will be working with the Bucknell course associated with the series and taught by Prof. Anthony Stewart, with the assistance of Prof. Bob Gainer to help the students produce digital stories in response to course content and lecture material.
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