February 04, 2015, BY Kathryn Kopchik

The Griot Institute for Africana Studies at Bucknell University is hosting the series, "Post-Obama Paradigms: Problems and Potentialities," during the spring semester.
"The aim is to extend the conversation and narrative about the myriad significances, meanings and cultural transformation available to America now that it has elected its first African-American President," said Anthony Stewart, series curator and English professor at Bucknell.

"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 21st century," he said.

Events in the series are free and open to the public.

The series begins Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent with Atlantic, will discuss "Barack Obama, Ferguson and Evidence of Things Unsaid," in Trout Auditorium of the Vaughan Literature Building. Last year, Coates' Atlantic blog was named by Time as one of the 25 Best in the World. His critically hailed debut, The Beautiful Struggle, is a tough and touching memoir of growing up in Baltimore during the age of crack. He is writing his first novel, about an interracial family in pre-Civil War Virginia. A former writer for The Village Voice, and a contributor to Time, O, and The New York Times Magazine, he was awarded the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism in 2012. Coates began teaching at the School of Journalism at CUNY in fall 2014.

Charles M. Blow, visual op-ed columnist with The New York Times, will give the talk, "The Obamas, Race and Slights," on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. in Trout Auditorium of the Vaughan Literature Building. Blow also will discuss how his son, a student at Yale University, was recently stopped on the campus. As graphics editor with The New York Times, Blow led the paper to a best of show award from the Society of News Design for the Times' 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.

Other events in the series include:

  • March 4: Lisa B. Thompson, playwright, will give the talk, "Performances of Cultural Trauma: Black Theatre in the (Post)-Obama Era," at 7 p.m. in the Gallery Theatre of the Elaine Langone Center. Thompson is the author of the play Single Black Female.
  • March 17: Percival Everett, novelist, will give a fiction reading March 17 at 7 p.m. in Bucknell Hall, and participate in a conversation March 18 at 7 p.m. in the Gallery Theatre of the Elaine Langone Center.
  • March 25: Travis L. Gosa, social science professor at Cornell University, will give the talk, "Black Popular Music in the Post-Obama Era: An Age of Color-Blindness and Racial Paranoia," at 7 p.m. in the Gallery Theatre of the Elaine Langone Center.
  • April 22: Paloma McGregor, choreographer and writer, will present "Student Digital Narratives," at 7 p.m. in the Gallery Theatre, Elaine Langone Center.

"The Griot Institute uses the constructs of narrative to frame critical questions relevant to the experiences, historical and contemporary of black people," said Carmen Gillespie, institute director and Bucknell professor of English. "We have examined the significances of racial constructions, the import of the relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, the implications of the Jonestown tragedy, and the impacts of the Civil Rights movement, 50 years later. This year's reflections on the meanings of the election of America's first African-American president continues and builds upon our efforts."

"The Post-Obama Paradigms Series provides a tremendous opportunity for the campus and local community to participate in national conversations about race relations, claims of being a 'post racial society' and the progress we have and have not made as a nation over the past several years," said Bridget Newell, associate provost for diversity at Bucknell. "The opportunity to hear from — and think with — such an impressive array of speakers and immerse ourselves in a semester-long exploration of issues that are relevant to all of us is extraordinary."