Thanks to the labor and dedication of DH Caucus Steering Committee Members Nabeel Siddiqui and Jennifer Ross, I am happy to present this year’s ASA Digital Panels list, on behalf of the ASA Digital Humanities Caucus. These panels represent the breadth of work on digital culture and digital humanities taking place within the American Studies Association.
Stay tuned for more announcements about other conference-related Caucus News, including the Digital Shorts session, our Sponsored Panels, Business Meeting, DH Consultations, and Reception!
If you don’t see your panel represented on this list, please drop me a line on Twitter (@NazcaTheMad) or via email (amanda dot phillips at georgetown dot edu) and I’ll be happy to add you.
For a Google Doc of this schedule, go here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fMMiP8taSDWzDjvomF6l1WdBjH9sE0BENcs9zNbs4fw/edit?usp=sharing
Thursday, November 8
Emergent Vitalities: Resurgence as Emergence in Indigenous Visualities
Thu, November 8, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta D (Seventh)
In the adaptation of Indigenous stories and futures to various “entangled technologies” as Faye Ginsberg calls them, a process of building cultural sovereignty begins by subverting the dominant ideologies that have attempted to either ignore Indigenous existence, assimilate Indigenous people, or eradicate Indigenous people completely. It is these “entangled technologies” that have brought about moments of creation, of “emergent vitalities,” as Bernerd C. Perley calls them, that have allowed Indigenous populations to speak back, through the retelling of stories, histories, and ontologies, to a world that continues to attempt Indigenous eradication. Although, Perley is referencing this in a specific context this term can be used as a broader framework to express how Indigeneity is interpreted and translated through “entangled technologies” as Ginsberg says, to “recuperate [Indigenous] collective stories and histories” (41). In this move to claim representation for Indigenous epistemologies, technology has led the way as a mode of expression that has allowed Indigenous peoples to adapt their stories and traditions. This merging of new expressive technologies and traditional ways of knowing have brought about new “emergent vitalities,” that allow for moments of creation that reflect a distinctive and differing world-view.
This panel will take up Indigenous visualities in reference to how these “entangled technologies” create moments of emergence and resurgence. It will examine in various ways how these Indigenous visualities are interpreted through technologies such as film and digital media. Some of the issues and questions that this panel will address include how films and new media embody ideas of sovereignty and show that forms of technology can be decolonized and Indigenized, for political representation in larger transnational settings. As well as how film and new media are mediums that allow for a visual expression of these forms of sovereignty and how they give us a context for visual sovereignty as a process that exchanges knowledge through this creative production.
Chair: Seth Cosimini, University at Buffalo
Water Walkers, Digital Artwork, and Indigenous Futurities—Danika Fawn Medak-Saltzman, Syracuse University
Survivance Images and Contrapuntal Temporalities in Maliglutit and Spear—Matt Kliewer, University of Georgia
Emergent Vitalities within Indian Country: Indigenous Futures in Fourth World Cinema—Renata Ryan Burchfield, University of Colorado-Boulder
Sonic Discipline and Disruption: Soundwaves as Political Action for and against the State
Thu, November 8, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain 1 (Sixth)
The biopolitical power of the United States military and carceral state shapes the bodies and minds of populations, but what part of its power comes from the state’s use of sound, and how have critical listeners and media makers resisted these sounds historically and in the present? Too often in academic and journalistic accounts, such sound has been reduced to a message carried in musical or linguistic frame, but in this panel we examine both the material and semiotic elements of sounding and listening in order to understand the dialogical relationships between the State (with its dominance of the forms and limits of sonic public space) and the sounding and listening populace.
As we know from the playfully anxious writing of Ralph Ellison as he grumbled about “Living With Music,” sound penetrates walls regardless of our desire for it to do so. This quality of soundwaves renders bodies and other private spaces vulnerable to outside sonic force, a fact that both the State and its resistors have used to attempt to affect resistant listeners and to reach desiring listeners otherwise out of reach. In this panel we will critically engage with the ways in which mediatized sound sneaks, sings, and shouts its message, materiality, and affect across the boundaries created through and by the State. We listen critically to songs turned-military cadences-turned songs for discipling the body, audio “postcards” of every sounds sent through walls to incarcerated listeners, and the legal battle over military grade sound cannon use on New York City Black Lives Matter activists as a contest for sonic civil rights.
This panel builds from the recent flourishing of literature on sound and state violence, the impassioned activist-scholar work of critical prison studies, and the turn towards a history of the senses within American Studies to discuss the ways in which the seductive possibilities and the un-avoidablity of listening and sounding create opportunities for indoctrination, discipline, repression, and resistance.
Chair: Zandria Felice Robinson, Rhodes College
Restorative Radio: Public Airwaves through Prison Walls—Sylvia Rose Ryerson, Yale University
Cadence Count: Capturing Soldiers’ Voices for State Violence—Joseph Thompson, University of Virginia
Towards the Silencing of the State: A Fight for Sonic Civil Rights against Violent Sounds of the NYPD—Daphne Carr, New York University
Speculative Fiction as a Genre of Emergence
Thu, November 8, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain F (Sixth)
In the last decade, scholars like Aimee Bahng, André Carrington, Michelle D. Commander, Grace L. Dillon, Ramón Saldívar, and others have foregrounded the political valences of speculative fiction, exploring how speculative texts grapple with the interconnected histories and current realities of racism, colonialism, and global capitalism. Taking a cue from these works, as well as from this year’s ASA theme “States of Emergence,” this panel centers speculative fiction as a genre that produces emergences—new modes of ontology, epistemology, relationality, or politics—which challenge contemporary racial structures in U.S. culture. In particular, the panel hones in on two intimately related structures: antiblackness and settler colonialism. We suggest that speculative fiction engenders ways of living within and beyond these violent ideologies and their institutional forms.
Because speculative fiction so often crosses generic boundaries, highlighting questions of genre can illuminate the emergent potential of speculative fiction. The panel, then, brings together genre, politics, and social justice. How might speculative fiction serve as a potent tool for intervening in politics? How is history mediated through speculative elements in the service of creating a more just future? What are the consequences of using particular generic terminology to describe works of literature that engage with structures of racial violence? What new political imaginaries emerge from the collision, overlap, or convergence of different genres?
The trope of time travel serves as a connecting thread across all four papers. Time travel demonstrates the persistence and transmutation of racism, but it also potentially imagines alternative social arrangements. Whether facilitated through technology or corporeality, time travel provokes reflections on how new and better worlds might arise out of the long durée of structural violence. At the same time, this trope opens up issues of genre, including the colonial underpinnings of so much science fiction.
Each panelist takes up generic or formal considerations in the interest of grappling with the temporality of racial structures and forwarding a theory of emergence. Miriam Brown Spiers examines works by Mohawk multimedia artist Skawennati and Karuk writer Pamela Rentz in order to explore the possibilities and limits of generic distinctions; she contends that attending to such distinctions allows scholars to understand the unique ways that indigenous writers are deploying speculative fiction. Turning to another example of Native American generic and stylistic experimentation, Gabriella Friedman argues that Stephen Graham Jones’s work collapses settler colonial frames and generates new modes of identity and relationality which emerge out of that collapse. Meghan Burns reads Kiese Laymon’s novel Long Division alongside Kendrick Lamar’s music and stage performance, suggesting that both foreground the role of embodiment in recuperating expunged histories and producing “speculative truths.” Finally, Megan Behrent reassesses a canonical text of African American literature and of science fiction, arguing that Octavia Butler’s Kindred uses speculative elements to comment on contemporary debates about the Black Power movement; Butler’s “grim fantasy” yields a politics that draws on the strengths of Black Nationalism while rejecting dimensions that she found troubling.
Chair: Jolie A. Sheffer, Bowling Green State University
Indigenous Experimental Genre Fiction: The Scientific, the Fantastic, and the Speculative—Miriam C. Brown Spiers, Kennesaw State University
Stephen Graham Jones’ Structural Emergences—Gabriella Friedman, Cornell University
Speculative Truths: Performing the Archive in Kiese Laymon’s Long Divisioni and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly
The Personal is Historical: Specters of 1968 in Octavia Butler’s Kindred—Megan Behrent, CUNY New York City College of Technology
The Working Life: Culture, Class, Resilience and the Cards
Thu, November 8, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Eighth, Peachtree 2 (Eighth)
Chair: Maggie Dickinson, CUNY Guttman Community College
It’s In My Blood: Louisiana Shrimpers in a Civilization without Boats—Christopher Lirette, Emory University
Working for the Food Flow: Labour and the Supermarket in Postwar U.S. Visual Culture—Andrew Warnes, University of Leeds
Crafting Community Memory: Class and 1980s Visions of Public Computing—Joseph DeLeon, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Surviving the New Age: Intersectional Tarot Within and Against New Age Culture On- and Offline—Krystal Cleary, Tulane University
Times of Crisis, Places of Utopia: The Technoscientific Making of United States Futures
Thu, November 8, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Twelfth, Piedmont 3 (Twelfth)
This session examines the historical mobilization of crisis and utopia in the construction of technoscientific and economic landscapes and infrastructures in the United States. Recent scholarship on crisis and utopia has shown how these concepts build on and imply each other, and how together they can engender modes of presentist political order and foreclose radical orientations toward futurity (Roitman 2014; Masco 2017; Muñoz 2009; Jameson 2016; Nelson 2002). Focusing on the technoscientific mobilization of crisis and utopia, we explore the constitution of U.S. structures of epistemic and economic governance, such as the Jeffersonian vision of the internet, slavery and racial capitalism, technoscientific knowledge production at territorial, conceptual, and virtual frontiers, and Native science and technology. This session takes particular interest in troubling the temporal orientation of crisis and utopia (Murphy 2017; Nelson 2018; Jasanoff 2015; Sedgwick 2003; Ragab 2018) by delving into colonial, racial, and Indigenous labor and science, and by interrogating how past crises and utopias haunt and are replicated in new arenas and future imaginaries.
Ranging from the antebellum period to the contemporary, and from Southern plantations to Indian country and cyberspace, the papers in this session locate critical sites and moments of utopia and crisis to address the following questions: What is the historical relationship between visions of crisis and utopia in the United States Empire? What technoscientific landscapes and economic utopias have been rendered through the legacy of racial capitalism, frontier sciences, and related modes of governance? Whose crisis, whose utopia, and whose knowledge and governance is evoked by these lines of inquiry? How do crisis talk and the selective deployment of utopia function as tools of knowledge and capital production? Bringing scholarship in Indigenous studies, STS, capitalism studies, critical race studies, and queer studies, this panel refocuses our discussion of potential futures on the times and spaces through which they are imagined.
Chair: Sandy Alexandre, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Extensive Empire and Self Government: The Jeffersonian Internet and the Long Crisis of Access—Marc Aidinoff, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Do Extopians Dream of Electric Fences? Crisis, Nostalgia, and the Making of U.S. Cryptography—Gili Vidan, Harvard University
Talking to the Moon: Early 20th Century Osage Techno-Scientific Landscapes and Relations Management—Eli Nelson, Williams College
Rights without Power: Utopian Visioning in the Era of Slaver—Jeremiah Smith, Delta State/Rosendale Freedom Project
Technological Emergence/Emergency: Screen Media and the Contexts of Carcerality
Thu, November 8, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain 1 (Sixth)
This panel scrutinizes the complex discourses of media technologies that are framed as enabling resistance and protest at the same time that they are implicated in the circulation and monetization of racialized suffering. While this commodification of suffering has its own logic within our contemporary attention economy, the antecedents that have informed this relationship can be found in past technologies embedded into carceral contexts. Therefore, this panel examines the entanglements of media technology in past and present states of emergency and emergence, specifically media technologies’ role in the construction and management of racialized populations deemed criminal, Other, and/or pathological and entered into carceral regimes. Situated in disability studies, carceral studies, women’s studies, visual culture and digital media studies, and history, and unified by critical race studies, this panel offers different avenues of investigation to understand the histories and media logics that have led to our generalized state of (non)crisis. The papers excavate different genealogies of technological emergence, screen media, and state-sanctioned states of emergency. Joshua Mitchell examines how the introduction of televisions into prisons in the 1950s acted as a pedagogical and governance tool, serving to buttress the racial and gendered logics already underpinning carceral contexts. Olivia Banner focuses on the late 1960s integration of computers and videotape into psychiatric institutions and argues that the mobilization of screen media served to both legitimize a discipline in crisis as well as recenter whiteness and pathologize blackness. Wendy Sung scrutinizes the contemporary visuality of anti-Black racial violence through mobile phone technologies, arguing that progress narratives of empathy and technological rescue have delimited the very terms of racial justice. Ruby Tapia highlights the camera and photography as the means by which the state assigns criminality but that also, in the hands of artist-photographer Taryn Simon, are wielded to expose and interrupt these mediated logics by which the state condemns people to the social and physical death of the prison. Together, these papers constellate around carcerality in their concern with media’s role in the engendering and management of states of emergency.
Chair: Alexis Lothian, University of Maryland-College Park
Introducing Televisions into the 1950s Prison—Joshua Mitchell, University of Southern California
Screen Media, Racialization, and Pathologization in the Late 1960s—Olivia Banner, The University of Texas at Dallas
Black Mirror, Racial Violence, and the Refusal of Empathy as Transformative Justice—Wendy Sung, The University of Texas at Dallas
Dead Innocents: Photo-Phenomenologies of The Criminal and The Revenant—Ruby C. Tapia, University of Michigan—Ann Arbor
Mediating Emergency: Media’s Constructions, Infrastructures, and Temporalities of Crisis
Thu, November 8, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain F (Sixth)
During moments of upheaval, media often emerge as crucial means of knowledge-production, interpersonal connection, and organized response. In the mediation of such moments, as in the Twitter streams that chronicled Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in real time in 2017, broader populations are brought into a phenomenology of crisis at a distance, observing, taking on, or denying their own similarities to those most at risk. The recurring nature of such moments, and the attendant “crisis ordinariness” (Berlant 2011), further cement the visibility emergency via broadcast, social, and data-based media as a constitutive part of normal life in the contemporary United States, available for spectacle or witnessing (Kellner, 2003; Durham Peters, 2001). This panel considers how emergencies have been mediated–not merely represented–and how our understanding of the category of “emergency” arises from the distinctive modes of knowledge that these media produce.
The three papers proposed here offer three distinct perspectives on the ways that our practical and ideological knowledge of emergencies–historical and present-day–is often achieved via mediation. Elizabeth Ellcessor considers campus blue light emergency phones and 9-1-1 systems as hypervisible infrastructures of emergency media that promote feelings of security that obscure infrastructural fissures and biases. Megan Finn and Mike Annany examine the production of temporalities in earthquake publics, looking to wide-ranging technological and human assemblages involved in the recording and dissemination of earthquakes. Finally, James N. Gilmore uses theories of technological solutionism to study police body cameras as creating the conditions for solving an ever-present emergency of violence; he proposes that emergencies may give rise to limited, solution-oriented adoption of emergent media forms.
Taken together, these papers act as a reconsideration of the notion of “emergent media”. Increasingly used to refer to a host of digital, networked, smart, and mobile technologies, “emergent media” is a catch-all. Placed in the contexts of emergency, however, examination of media forms and mediation must wrestle with the ways in which particular contexts give rise to new media forms, uses, and cultures. In extremis, it becomes possible to see the ways in which the phenomenon of emergency as an ever-present element of daily life is made possible and challenged through diffuse mediation, which is always prepared for crisis.
Chair: Joshua Reeves, Oregon State University
(Infra)Structures of Feeling: Emergency Media, Visibility, and the Limits of Reassurance—Ellizabeth Ellcessor, University of Virginia
Mediating Earthquakes: How Sociotechnical Assemblages Shape Temporal Publics—Megan Finn, University of Washington-Seattle Campus
The Emergent and/as Solutionism: Body Cameras and the Problem of Violence—James N. Gilmore, Clemson University
Unruly Sensings: State Violence, Be/longing, and Aesthetics in Motion
Thu, November 8, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta F (Seventh)
How might unruly variations in time and space––non-linear or otherwise eccentric movements across land and water or through archival and historical time(s)––enable new forms of spectral kinship, mythological encounter, and being–in–motion? How might such movements suggest other logics of be/longing––both imagined and felt––that collapse (or entangle) spaces and times? The papers on this panel examine artworks that work in and with these unruly movements. Specifically, the panel looks to diasporic aesthetics to explore the aftermaths of communist revolution and other conditions of violent expulsion by authoritarian governments seeking to establish sovereign power. By centering diasporic cultural production, this panel expands the geopolitical boundaries of American Studies to incorporate Canada, as well as transnational sites of former U.S. military bases-turned-refugee camps in the Pacific Ocean––liminal sites “touched” by American imperialism. Each paper differently explores the production and inhabitation of pockets of space/time that rupture the sometimes linear logics of crisis and emergency. Working through sensate and haptic registers, the artworks explored on this panel instead enact more complex modes of deeply historical futuristic longing whose unruly movements open up new social and political ecologies. Collectively, the papers offer a theory of unruly sensing as an emergent strategy for navigating states of emergency.
Chair: Soo Ah Kwon, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Refugee Ontologies—Fiona I. B. Ngo, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Bodies Believing: Refugee Dystopian Imaginings in Tuan Andrew Nguyen’s The Island—Patricia Nguyen, Northwestern University
Touching Time, Being Touched by Time: On Cheryl Sim’s The Thomas Wang Project and Encounters with the Intimate Archive—Olivia Michiko Gagnon, New York University
The Child as Queer Emergence
Thu, November 8, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain 2 (Sixth)
If the child signals futurity, with the queer child emerges new forms of subjectivity, power and resistance. Children are often used to symbolize the emergence of ‘better’ worlds to come, even while their contemporary realities are restrained by racism, ableism, colonialism and homophobia. Facilitating a conversation between sexuality studies, queer theory and child studies, this panel conceptualizes the queer child as an emergent subject who is potentially disruptive to repressive forms of power. Each of the panel’s papers is interested in how the figure of the child is situated affectively, discursively, phenomenologically and psychologically within transnational configurations of power. Queer childhoods are conceptualized through rumours surrounding the murder of a Palestinian boy in Jerusalem, the soundscapes emergent between a girl and her mother in an Internet cafe in the Philippines, and in the practice of self-naming for trans youth in Canada. Taken together, our papers offer new forms of (dis)repair and relatedness between the adult and the child, so that queer and trans subjectivity is considered central to theories of child development and subjecthood.
Chair: Alexandra Stern, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
The Queer Sonics of Childhood: Listening to Capital, Labor, and Asymmetries of Innocence—Hannah Dyer, Brock University and Casey Mecija, University of Toronto
Conceptualizing the Self across Time: Narrating Trans Identity Development—Julia Sinclair-Palm, Carleton University
Foreclosing Emergent Sexuality: Honour Crime and Queer Adolescence in War—Natalie Kouri-Towe, Concordia University
New Joints: Imagining the Music Video
Thu, November 8, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain E (Sixth)
If Raymond Williams described the emergent as a set of not yet fully articulated meanings and values that exist in a vexed relation to alternative and oppositional practices, black culture might be understood as a force of emergence that not only threatens the stability of dominant or mainstream culture but also risks incorporation into or within the dominant itself. Ever emergent, from the Negro spirituals in the scholarship of W.E.B. Du Bois to the blues in Clyde Woods’ geography, black music and black study remain inextricable, each giving shape to the other. Following in that tradition, this panel argues that the music video is both an aesthetic and theoretical medium for working out questions of the everyday, dis/possession, the contemporary, improvisation, world-making, dreamscapes, and fugitivity at the core of black studies. As one of our panelists contends, “we might locate in the confounding and open aesthetics of the music video—neither live performance nor film, neither music nor video—a sort of queerness that marks it as irreducibly Black.”
We ask, how does the music video—a way to imagine otherwise—become an everyday site of negotiation between the afterlife of racial slavery and abolitionist futures? What do we gain from attending to the music video as a cultural space and aesthetic position for articulating fugitive pathways under the expanding apparatuses of surveillance technologies? The collaborative work of Hype Williams and Missy Elliott provides one blueprint for approaching such inquiries. The music video for “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” replete with fisheye-lens vision and prophetic textures, gestures to the aesthetic possibilities of artificiality, shine and reflection, technology and speculative imagination, citation, collaboration, and sociality.
Ranging from discussions of surveillance, lighting, color, technology, murder, dance, and the middle passage, this panel demonstrates the theoretical generativity of the black music video. Engaging with the work of Simone Browne, Fred Moten, Hortense Spillers, Alexander Weheliye, Krista Thompson, Tina Campt, and others, our panel will attempt to intervene in discussions of black study in order to argue for the contemporary black popular as theory.
Chair: Samantha L. Vandermeade, Arizona State University-Tempe
Belly Blue(s)—Elleze Kelley, Columbia University
How Does it Feel: A Sensual Meditation on Aesthetics, Blackness, and Flesh—Troizel Carr, New York University
Blackness Under the Light: Speculative Technology and Fugitive Training—Amrit Trewn, New York University
Rihvenge—Tiana Reid, Columbia University
Crisis Obscura: Racialized Exceptions and the Biopolitics of American Empire
Thu, November 8, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain G (Sixth)
Brexit, Trump, climate change all appear as events that define the present–unmanageable, exceptional, paradigm shifting, potentially catastrophic. In this context, crisis is a primary mode through which we apprehend the neoliberal present. It is central to the efforts—both academic and popular–to forge a cartography of the current moment. Making assumptions neither about the productive capacities of crisis as a hegemonic liberal technology nor about the sincerity of the efforts to apprehend and ameliorate the calamitous present, this panel examines the work that narratives of crisis enact and the histories and presents that those selfsame narratives obscure. How does a near- eschatological focus on the exceptionality of the present rearrange our understandings of the present? In what ways does a focus on the exceptionality of the catastrophic present obfuscate the ways in which the American political scene was constituted in and through a series of racialized foreclosures and denials?
Anthropologist Janet Roitman writes that the texts and narratives that foreground crisis “are a veritable industry” (2014: 3). She traces the ways in which crisis has come to frame how the present is narrated and the concomitant ‘blind-spots’ that are produced as a result of this framing (13). Following in this vein, the papers in this panel do not seek to locate moments of crisis, but rather trace the ways in which the notion of “crisis” comes to shape how we apprehend the present and the material effects of these frames. Working in different sites and considering different objects, this panel will examine how crisis operates as a lens through which contemporary scenes are made legible. How, we ask, do dominant understandings of crisis work to partially or fully obscure the workings of racial capitalism in suggesting that certain practices exist as a rupture from the quotidian rather than as an extension or an intensification of existing structures and dynamics? In what ways does crisis work toward the reproduction of the state’s legitimacy?
The papers in this panel interrogate the notion of crisis and the work that crisis does to solidify certain understandings of the quotidian–focusing not on the “rupture,” but on the naturalizations that crisis enables. Specifically, this panel draws on material from the new humanitarianisms, which traces the ways in which the instantiation of the humanitarian emergency reorganizes temporal understandings and enshrines certain understandings of vulnerability, care, and the exceptional. We think with this literature to ask, who does the language of emergency serve, and what kinds of subjects does it produce? How might we think of crisis as sensorial training? what does the timescape of emergency and crisis obscure? This panel will address these questions in crossdiscipliary ways to think about the work of crisis discursively, sensorially, and structurally.
Chair: Andrew McKevitt, Louisiana Tech University
The Wait of Disaster: Hurricanes and the Politics of Recovery and Resilience—Yarimar Bonilla
When Bad Things Happen to Privileged People: Race, Gender, and the Subprime Non-Crisis of the 1990s—Dara Strolovitch, Princeton University
Terrorism and the Limits of Liberalism—Amanda Haziz-Ginsberg, Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Crisis Activism: Race, Gender, and Mobilization in the Aftermath of Disasters—Vivian Shaw, The University of Texas at Austin
Streaming Crisis: Racialized State Violence, New Media, and Anticipatory Subjects—Katy Gray, Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Unconventional Projects for an Unconventional Era: Creative and Multimedia Work in and beyond the Classroom
Thu, November 8, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Twelfth, Piedmont 3 (Twelfth)
This session asks how American Studies practitioners can and do enact the insights of our field in the classroom: how we can intervene pedagogically in the current state of emergency with modes of inquiry that empower students. How, we ask, can American Studies apply its dedication to interdisciplinarity and social change through the practice of teaching? This is no easy task. In the words of one panelist, “students confronted with accelerating institutional neoliberalism and bigotry often voice frustration with a discipline that sometimes advocates radicalism and invention while simultaneously reinforcing conventional and confining academic demands.” Another panelist asks how a commitment within American Studies to interdisciplinary methodology can be used in the classroom to transcend traditional academic forms of student work and assessment. The panel will move between these larger abstract questions and the concrete experiences and curricula of the four panelists, including the details of syllabi and assignment design. Our collective hope is both to continue debates about American Studies pedagogy and to share a conversation among educators that might inform the daily work of education. Ideally, the question-and-answer session will be a space of idea-sharing as well as spirited dialogue.
The first paper looks at the place of activism in the American Studies classroom, arguing that while the state of emergency in which we live inspires a sense of urgency, the classroom also necessitates contemplation and the chance to historicize. This leads the author to materials from his institution’s archives documenting student activists from prior generations as a way to think historically about activist projects and inclusion. The second paper turns to a “keywords” assignment inspired by Raymond Williams’s work by that name, wherein students use a variety of media to engage with course concepts, in an attempt to move beyond academic conventions and free students to explore American Studies through a form of their own choosing. The third paper looks to poet Claudia Rankine’s work Citizen: an American Lyric as an example of a text that is ripe for multimedia approaches, as the poet accompanied it with a series of “situation videos” that extend the text. These illustrate microagressions faced by African Americans, and the unit culminates with students producing their own. The final panelist takes a transnational turn to look at experiential and digital “travels” to assess study abroad programs as a pedagogical tool within American Studies. In the process, she settles on travel as a means for students to “recalibrate their own identities” and relationship to the nation-state. With these four selections, we collectively hope to spur American Studies teaching in new directions in an effort to imagine—alongside our students—a world beyond the current state of crisis.
Chair: Michael Winslow, Independent Scholar
What Now?: Genealogies of Activism and the Accompanying Classroom—Nathan titman, Macalester College
Keywords: A Portfolio Project for Exploring Alternative Genres and Discourses in American Studies Classrooms—Larissa Werhnyak, The University of Texas at Dallas
Teaching the State of Emergence: Multimedia Poetics and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric—Eloisa Valenzuela-Mendoza, Iowa State University
Emergent Pedagogies: Studying America from Abroad—Allison Wanger, Miami University-Oxford
Remembering the 1980s through Black and Latinx Performance
Thu, November 8, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta D (Seventh)
How do we remember the 1980s? And how do the 1980s still resonate today? In the early 2000s, VH1 aired I Love the ’80s, a nostalgic show celebrating everything from Michael Jackson to Miami Vice to MacGyver. In the American national imagination, the 1980s continue to be remembered not only as a site of commercially (and sometimes also critically) successful art but also as an important origin point in the narrative of neoliberal diversity and inclusion. But there is a version of the 1980s that gets downplayed in that imaginary, one in which Republicans controlled all branches of government, a War on Drugs disproportionately targeted black and brown people, and a gutting of social welfare programs excluded many from the spoils of globalized capitalism. The papers in this session challenge us to remember the 1980s differently by entering through black and Latinx musical artists and fans. From Prince to Grace Jones to Depeche Mode and The Smiths cover bands to Tracy Chapman, the presenters invite us to explore the history-and resonances-of the 1980s from the vantage point of minoritarian subjects. Theoretically drawing from queer, black, Latinx, sound, and affect studies, the scholars investigate some of the ways that race, gender, sexuality, and class coalesced during this moment in time. In making connections between moments in the 1980s and today, the papers seek to open up a conversation about how aspects of the decade resonate in our current political-cultural moment-and how the aesthetics of the performers and performances under discussion can offer us tools for grappling with the questions and tensions of this tumultuous point in time.
Chair: Allison Page, Old Dominion University
And We’ll try to Imagine What It Looks Like: Prince, Synthesized Femininity, and the Political Potential of Vulnerability—Christine Capetola, The University of Texas at Austin
Dancing on Paper: Grace Jones, Antonio Lopez and Surface Aesthetics—Uri McMillan, University of California, Los Angeles
Dedicated to the One I Love: Latino Audiences and the 1980s Tribute Band—Richard T. Rodriguez, University of California-Riverside
Fast Cars and Soft Butch Blues: Tracy Chapman, Butch Recognition, and Cultural Memory—Francesca Royster, De Paul University
Static, Beats, and Chains: Sound Matters in Black (After)Lives
Thu, November 8, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain 1 (Sixth)
This panel meditates on the disturbing sounds of static, beats, and chains as they index histories of black rage, incarceration, and stolen life in black popular culture. These critical reflections will think through and beyond the domain of the lyrical/musical in order to consider how–whether through innovative uses of technology, creative collaborative work, or signifying performances and everyday practices–sound practices matter and take on meaning in the context of anti-black violence and ‘the new Jim Crow.’ In these papers, the past is re/sounded and time circles around producing stuck grooves, sick loops, and angry feedback. How do sound practices help us make it through and live on despite the systematic incarceration and killing of black and brown bodies? How can, and do, we make our present critically resonant with our past? How might popular sounds serve as archives of feeling involved in animating and re/animating the soul? Highlighting some of the most iconic black performers and performances of contemporary hip hop culture, this panel adopts ethno/musicological methods in dialogue with black critical studies and sound studies scholarship in order to pay close attention to aesthetic forms and cultural practices, and to develop new lines of critique for thinking through the intersections of sound matters and black (after)lives.
Chair: Mathew Swiatlowski, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Black Static, or Defecation on the Microphone—Edwin Hill, University of Southern California
Making Beats, Producing Meaning: Johnny J and Tupac Shakur’s Life Goes On—Loren Kajikawa, George Washington University
Carceral Soundings and the Specter of Chain Gangs in Black Popular Music—Christina Zanfagna, Santa Clara University
Transnational Feminist Methodologies: Incommensurability, Relationality, and Illegibility
Thu, November 8, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain C (Sixth)
Emerging out of a University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) Residential Research Group on Transnational Feminism, this roundtable engages this field and topic not by attempting to define what transnational feminism is, but by investigating how we might put the very different historical, geographical, and political contexts of a variety of feminist projects in conversation with each other without presuming or demanding a universal framework through which to understand them. In so doing, this roundtable addresses the conference theme of “States of Emergence” by identifying the ways in which transnational feminist solidarities can emerge through epistemologies of incommensurability, relationality, and illegibility.
The projects of the scholars on this panel are not bound by field, historical period, or geographic region, but instead are connected through their shared investigation of the politics of knowledge and the (im)possibility of epistemological certitude. Zeynep Korkman interrogates international academic solidarity campaigns following the ongoing persecution of academics in/from Turkey which have been motivated by a desire to render the struggles of persecuted academics legible to their peers globally while being troubled by the limitations of translating what many felt a more complex predicament into the universalizing liberal idiom of academic freedom. She asks (how) transnational feminist methodologies of incommensurability and illegibility help address such vexing questions around (academic) solidarity. Rachel Fabian uses the example of US feminist Martha Stuart’s production of two videos during the 1975 International Women’s Year Tribune in Mexico City, which played a significant role in her later conceptualization of the Village Video Network—an unstudied transnational network of video workshops cofounded by Stuart and the United Nations University in Tokyo in 1981. Focusing on the tapes’ talk-show format, which Stuart adopted from her independent television series Are You Listening (PBS, syndicated, 1969–85), Fabian looks at the ways in which the tapes figure key disjunctures and underacknowledged affinities within internationalist feminist discourses that emerged during the UN Women’s Decade (1975–85). Finally, Jessica Millward relies on her archival-based research project connecting African American women, feminism and intimate partner violence following the US Civil War. By using illegibility and archives of difference as transnational feminist methodologies, this discussion offers a larger perspective on how African American women experienced, interpreted and survived their experiences with intimate partner violence in the first 50 years after slavery. In doing so, this paper suggests that the very illegibility of African American women in the archive translates into the invisibility of violence against African American women in the era of Black Lives Matter. Grace Kyungwon Hong will provide comment.
Chair: Grace Hong, University of California-Los Angeles
Rachel Colleen Fabian, SUNY at Purchase College
Jessica Millward, University of California-Irvine
Zeynep K. Korkman, University of California-Los Angeles
Performing under Settler Colonial Crisis: Black and Indigenous Mobilizing on the Stage, Screen, and Streets
Thu, November 8, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain E (Sixth)
This panel explores Black and Indigenous resistance to settler colonial practices. Scholarship has long contended that creating and maintaining white nations has been a central tenet of settler colonialism, whether through indigenous child removal policies or via Wild West Shows that reenacted fantasies of conquest over indigenous land and populations (Margaret Jacobs, 2009; Kate Flint, 2009). Drawing on this line of thought, this panel understands settler colonialism as an ongoing, transnational crisis that seeks to create a global white supremacy (Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds, 2008).
Following scholars such as Daphne Brooks and Jayna Brown, this panel takes up performance as an important site of resistance. It specifically examines how such moments of resistance to settler colonial practices and logics by Black and Indigenous performers and activists—often fleeting, sometimes ambiguous—occurred on the stage, screen and in everyday life. It thus offers a broader definition of performance to include ordinary people whose quotidian acts undo settler colonialism.
The first paper, “(Un)doing Settler Colonialism Abroad: Paul Robeson’s Fight for Aboriginal Rights in Australia”, examines one of the most well known actors attached to the southern nostalgia industry—Paul Robeson—and how he used his role in Show Boat to speak out against anti-Aboriginal sentiment in Australia. Also taking a transnational approach, “Confronting Anti-Blackness, Challenging Settler Colonialism: First Nations Feminist Television” analyzes the indigenous feminist television production, Mohawk Girls, to highlight the reaches of anti-blackness into First Nations communities as yet another manifestation of the white supremacy heralded by settler colonialism and to demonstrate how indigenous feminism critiques these forces through sitcoms by and for Native peoples. Also exploring resistance by Indigenous cultural producers, “Indigenous Hip Hop and Decolonization: Toward a Global Indigenous Popular Culture” discusses how Indigenous hip hop serves as a platform for challenging settler colonialism and forging new possibilities of freedom. Finally, “‘What our Bodies Know to be True:’ White Violence, Black Maternal Loss, and Performative Resistance” expands our understanding of performance by exploring the organizing strategies of black mothers, whose children’s murders have been justified by the police state, as they publicly disrupt the national narrative of black disposability.
Together, these papers examine the potential for (and limits of) interracial coalition building that emerges from these subversive acts. This panel thus follows scholars like Iyko Day who, in her article “Being or Nothingness: Indigeneity, Blackness, and the Settler Colonial Critique”, disrupts the Indigenous/settler binary and Black/slavery binary that often dominates scholarship on settler colonialism and instead argues for a more relational approach to studying race that makes room for examinations of alliances among people of color against both shared and divergent oppressions (Iyko Day, 2015). In its understanding of settler colonialism as a transnational project of whiteness, this panel also argues for a settler colonial critique that moves beyond the nation as a primary analytic.
Chair: Shona N. Jackson, Texas A & M University-College Station
(Un)doing Settle Colonialism Abroad: Paul Robeson’s Fight for Aboriginal Rights in Australia—Felicia Bevel, Brown University
Confronting Anti-Blackness, Challenging Settler Colonialism: First Nations Feminist Television—Elizabeth Rule, Brown University
Indigenous Hip Hop and Decolonization: Toward a Global Indigenous Popular Culture—Kyle T. Mays, University of California-Los Angeles
What Our Bodies Know to Be True: White Violence, Black Maternal Loss, and Performative Resistance—Channon S. Miller, University of San Diego
Archival Justice: Minding the (Human) Gap in Teaching and Research
Thu, November 8, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain G (Sixth)
This roundtable brings together scholars who are working on non-traditional research and teaching project that foregrounds the human experience of immigrants (loosely articulated to include undocumented, second generations and refugees) in either research or teaching, therefore minding the historical, rhetorical and political gap that continues to reproduce dominant archives and epistemologies that exclude the stories, human actions, cultural production and histories of people who identify as immigrant and who trace their ancestry to the Global South. The panel includes scholars, artists, and activists from the Atlanta area conn in with global networks, interventions and initiatives. Our panel will feature interventions from Freedom University Georgia, U-Lead and Mind the Gap. Speakers will share experiences, examples and frameworks that have shaped their projects. The moderator will pose questions to push the conversation further.
Chair: Lorgia Garcia, Harvard University
Medhin Paolos, Community Activist
Betina Kaplan, University of Georgia
Lorgia Garcia, Harvard University
Sex Negativities: The Discursive and Institutional Life of Sexual Violence
Thu, November 8, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Eighth, Peachtree 2 (Eighth)
What are the varied and mobilizing effects of stories about sexual violence? This panel will highlight the generative power of testimony and commentary about sexual violence, highlighting the often contradictory ways that difficult feelings—fear, rage, shame, vulnerability, and confusion—are taken up by survivors, social movements, and institutions. From liberatory forms of mobilization to paternalistic policies designed to protect, from strivings for reparation and justice to new technologies of policing and punishment, these papers track different but connected narratives about the terribleness of “sexual misconduct” and the divergent interventions proposed in response. Travelling across disciplines, this panel follows fear and suffering related to sexual violence through early 20th century marriage advice texts, to university Title IX offices, to social media and women’s oral histories, to LGBT youth homeless shelters.
Chair: Jennifer McClearen, The University of Texas at Austin
The Untouchable of Theory, or the Unbearable of Sex: Storied Socialities, Sexual Violence, and Women of Color—Moon Charania, Spelman College
Sex Panics and LGBT Youth Homelessness—Brandon A. Robinson, University of California-Riverside
When Sex is Doomed: Eugenics, Rape, and Heterosexuality in the 20th Century—Jane Ward, University of California-Riverside
Friday, November 9
Black Futures, Femmes, and Freedom Dreams: Visioning Black Life as Liberatory Praxis
Fri, November 9, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta G (Seventh)
This panel will examine the concept of contemporary and future Black life from multiple disciplinary perspectives. The panel coalesces around a set of questions: What are the contours of freedom? How do we chronicle, document, analyze, categorize, and theorize Black life? Which bodies and lived experiences constitute Black life? How are contemporary Black liberatory praxes connected to emergent conditions of unfreedom? Does Black life require new vocabularies, strategies, imaginations, and figurations to resist differing but interconnected iterations of unlivable living?
Fifty years after the establishment of the first department of Black Studies in the United States, it is important to explore the contours of how we study Black life both inside and outside of the academy. Each paper on this panel delves into a site for critically considering the interplay of race, gender, sexuality, imagination, marginalization, structural barriers, and institutional inertia. From critiquing the concept of “utopia” to questioning the viability of the neoliberal university as a viable space for “Black Study,” this panel seeks to expansively engage intellectual tensions, shifting fissures, contested discourses, and competing political imperatives within the broad terrain of interdisciplinary inquiry.
These papers wrestle with the university, the limitations of “perfection” as a goal for freedom work, and the possibilities of self-authored fragmentation as a vehicle for Black erotic actualization. What connects each of these papers is the demand to challenge conventional or even canonical thinking about Black life. Through formidable assertions and provocative questions, each paper tackles the combined effects of multiple jeopardy, precarity, and marginalization on the lives of Black people. More specifically, these papers ponder how to get free- and what that freedom feels, smells, tastes, moves, and sounds like. Is that freedom femme, visible, erotically autonomous, Afro-futurist, de-institutionalized, and/or wholly inclusive? What has yet to emerge from Black life that offers radical possibilities for living and studying Black Life?
Chair: Treva B Lindsey, The Ohio State University
The Future of Black Studies (In Theory)—Britney Cooper, Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Fears of a Black Femme: The Conundrum of Being a Black Queer Feminist Femme while Teaching Black, Queer, and Feminist Studies—Kaila A. Story, University of Louisville
The (Im)possibility Utopia—Susana M. Morris, Georgia Institute of Technology
Controlled Images and Cultural Reassembly: Material Black Girls Living in an Avatar World—Joan Morgan, New York University
Student Activism in the Age of Trump, #MeToo, and #BlackLivesMatter: Atlanta Student Activists in Conversation
Fri, November 9, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain C (Sixth)
The past few years have been marked by a rise in activism on college and university campuses. Black Lives Matter has been a presence on many college campuses where students have argued for black studies courses, increases in the hiring of black faculty members, and against the killing of black people by the police. However, most of the attention has been on predominantly white institutions, largely ignoring historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). HBCUs have been central to campus activism for decades. Students at schools such as Howard University, Shaw University, Fisk University, Bennett College, and North Carolina A&T launched the sit-in movement and formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Student activists at HBCUs continue this radical tradition in the era of Black Lives Matter. This legacy is also being continued by undocumented student activists at Freedom University, a school in the tradition of the freedom schools of the civil rights movement. This roundtable discussion aims to highlight these voices.
The participants are Atlanta-based student activists from Spelman College, an historically black women’s college whose students have a long history of political organizing, and Freedom University, a freedom school that offers financially accessible education for undocumented students. These activists have worked on campaigns relating to food accessibility and sexual violence, police brutality and immigration policy.
This roundtable discussion, chaired by CUNY Lehman College professor Mary Phillips, will be participatory and engaging. The participants will discuss the challenges they’ve faced and the strategies they’ve utilized as student activists. They will link politics on campus to the political climate in Atlanta and the United States. This format will allow for the activists from Spelman and Freedom University to engage with one another, as well as with the attendees of the ASA annual meeting.
Student activists at Freedom University and Spelman College are on the front lines of the fight against white supremacy, a battle whose violence is clearly taking place on college and university campuses, as evidenced by the white supremacist violence on and near the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in August 2017. Student activists have often faced state violence and political repression, as shown by the murders that took place at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg in February 1968 and at Jackson State in May 1970. As students of color, undocumented students, queer students, women, and other students face violent repression on campus from government and vigilante forces, we at the ASA have a duty to listen to and engage with students at Spelman College and Freedom University who are organizing around anti-racist feminist politics.
Chair: Mary Phillips, CUNY Lehman College
Clarissa Brooks, Spelman College
Mary-Pat Hector, Spelman College
The Role of Education and Cultural Exchange in Mitigating Crises: Case Studies of Exchanges between the U.S. and China
Fri, November 9, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain A (Sixth)
Throughout the last several decades, competing interests, gaps in perceptions, and differing political systems have moved the United States and China ever-closer to the brink of crisis. Each country’s suspicion of the other has only heightened in the context of China’s rise. Most recently, the United States’ 2018 National Defense Strategy paper evidenced the states’ mutual distrust with its emphasis on China as a “revisionist power” seeking to challenge U.S. hegemony.
However, even as these forces have pushed the United States and China apart, international exchange has remained an effective tool to reduce mistrust and prevent an emergency situation. The Fulbright Program, for which China was the first participant in 1947, continues to be the premier exchange program between the two countries. Additionally, as of 2016, over 300 thousand Chinese students account for 32% of all international students studying in the US, while China is the 5th largest recipient of US students at its education institutions. In addition to education exchange, the global feminist movement continues to be a force that transcends boundaries. Chinese women have for decades adapted American feminist ideas to their own context, including the #MeToo movement in 2017-18. Chinese and American women’s shared struggle for justice could be another force that could push the two nations closer together. This panel will explore international exchange’s utility for preventing a crisis between the United States and China, and will follow US-China Education Trust’s American Studies Network (ASN) Graduate Student Forum competition. This competition, sponsored by Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) and to be held during the 15th Annual ASN Conference at East China Normal University on November 2-4, will examine the Impact of International Education Exchange on U.S.-China Relations. The competition’s two graduate student winners, to be selected in September, will join the delegation in Atlanta to present their papers as part of this panel. Fu Meirong, Director of BFSU’s American Studies Center and leader of the Chinese delegation, will chair the panel. Li Jinzhao, BFSU Assistant Professor of Sociology and American Studies, will join as a panelist. While the winning papers’ exact topics are still undetermined, they will follow the conference’s general theme, and speak to questions such as the following:
- How can we measure the effect of exchange programs like the Fulbright Program on U.S.-China relations?
- How did the earliest exchanges between the United States and China affect the bilateral relationship?
- To what extent do the hundreds of thousands of foreign exchange students in both countries contribute to the mitigation and/or resolution of future “emergencies”?
By exploring answers to these questions and more, the panel will evaluate international education exchange’s role in avoiding crisis and improving prospects for cooperation in the most important bilateral relationship in the world.
Chair: Ye Sheng De Stefanis, US-China Education Trust
Learning and Understanding: Personal and Professional Effects of the Chinese Scholars’ Fulbright Experience in the United States—Meirong Fu, Beijing Foreign Studies University
Transnational Feminist Crises and Opportunities: From China’s Vagina Monologues to the Chinese #MeToo Movement—Jinzhao Li, Beijing Foreign Studies University
The Urgency of Aesthetics: Portrayals of Black Women in a Time of Emergency
Fri, November 9, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Eighth, Peachtree 1 (Eighth)
In 1987, Mary Helen Washington warned scholars to “learn to read the Afro-American literary tradition in new ways” because “continuing on in the old way is impossible.” Washington urged the importance of challenging scholarly portrayals of black women as disinherited individuals instead of artists, intellectuals, symbol and history makers. This appeal to reconstruct Afro-American literary studies in ways that highlight black women’s expertise about Black history, intellectual formations, and cultural production—rather than subordinating them to black men’s contributions—remains an urgent challenge to the field. Literary scholars such as Lindon Barrett and Farah Jasmine Griffin have specifically taken up this call in their studies of black aesthetic traditions by centering black women as originary producers of knowledge in times of emergency and subsequent emergence. Washington, Barrett, and Griffin each conclude that it is in times of emergency that black women’s aesthetic productions articulate new political longings about blackness.
This panel takes up this call by attending to how black women’s aesthetics form the basis of new, liberatory ways of being in moments of acute black crisis. We chronicle five moments of aesthetic emergence/y for a diverse group of black performers, writers, and activists throughout the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. In each instance, these portrayals of and by black women are energized by the urgency of crises of political and social alienation, historical erasure, dispossession, and survival. In response, these women imagine new, emergent forms of (be)longing, which reject forms of black community that sustain the logics of heteropatriarchy and neoliberal economics, and instead provide opportunities to rethink Afro-American literary canons and analytical methodologies in ways that center the lives and experiences of black women. This panel deliberately moves through various registers—literary, historical, and musical—as a gesture toward Washington’s admonition to read Afro-American literary traditions in innovative ways.
In “‘She did crawl backwards ’til she walked.’: On Punctuating Nola Darling, Musical Notation, and Enjoying the “It” You Cannot Have”, I. Augustus Durham compares acclaimed filmmaker, Spike Lee’s original filmic debut, She’s Gotta Have It (1986), to its 2017 Netflix remake to consider how the latter’s emergence at the intersection of the emergencies signaled by both the #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements produced unique decisions about the protagonist Nola’s relationship to music and its attendant logics of rhythm, rest, and improvisation. In “‘And that’s the way it was planned’: Toward A History of Post-War Black Girlhood”, Janée A. Moses utilizes oral history interviews with Amina Baraka and Kathleen Cleaver to historicize post-World War II black girlhood and posits an alternative origin of the black revolutionary woman ideal and, especially, her aesthetic longings which emerge during the era of Black Power in black girls’ upbringing. Robert J. Patterson’s “Nippy’s Blues: Whitney Houston, Neoliberalism, and Post-Racial Destructive Desires” exposes the libidinal and economic structures that produce pathologizing images of black women by examining moments in Whitney Houston’s career when her aesthetics, sexuality, and public image were tightly regulated. Continuing to think through sonic productions, in “‘A Universe of Silence’: Black Dispossession, the ‘Right to Quiet,’ and M. NourbeSe Philip’s Terrains of Silence, Petal Samuel examines how “right to quiet” rhetoric facilitates gentrification through claims to the soundscape as a form of white property; Afro-Tobagan-Canadian woman writer M. NourbeSe Philip contests these claims by depicting “silence” as yet another black territory that was occupied under colonialism. Lastly, Meina Yates-Richard focuses on the centrality of textual portrayals of black maternal figures’ voices—overlooked sites of testimony and liberation praxis—to texts ranging from Frederick Douglass (1845) to Junot Diaz (2007).
As part of the project of examining the rapport between emergency and emergence, this panel confronts how disciplines often stubbornly guard against emergent forms of study that respond to the ongoing exigencies of survival and representation for black women scholars, writers, and artists both within and without the academy. In all of these papers, we view aesthetics not merely as a set of minor stylistic decisions, but as rhetorical, analytical, and artistic strategies that express, reinforce, and resist the logics of racial, gender, and sexual hierarchies that generate and sustain canons and fields. We take seriously black women’s aesthetics, then, as freedom dreams and visions for more inclusive forms of study and community that challenge us to rethink the construct of the disciplinary “field” altogether.
Chair: Marlo Denice David, Purdue University
She Did Crawl Backwards ‘Til She Walked: On Punctuating Nola Darling, Musical Notation, and Enjoying the It You Cannot Have—I. Augustus Durham, University of Maryland-College Park
And That’s the Way It Was Planned: Toward a History of Post-War Black Girlhood—Janee Moses, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Nippy’s Blues: Whitney Houston, Neoliberalism, and Post-Racial Destructive Desires—Robert J. Patterson, Georgetown University
A Universe of Silence: Black Dispossession, the Right to Quiet, and M. Nourbese Philip’s Terrains of Silence—Petal Samuel, University of North Carollina at Chapel Hill
The Acoustic Aesthetics of Black Womanhood in/as Emergence/y: Black Maternal Soundings in Douglass, Ellison, Cliff, and Diaz—Meina Yates-Richard, Emory University
Black Feminist Poetics, Narratives, and Humor
Fri, November 9, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Twelfth, Piedmont 3 (Twelfth)
Chair: Victoria E. Thomas, University of Washington-Seattle Campus
Deliberate Design: Barbara Brandon, Black Feminism, and the American Comedic Tradition—Jalylah Burrell, Rice University
Lyric (Anti-)Blackness: Claudia Rankine’s Poetics of Mourning—Maurice A. Evers, University of Florida
Spectacular Black Space: Reconfiguring the Violence of the Digital on Black Girl (Counter)Narratives—Casidy Campbell, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric and Quotidian Discourses of Survival and Resistance—Rebecca L. Fussell, Michigan State University
Black in the Archive
Fri, November 9, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta G (Seventh)
Chair: Clark Barwick, Indiana University-Bloomington
Archival Skepticism and the (Im)possibilities of Recovering African Diaspora History—Adalaine Holton, Stockton University
Audre Lorde’s Emergeny Pedagogical Archives: From Black Studies to Deotha to Black Lives Matter—Conor Tomás Reed, CUNY Graduate School and University Center
Black Queer Emergencies: James Bladwin’s House and Digital Humanities Literacy—Magdalena J. Zaborowska, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Presidential Session: Visualizing Revolution: Building the Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver Family Archive
Fri, November 9, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain F (Sixth)
Scholars such as Saidiya Hartman and Marisa Fuentes have called into question the primacy of traditional archives in historical methodology. The narratives of the enslaved, the forgotten, and the subversive are excluded in spaces that privilege written, public (and often hegemonic) histories. This roundtable explores the historical, social, artistic, and pedagogical implications for building an archive around revolutionary figures who moved extensively in spaces that were underground, exiled, or otherwise under attack. What is the process of building an archive around stories that were not yet safe to be told? What does revolution look like in archival form? We focus on the emerging archive of lawyer, scholar, and former Black Panther Party leader, Kathleen Neal Cleaver.
Currently uncatalogued and residing in Kathleen Neal Cleaver’s home in Atlanta, Georgia, is a collection that consists of public and private correspondence, journals and other personal papers, court documents, audio recordings, 8mm film, photography, and various ephemera. The collection extensively covers the Cleavers’ period in the Black Panther Party, and especially of their time in exile in Algeria and France (1969-1975), during which they headed the International Section of the BPP (until their expulsion from the Party in 1971) and traveled throughout socialist Africa and Asia. It also includes fragile materials from the erudite Neal family, some dating back to 1890s Virginia; items documenting the afterlives of the Party and its participants, including documents from the court case of Geronimo Ji-Jaga Pratt, a Party member who spent 27 years in prison on false charges (Cleaver served as a member of his legal team); and correspondence and ephemera surrounding Eldridge Cleaver’s death in 1998.
The roundtable will focus especially on the substantial and delicate photographic component of the collection. At perhaps a few thousand images, the photographs include snapshots and formal portraits, contact sheets and family albums, made by professional photographers, amateurs and Cleaver herself; they also include posters, flyers, and book and magazine clippings and outtakes, and maybe a half dozen photo albums. The photographs date as far back as the 1890s, starting with two lithographic transfers of Cleaver’s great grandparents, and include a sizeable collection of the Neal and Johnson families. Along with some of the more famous images of the Black Panther Party are a host of others that have not circulated widely.
In archiving these materials Kathleen Cleaver has serendipitously gathered a team of visual culture scholars, photographers, filmmakers, students, and archivists based in Atlanta and across the country. This collaboration produces an historical narrative that up until this point has been documented through whispers in underground circles and collected and protected in private homes. Its relevance is all the more compelling in a contemporary time when revolutions, state repression, and community organizing across the U.S. and across the world have emerged anew.
Participants will briefly discuss their collaborative and ongoing work on this project before opening to a discussion, followed by audience q&a.
Chair: Leigh Raiford, University of California-Berkeley
Delphine Sims, University of California-Berkeley
Kathleen Cleaver, Emory University
John Stephens, Independent Scholar
Sierra King, Independent Scholar
Robin J. Hayes, Independent Scholar
Lia T. Bascomb, Georgia State University
Fri, November 9, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain I (Sixth)
Chair: James I. Deutsch, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Remembering Nuclear Legacies in Shinpei Takeda’s Antimonument—Alison Fields, University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus
Emerging Forms of Citizenship and the National Readymade in Contemporary Queens, New York—Andrea Quintero, Yale University
Sonic Trauma: The Sounds of Hope and Mourning in Charlottesville—Kimberly Williams, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Monumental Absences: The Public Sculptures of Augusta Savage, 1931-1943—Tess Korobkin, University of Maryland-College Park
International Committee Talkshop II: Transnational Teaching from Emergency to Emerging Projects
Fri, November 9, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta E (Seventh)
Transnational American Studies has from its beginnings been defined as an endeavor in both research and practice, in perspective and collaboration. Currently, oftentimes super-imposed institutional as well as political and social obstacles in the United States and abroad jeopardize not only academic freedoms but also the core ingredients of a truly transnational approach: Financial cuts endanger the physical mobility of scholars going to or coming from the US, the creation of concrete and actual meeting grounds for collaboration both in- and outside the US, and, ultimately, the multi-perspectivity and inclusion of diverse voices. Negative and contemptuous political and public attitudes devalue the benefits of research in and the teaching of cultural, political, social, and historical matters and, moreover, disregard the necessity of comparative and especially connective perspectives on nations, cultures, and areas that are not autonomous and homogeneous containers of identities but that interact and intersect with the world. Political and governmental realities in the Trumpian US as well as in other countries around the world such as Turkey or Hungary make both scholars and students hesitant to travel and stay in these environments.
These institutional, academic, and political ‘emergencies’ pose a threat to established forms of academic encounters among scholars and students: long-term exchanges of students and faculty coming to or from the US, conference travel, joint workshops and projects, face-to-face collaboration. Yet the gathering of, learning about, and conversation among diverse perspectives is essential and requisite not only for transnational approaches but, in general, for an American Studies that wishes and needs to define itself as an inclusive intervention against and powerful alternative to political and cultural processes and climates of contempt, discrimination, and silencing.
This series of International Committee talkshops debates, evaluates, and envisions emerging counter strategies that safeguard the mobility of scholars and knowledge both coming to and from the US in times of academic and political emergencies. The series brings together researchers, academic teachers, graduate students, administrators, and experts from related fields to discuss: How can, do, and will we ensure—for both students and scholars—the transnational encounters, exchanges, and collaborations necessary for an American Studies that values multi-perspectivity? How do scholars and administrations adapt established transnational endeavors and projects to make them fit for survival in these moments of institutional and political restrictions; or, how and whereto do they change their strategies? What are (practical) visions and emerging projects for the future?
Talkshop 1 of the series focuses on transnational research and collaborative research projects and networks, their (new) forms of (digital) collaboration, as well as existing options and strategies to ensure their funding.
Talkshop 2 centers on transnational teaching and on student exchanges and cooperation. It elaborates on (digital) formats of collaborative teaching, teaching ‘abroad’ in- and outside the US, and on new forms of student mobility.
Talkshop 3 illuminates issues of transnational editing and publishing and, moreover, discusses issues of availability of resources and (equal) access. It scrutinizes manifold (transnational) ways of bringing the outcome of research to the public.
Chair: Jeannette Eileen Jones, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Ben Chappell, University of Kansas
Isabel Duran, Universidad Compultense Madrid
Katharina Gerund, FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg
Frank Mehring, Radbound University
Jennifer Reimer, University of Graz,
Imani Wadud, University of Kansas
Questioning Platform Capitalism
Fri, November 9, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta F (Seventh)
Format: Roundtable, each panelist has 2 minutes to raise a question and 3 minutes for direct dialogue with audience and panelists. The majority of the time will be reserved for open dialogue following the “lightning round.”
Simultaneous digital participation on a shared, screened document will be arranged. Participants will post questions, comments, concerns and so forth in real time. These will be addressed as fully as possible in the large general discussion period. Panelists include established and emerging voices in equal proportion.
Ian Bogost,”What Were Cities?”
Geoffrey Clegg, “Where Are Neoliberal Dreams in Coding Bootcamps?”
Carolyn Elerding,”What Is Agency in the Era of Algorithms and Digital Labor?”
Sophia McClennen, “How Do Memes Matter?”
Heather Steffen, “Can Analytics Capture Academic Labor?”
Jeffrey J. Williams, “Universityism?”
Avery J. Wiscomb, “Platform Capitalism: Zombie, Vampire, or Grave-Digger?”
Chair: Carolyn Elerding, Wichita State University
Ian Bogost, Georgia Institute of Technology
Geoffrey Clegg, Midwestern State University
Sophia McClennen, Pennsylvania State University
Carolyn Elerding, Wichita State University
Heather Steffen, University of California-Santa Barbara
Jeffrey J. Williams, Carnegie Mellon University
Avery J. Wiscomb, Carnegie Mellon University
Students Committee: No Ban, No Paywall, Open Access for All: The Ethics of Open Access Publishing
Fri, November 9, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain J (Sixth)
Open access (OA) is the future of scholarly publishing and, more importantly, a moral and political imperative for a growing number of scholars committed to accountable and reciprocal research practices and knowledge-sharing. A basic definition of OA is the free, immediate, unrestricted, online access of peer-reviewed research and scholarly work. OA is also a means to collectively organize academic knowledge production away from the profit-motive to end the exploitation of academics and communities producing “free” research for publishers who monetize and sell that labor and knowledge with little to no returns to the researchers or communities themselves.
This panel draws from the insights of three editors from three major OA journals — Cultural Anthropology, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society, and Abolition Journal — as well as student perspectives from the ASA membership. Each discussant will give an overview of their work and publishing commitments to OA venues and projects. We also hope to spark a dialogue about the possibilities of moving the ASA’s flagship journal, American Quarterly, to an OA model.
Traditional academic publishing models have kept privileged access to research and knowledge behind expensive paywalls, inaccessible to a broad swath of the public and even to the very communities academic disciplines produce knowledge and research about. Such has also been the norm for imperial knowledge extraction for centuries. For example, salvage anthropology of the nineteenth century sought to “save” what were seen as “dying” cultures by locking away knowledge, lifeworlds, and sometime human beings themselves in archives, museums, and private collections for study by Western academics (a practice that was little more than outright theft). For-profit academic publishing is an archaic remnant of this practice and runs counter to more than half a century of anti-colonial scholarship and research methods aimed at repatriatring stolen lives and stolen knowledge. Put simply, as scholars dedicated to undoing imperial knowledge extraction and its legacies, we should be challenging rather than reproducing those practices in our own research and publishing practices.
Yet, scholars are expected to publish in ranked, peer-reviewed journals in their fields for tenure and promotion. This expectation often channels research behind paywalls. Likewise, scholars have been increasingly transformed into the ranks of a growing precariat, where academic jobs have become scarce and less secure, in many cases making promotion or tenure untenable options. Recognizing these conditions, more and more high-ranking journals as well as journals committed more to a radical reorientation of knowledge production are moving to OA models. For some, it isn’t just about the availability of research but rather how, why, for whom, and for what ends is that research produced.
Discussants will address these issues as well as the growing efforts to reorganize knowledge production towards more just ends. As the title of this panel suggests, OA is about more than the academy and resonates with abolitionist politics challenging our present era of mass bans on human beings and the walls constructed to reinforce unnatural hierarchies.
Chair: Nick W. Estes, The University of New Mexico
Nicholas D. Krebs, Washington State University
Melanie Yazzi, University of New Mexico-Main Campus
Jaskiran Dhillon, The New School
Rosie Uyola, Rutgers University-Newark
Dominic Boyer, Rice University
American Quarterly: American Studies, the Digital Humanities, and a Critically Engaged Digital Practice
Fri, November 9, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta 1 (Seventh)
The 2018 special issue of American Quarterly, “Toward a Critically Engaged Digital Practice: American Studies and the Digital Humanities,” explores digital humanities as a designation, as an associated constellation of technologies and practices, and as a site of convergence for interdisciplinary scholarship. Propelled by the ever-increasing power of computing and grounded in the ongoing development of a networked new media, digital humanities scholarship has coalesced around a shared set of values: that theory can be engaged through practice, that scholarship should be open and accessible to all, and that collaboration is pivotal. At the same time, American studies scholars in the digital humanities have renewed the important work of investigating cultural and political formations, excavating power relations, and expanding scholarly inquiry to encompass the everyday as much as the exceptional. With his special issue, we open a new phase of this discussion by overtly exploring the connections between critically engaged forms of American studies and the digital humanities. Such a special issue signals Digital Humanities emergence as central to the field’s praxis.
The roundtable will include six contributors who will discuss the scope of the special issue as well as opportunities and challenges when we expand the boundaries of a scholarly journal. Co-editor Matt Delmont will discuss the kind of DH that emerged from the American Studies community. He then will focus on the process of expanding the accepted formats in a scholarly journal with on a focus on assessing and including digital projects alongside “traditional” manuscripts. Two contributors of featured digital projects will offer their perspective on the review and revision process alongside briefly presenting their projects. One contributor of a manuscript will discuss their piece about the intersection of American Studies and DH Two contributors to the Forums will address the expansiveness of DH as well as institutional challenges for supporting an American Studies DH. The panel participants will be determined once the co-editors make final decisions about contributions, which should be by March 1. Each presenter will speak for 5-minutes followed by a conversation with panel attendees.
Chair: Lauren Tilton, University of Richmond
Matt Delmont, Arizona State University-Tempe
Maria Eugenia Cotera, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Jesse P. Karlsberg, Emory University
Genevieve Carpio, University of California-Los Angeles
Jack Gieseking, University of Kentucky
Secrecy, Transparency, and Power: Visual Methodologies for States of Emergency
Fri, November 9, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Eighth, Peachtree 1 (Eighth)
States of emergency often hinge on control over the visual field: surveillance, propaganda, disappearance, spectacle, censorship. Doubtless, these practices and their attendant violences demand critique. But a too-narrow focus on such technologies of state power risks accepting state visuality on its own terms, obscuring both the fissures embedded within it and the visualities that emerge to navigate and contest it. States of emergency are characterized by complex interplays of secrecy, transparency, and state power. Established methodologies for the study of visual culture have usefully mapped the centrality of the visual to the promotion and perpetuation of states of emergency. These methodologies, however, are less suitable for analyzing the often-contradictory cultural politics that have emerged with the rise of digital technologies and social media. This panel begins from the premise that the emergence of these technologies, and the resultant expansion of visual archives, demand innovative methodologies, and the papers illuminate new directions for critical engagement with visual states of emergency.
Anjali Nath’s paper examines the drafting of the 1966 Freedom of Information Act as a paradoxical visual politics of secrecy and transparency. The work of attending to seemingly “non-visual” archives queries the impacts of this epistemological shift to the visual for our understandings of state power and strategies for checking or delimiting it. Carrie Rentschler picks up on this question of shifting visual epistemologies in her study of bystander videos taken by non-professionals with their smart phones. She considers the complex efforts to control the ways in which these videos help to define social and legal irresponsibility and responsibility for social violence. Keith Feldman then turns to another emergent technology in his analysis of the use of “immersive” representational technology in journalism that promises to locate the viewer in sites of oppression, resistance, and humanitarian emergency, specifically a New York Times virtual reality piece about young Syrian refugees. He argues that excitement over the possibilities that new media can foster radical social and cultural political alternatives must be tempered by reckoning with narrative structures and visual technologies that reproduce US racializations and privilege the vantage points of distant viewers. While technologies like virtual reality promise spectators unprecedented access to sites of suffering and violence, Rebecca Adelman and Wendy Kozol ask what kinds of knowledge might be derived from images that expressly refuse to yield such information to their audiences. Adelman and Kozol reflect on the refusal of indexicality in Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin’s photographic installation “The Day Nobody Died,” and use their inscrutable scenes of war to derive an ‘asymptotic’ methodology for studying visual cultures of militarized violence. Even as these papers examine a diverse range of visual archives, they collectively provide a new accounting of the importance of visual practice and culture, locating the visual that can work to both sustain and destabilize states of emergency.
Chair: Wendy Kozol, Oberlin College
A Paper Tiger: American Cold War Bureaucracy and Visual Cultures—Anjali Nath, University of California-Davis
Technologies of Responsibility: Making Bystander Irresponsibility Visible in Social Media—Carrie Rentschler, McGill University
Against Immersion—Keith Feldman, University of California-Berkeley
An Asymptotic Approach to Visualizing War—Rebecca A. Adelman, University of Maryland-Baltimore County and Wendy Kozol, Oberlin College
The Aesthetics of White Supremacy: Visualizing the Racial Politics of Surveillance and Necropower
Fri, November 9, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Twelfth, Piedmont 3 (Twelfth)
“The Aesthetics of White Supremacy: Visualizing the Racial Politics of Surveillance and Necropower,” brings together scholars who contend that a deep understanding of the contemporary politics of neoliberal security regimes, white supremacy, racialization, and the politics of gende and sexuality requires attending to the performative, aesthetic, and affective aspects of state violence, necropower, and practices of racial identification and disidentification. To do this, each panelist engages an interdisciplinary body of scholarship that includes political theory, American studies, feminist and queer theory, African American political thought, literature, media, and performance studies. Building on the growing exploration of political life from an affective and aesthetic perspective, “The Aesthetics of White Supremacy” draws on a diverse array of thinkers and artists, including Fred Moton, Stefano Harney, Caren Kaplan, Eyal Wiezman, James Baldwin, Hortense Spillers, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ida B. Wells, Achille Mbembe, Harun Farocki, Laura Poitras, and Walid Raad. Each panelist explores how the practice of politics is produced not only through common interests and ideology but by a potent and uncertain combination of emotion, expression, and aesthetics — what Gilles Deleuze refers to as “collective assemblages of enunciation.”
By attending to the role of affect and the senses in political life, “The Aesthetics of White Supremacy” seeks to more fully understand the connection between aesthetic matters, state violence, and political judgment. Analyzing the differences and similarities between artistic creation and political action, these papers bring together innovative approaches to consider how “thinking aesthetically” enables a deeper understanding of the political perceptions, ideals, expectations, aspirations, and interests of racialized populations negotiate the modern homeland security state.
Chair: Sophie Bjork-James, Vanderbilt University
#BlackLivesMatter and Black Femicide—Shatema Threadcraft, Dartmouth College
Killing Aesthetics: Drone Warfare and the Art of Surveillance—Mark Reinhardt, Williams College
Life against Death in the Undercommons—George Shulman, New York University
Business Meeting: Digital Humanities Caucus
Fri, November 9, 4:00 to 6:00pm, Westin Peachtree, Twelfth, Piedmont 6 (Twelfth)
Session Submission Type: Special Events: Business Meeting
Sight and the Spoils of Empire
Fri, November 9, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta A (Seventh)
This panel explores crisis and the states of emergency and emergence in the visual archives of empire and settler colonialism. Through the lens of Asian-Indigenous relationalities, our panel explores how imperial and colonial technologies of visuality distort, erase, or neutralize: the death-making dynamics of resource extraction and atomic visual culture; racial accumulation and museum collecting; gendered automation and militarization; and the settler colonial coordinates of removal, deportation, and drone technology. By foregrounding the imperial and colonial technologies of visuality, this panel examines how crisis and the practices and regimes instituted to respond to this “state of emergency” are not only constituted through the visual field but also how resistant formations of “emergence”–and the possibilities of coalitions and conditions of relationality–are coded in the language visuality.
Chair: Jodi Kim, University of California-Riverside
On Atomic Beauty—Iyko Day, Mount Holyoke College
Knowledge Nullius and the Politics of Visual Cultural Methods—Maria Sarita See, University of California-Riverside
From Robots to Brain: Unsettling Trans-Pacific Techno-Orientalism through Asian Indigenous Connections in Karen Tei Yamashita’s Recent Works—Yu-Fang Cho, Miami University-Oxford
Technologies of Removal: Drones, Deportation, and Pipelines—Marie Lo, Portland State University
Visual Culture Caucus: Visual Images and Black Subjects in the Wake of Racial Slavery
Fri, November 9, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta B (Seventh)
This panel traces the significance of the visual and its technologies in representing various kinds of injury—including sexual, legal, medical, mobocratic, and figurative—that (re)emerged to circumscribe black life in the aftermath of formal emancipation from racial slavery in the United States. Panelists also deliberate on whether or how the visual and its mediating apparatuses condition the possibility of bringing impaired black subjects’ interiorities to the surface. Such labors of recovery are deeply constrained given the heavy weight of optic frames and habits of seeing that often submerge outraged blackness, particularly black womanhood, beneath the veils of inviolability, impersonality, and/or invisibility. A conceptual link threading each presentation is Saidiya Hartman’s formulation of “the afterlife of slavery.” Hartman’s concept foregrounds the encumbrances that patriarchal and capitalist white racial domination systematically inflicted upon black subjects under bondage. These burdens rematerialized in the institution’s wake. They include premature loss of life, carceral punishment, sexual inviolability, economic privation, civil death, limited opportunities, and other structural liabilities that black people experience to a sharply uneven degree. Each panelist interrogates how different resurgences of that afterlife ghost and govern the content, production context, exposure, and viewing of visual images like silhouettes, photographs, broadsides, and films. Our explicit concern is with images that picture or put before the mind’s eye black subjects impaired by violence or medical disability under white racism. We also reflect on how such visual media often formally reproduce the shock, terror, titillation, and other sensations evoked by the originary inflictions and initial displays of the injuries that they render. In this sense, those visual media are also afterimages of racial slavery’s afterlives. That is, they visually depict a ruinous history whose sensory force lingers or reappears long after its stimulus seemingly has been abolished. Further, in probing the fraught fidelities between imaged injury and interior life, panelists also critically situate our scholarly work in relation to what Courtney R. Baker calls “humane insight.” Humane insight is an ethics of beholding images of black bodily pain, suffering, disability, and death that keeps in view the personhood that often recedes beneath depictions of brutality. Some of the questions that we attempt to address in this regard include: How does one bear witness to the visual forces that both elide and enable—often simultaneously—the archival emergence of violated historical black persons? Can impaired black photographic and filmic subjects use their embodied disabilities as the basis for bodily dissent against the commodifying gazes of racial and patriarchal capitalism? What kinds of looking practices and methodologies might permit one to exhume glimpses of the interior lives buried beneath overwhelming images of monstrous spectacles?
Chair: Kimberly Juanita Brown, Mount Holyoke College
Afterimages: Racial Slavery and the Emergent Post-Emancipation Politics of Spectability in the Antebellum North—Patricia Ann Lott, Ursinus College
Visualizing the Record: Black Women’s Archival Emergence in Kara Walker’s Bureau of Refugees—Jennifer DeClue, Smith College
On Millie-Christine McKoy and the Emergent Frame(Up) of Archival Plenitude—Nicole N. Ivy, George Washington University
Trans-Cyberian States of Emergency: Race, Gender, and Disability in Digital Trans Studies
Fri, November 9, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain H (Sixth)
In 1998, Stephen Whittle’s article “The Trans-Cyberian Mail Way” argued that “cyberspace” permitted the emergence of a new minority identity called “transgender.” The commercial Internet enabled modes of connection between people with shared experiences, and forged new ways of imagining community and gender. Twenty years later, the Internet has transformed trans social life. However, the technologies that have enabled these connections also reproduce forms of vulnerability and marginalization along racialized, ableist, and gendered lines.
This panel will reflect on the Internet as a space of connection, contestation, and exploitation for trans and gender non-conforming subjects. Through ethnographic and analytic approaches to a variety of objects– among them, anti-vaccine and anti-trans blogs, the technology of facial recognition software, and digitized images from medical journals– presenters will discuss the power of digital technologies to both disrupt and produce trans political worlds. These papers examine a range of “states of emergence,” from the political economy of gender non-conformity and risk; to the co-emergence of ableism with transphobia; to the violence that building and expanding the Internet can do to the most marginal trans community members. Together, panelists will grapple with the contradictions of trans digital life, animating critique out of the contradiction between the Internet as a site of trans identity emergence and the Internet as a technology of power and oppression.
Chair: Jack Gieseking, University of Kentucky
The Last Group It’s Politically Correct to Dump On: Trans Whiteness on the Early Internet—Cassius Adair, Virginia Humanities
A Critical Look at Trans Research in Increasingly Open Access Environments—Zack Marshall, McGill University
Cisgender Ableist Cyber-Romanticisms: Stories Told by Autism Epidemic and Transgender Epidemic Bloggers—Zahari Zachary Richter, George Washington University
The Archive as Time Capsule: World-Making with Octavia E. Butler
Fri, November 9, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Eighth, Peachtree 1 (Eighth)
When the great speculative fiction writer Octavia E. Butler passed away in 2006, she left behind a vast quantity of material that Huntington Library archivist Natalie Russell, following Butler’s own organizing schemas whenever possible, spent years sorting into more than 350 boxes before the collection was opened to researchers in 2013. Butler coined the word HistoFuturist to describe herself as a memory worker and “historian who extrapolates from the human past and present as well as the technological past and present.” In our Butler-inspired projects of the last few years, each of us has tried, together and separately, to activate possibilities for world-making and shaping change that Butler left behind for us, by working in the archives, creating art and scholarship, and extending the conversation to larger communities.
First, each of us will talk briefly about how Butler’s archive opens up possibilities for shaping change in our present and future. Moya Bailey uses Digital Humanities methods to bring Butler’s insights about gender, sexuality, and race to broader publics. Ayana Jamieson is the founder of the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network, a digital hub that connects artists, activists, scholars, and others. She is the prime mover of many Butler-focused collective social justice projects and is currently writing Butler’s biography. Cassandra Jones writes about Butler’s visions of memory, resistance, and liberation and also about the “intentional communities” formed around Butler’s work that have emerged in recent years. EllaMaria Ray makes clay quilts and masks inspired by Butler’s writings, especially Parable of the Sower. Connie Samaras has created a new body of work, The Past is Another Planet, where selections from the Octavia E. Butler archive are overlaid in-camera over relevant sections of the Huntington Gardens. Shelley Streeby situates Butler as a major intellectual of climate change and talks about her current project on how Butler imagines education otherwise. Melanie West was the 2015 Octavia E. Butler scholar at Clarion and is currently completing her PhD in the Ethnic Studies Department at UCSD, doing archival research on Butler’s Clarion stories and writing and publishing stories of her own inspired by Butler.
Next, we will discuss the possibilities and challenges involved in efforts to push the questions raised by Butler’s archive and work into different spaces outside the confines of the Huntington Library and other elite institutions. All of us have incorporated Butler’s writings and archival memory-work into many different kinds of projects, and we will offer examples that connect the archive to world-making efforts to shape change in our present. We will also discuss our efforts to widen access through other methods such as Digital Humanities work and in organizing, art, teaching, and the co-creation of public events within and beyond the walls of the academy.
Chair: Shelley Streeby, University of California-San Diego
Ayana Jamieson, Pasadena City College
Cassandra L. Jones, University of Cincinnati
EllaMaria Ray, Metropolitan State University of Denver
Connie Samaras, University of California-Irvine
Shelley Streeby, University of California-San Diego
Melanie West, University of California-San Diego
Saturday, November 10
Digital Humanities Caucus: Digital Shorts
Sat, November 10, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta 1 (Seventh)
Session Submission Type: Non-Paper Session: Performative Format
The Digital Humanities Caucus proposes an open roundtable session of five-minute “lightning talks” calling on conference attendees to present their newest digital projects, updates on digital works in progress, or related digital work. This innovative format creates an open space for all to contribute and collaborate, and it has been a successful feature of the DH Caucus sponsored panel lineup for many years.
We will circulate a call for participants (via Twitter, H-AmStdy, the ASA website, and various email lists) before the conference. Once we have a lineup, we will organize the presentations into a logical progression, prepare a handout with the list of projects and presenter information to share with attendees, and allow for additional presentations from the floor. In recent years, presentations by some twenty participants have prompted conversations extending well beyond the formal session. Presenters range from senior faculty to new graduate students covering a range of topics and projects including digital archiving, data mapping, pedagogy, online publication, public history, digital social justice, and digital humanities tools.
The conveners of the session will work hard to ensure that the presenters are representative both of the ASA’s membership and of the breadth of digital projects currently in progress.
Although any project is welcome to the podium, we plan to focus our call this year on projects that engage the conference’s theme of “States of Emergence.” While DH has always had a strong emphasis on addressing current and historical crises within the US and the world, its application within the American Studies community takes on a particularly activist edge. We seek projects that interrogate structural systems of power as they impact marginalized groups affected by states of emergency and crisis. Projects can be either historically grounded or forward-looking; each should consider how digital media, methodologies, and technologies can create visions of radical, alternative worlds. Following on the heels of “Pedagogies of Dissent,” we hope continue our tradition of turning DH toward social justice and radical dissent through our open call.
Session conveners will moderate the session, enforcing a five minute maximum for all presentations, reserving time for discussion of issues the presentations raise, and facilitating that discussion at the end of the session. We will claim a hashtag #dhasa2018 to encourage online discussions during and after the panel session and conference.
This session’s lightning talk format incorporates elements central to digital humanities practice, from a Web 2.0 “wisdom of the crowd” sensibility, to the quickly changing nature of digital projects which don’t lend themselves to the ASA’s longer time-line for paper proposals. This model for scholarly communication offers the field of American studies new opportunities for forging from-the-bottom-up ways of making knowledge.
Chair: Jeannette Eileen Jones, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Emergence in the Archive: Cultural Heritage in Theory and Practice
Sat, November 10, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta A (Seventh)
Session Submission Type: Non-Paper Session: Dialogue Format
This roundtable considers cultural heritage institutions as sites of emergence, from curation and the production of scholarship, to the silences and erasures revealed within collections. Triangulating theory, practice, and experience, this roundtable brings together scholars and practitioners to address the illusion of permanence cultural heritage institutions create. Archives and museums are historically and materially contingent, and yet are also liminal sites of futurity. Indeed, the worth of collections is measured in part by their scholarly value and potentiality in the knowledge economy.
Carlson introduces this roundtable within a speculative, theoretical framework of cultural heritage as an institution emerging from legacies of racial capitalism. Participants Jessica Lu, Kenvi Phillips, and Gails Sims consider value and ownership as tenants that plague discussions of how cultural heritage is created and what it should do. The fundamental limit of the archive is structural, as Laura Helton note that scholars face, “the impossibility of recovery when engaged with archives whose very assembly and organization occlude certain historical subjects” they seek to recover. Archives and museums are recovery projects, building collections of disparate materials to establish a coherent narrative. Yet cultural heritage institutions also erase that which hegemonies deem irregular through collections management, description and data curation, and outreach and access.
We thus unravel from the structures of institutions and collections to emerging practices and theories of the field that attempt to reframe cultural heritage as both that which has been collected and not. Gaila Sims shares perspectives from museum studies, discussing the Whitney Plantation Museum as a site of memory and reformation, reframing conceptions of the role of the plantation in memorializing and presenting the history of slavery, and consider historical sites/memorials that create interactive spaces of public memory.
This roundtable emphasizes new frontiers of instruction and access, as well as the critical role of digital humanities while examining issues of race, community, and recordkeeping in digital spaces. Collections document complicated genealogies of race, gender, class, ethnicity, and education, intersections that Kenvi Phillips addresses in her work as Curator of Race and Ethnicity at the Schlesinger Library. Jessica Lu shares the African American History, Culture, and Digital Humanities program at University of Maryland as an example of emerging projects and pedagogies engaging critical race and gender studies in design and approach. These projects ground the work of cultural heritage in social justice, equity, access, and radical community engagement that resist the crisis of scholarship and intellectual equity.
Addressing pedagogy and outreach, theory and practice, and curation and digital humanities, this session will be of interest to scholars deeply engaged in archives and museums, cultural criticism and critical race studies, digital humanities, and public memory.
A speculative, theoretical groundwork of cultural heritage as an institution emerging from legacies of racial capitalism grounds this discussion, considering value and ownership as tenants that plague discussions of how cultural heritage is created and what it should do. As Laura Helton identifies, the fundamental limit of the archive is structural, noting that scholars face, “the impossibility of recovery when engaged with archives whose very assembly and organization occlude certain historical subjects” they seek to recover. Archives and museums are themselves recovery projects, building collections of disparate materials to establish a coherent narrative. Yet cultural heritage institutions also erase that which hegemonies deem irregular through collections management, description and data curation, and outreach and access.
We thus unravel from the structures of institutions and collections to emerging practices and theories of the field that attempt to reframe cultural heritage as both that which has been collected and not. Reference and outreach, for example, provide opportunity to present collections as incomplete while highly generative, encouraging new engagement and production of narratives heretofore unrepresented. As such, this roundtable emphasizes new frontiers of archival instruction and access, as well as the critical role of digital humanities projects while examining issues of race, community, and recordkeeping in digital spaces. We find in collections complicated genealogies of race, gender, class, ethnicity, and education. Emerging projects and pedagogies engaging critical race and gender studies in design and approach challenge us to to ground the work of cultural heritage in social justice, equity, access, and radical community engagement that resist the crisis of scholarship and intellectual equity.
Further, we cannot ignore the state of emergency for cultural heritage in this political climate. The potential defunding of libraries, archives, and museums across the country is in response and aversion to the political urgency the archive engenders. US cultural heritage institutions are at once legacies of disenfranchisement and erasure, while also incubators for emerging voices that have long been silenced and marginalized. We will discuss the Whitney Plantation Museum as a site of memory and reformation, reframing conceptions of the role of the plantation in memorializing and presenting the history of slavery, and consider historical sites/memorials that create interactive spaces of public memory.
Addressing pedagogy and instruction, theory and practice, and digital humanities in cultural heritage institutions, this session will be of interest to scholars deeply engaged in archives and museums, cultural criticism and critical race studies, digital humanities, and public memory.
Chair: Sarah Carlson, The University of Texas at Austin
Gaila Sims, The University of Texas at Austin
Kenvi Phillips, Harvard University
Sarah Carlson, The University of Texas at Austin
Public Space As/In States of Emergence
Sat, November 10, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Twelfth, Piedmont 2 (Twelfth)
Session Submission Type: Paper Session: Traditional Format
Globally, public space faces a state of emergency with its continued privatization and new schemes of expropriation and enclosures. These spaces, however, also function as sites of emergence of community organizing in response to precarious conditions under the domain of neoliberal global capitalism. Beginning in the mid-21st century, understandings of public space shifted from an expectation of state management to the private realm, where state responsibility is outsourced to corporate partnerships and community initiatives. This shift continues to redefine contours of public space and the publics they serve. The public realm has become one of the major battlegrounds of the new era. Correspondingly, engagements with public spaces that take the form of collective protest, art, or land use, demonstrate that the politics of public space engender new modes of resistance and cultural production.
This panel is concerned with the duality of emergence and emergency as located in public space, broadly conceived, with regards to particular geographies, and its reconceptualizations through technology and digital spaces.
Anne Marie Butler examines how a communal art project in a public space, “El Mural de los Trabajadores Agricolas,” facilitates dialogue between undocumented communities, allies, and residents in rural regions. Addressing political performance as a means of resistance to patriarchal economic relationships, Ana Grujić discusses the 2015 #SayHerName protests in Oakland. Grujić reflects on the effects of the protesters’ choice to contextualize contemporary anti-black politics in the U.S. within transnational and transhistorical trajectories of black and Native women’s exploitation, and their performative practices of resistance. She traces the ways their remapping of the geographies of labour, struggle, and desire instantiates at the sites of violence, political communities whose practices puncture the totalizing fabric of the here and now. Lisa Daily, interrogates Deep Empathy, an augmented reality project, which was created as a collaboration between MIT Media Lab, UNICEF Innovation, and Scalable Cooperation. Daily argues that these types of virtual and augmented reality projects meant to evoke empathy with distant sufferers of destructive violence, raise a set of ethical questions: What is the actual goal of the ‘empathy machine,’ or ‘empathy arms race’ engaged by international humanitarian organizations? Instead of inciting spectators to charitable action, do projects like these enable a safe experience of a catastrophe for an affluent spectator? Finally, Basak Durgun examines the emergence of collective urban gardening in Istanbul, and how it has reappropriated and transformed public space, shifted experiences to urban nature, and developed new social networks. Community gardens in Istanbul exist in a grid of right to the city and environmental activism. At the same time, state institutions have effectively reappropriated the communal dynamism of collective gardening to establish political legitimacy. This active tension brings to the forefront the questions of what defines public space and which publics they serve. Overall, this panel opens up a newer discussion about public space as a site of emergence as well as a battleground with shifting modes of resistance and cultural production.
Chair: Rebecca Amato, New York University
Anne Marie E Butler: Public Space Is Community Space: The El Mural De Los Trabajadores Agricolas Project and the Politics of Undocumented Visibility in Rural Western New York
Ana Grujic: Shrines on the Road: Performative and Digital Remapping of Black Geographies
Lisa Daily: The Empathy Arms Race: Re-Imagining Cities through Augmented Disaster
Basak Durgun: Transforming Public Space through Collective Gardening in Istanbul
Teaching through Terror #Charlottesville
Sat, November 10, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Twelfth, Piedmont 1 (Twelfth)
Session Submission Type: Non-Paper Session: Dialogue Format
In keeping with the conference theme “States of Emergence,” this roundtable will focus on what it means to teach through the recent emergence of extreme cases of white terrorism, as in the events of August 11-12, 2017, in Charlottesville, VA, as well as a long history of white supremacy built into (literally in the case of the University of Virginia) many colleges and universities. Further, we consider what pedagogical and intellectual strategies have emerged to combat white supremacy and how they have changed not only what we teach but how we teach it.
Our roundtable participants represent a range of ranks and include two faculty members from the University of Virginia who were “on the ground” and remain at the forefront of curricular development as well as organizing and activism at UVA and in the broader Charlottesville community.
Our other participants teach at a range of institutions of different sizes and missions–a small private liberal arts college, a private research university, and an urban public university–but all center the liberal arts. Despite their differences, these institutions also have particular history related to the structures of white supremacy, even if they in some way challenge those structures. Further, by considering how different institutions with varying student bodies and relationships to the surrounding community are similar to and different from each other, we will also consider what strategies and structures are fungible, and which are bound to a particular place.
We will structure our roundtable around a number of questions:
What are the liberal arts meant to produce in the 21st century?
What does it mean to teach through terror?
Who are our students?
How has our teaching changed in the wake of Charlottesville?
What does it mean to teach through terror at the University of Virginia? At land-grant institutions, at majority-white institutions?
Given higher education’s close ties to white supremacist thought, can students and faculty function as “thieves” of the university, in Fred Moten and Stefano Harney’s words? To what degree are they bound by its structures, including its structures of knowledge?
How does white supremacy, as manifested at colleges and universities, relate to other systems of stratification, such as those that immiserate service workers at universities and drive gentrification?
In this session, we aim to share the experience and expertise of those “on the ground” to particularize terror and understand its generalized working; to present new ideas about teaching through terror, offering concrete examples of assignments and fresh approaches to teaching; to discuss the ethical considerations of teaching through terror; and to bring the session audience into conversation with roundtable participants and thus to create community.
In his response to Walter Benjamin, Bhabha suggests that “the state of emergency is also always a state of emergence.” In the wake of Charlottesville, we hope to show a way through Benjamin’s rubble of history so that we, as teachers and students, can reach, together, in Hortense Spillers’s words, an “outcome on the other side of disaster.”
Chair: Daylanne English, Macalester College
Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman, Brown University
Daylanne English, Macalester College
Laura E Goldblatt, University of Virginia
Renee Hudson, University of Massachusetts-Boston
Lisa Woolfork, University of Virginia
Program Committee: NO! The Rape Documentary in the Age of #Metoo
Sat, November 10, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain 1 (Sixth)
Session Submission Type: Non-Paper Session: Dialogue Format
2017 was popularly deemed “the year of the silence breakers” as marked by the viral #MeToo campaign. Though 2017 marked a moment of renewed visibility and attention paid to sexual violence survivors, Black feminist work to end sexual violence predates the recent explosion of #metoo. In fact, Black feminist activist Tarana Burke founded the #MeToo movement in 2006, the same year that NO! The Rape Documentary was released. Produced, written, and directed by Aishah Shahidah Simmons over a period of 12-years, NO! The Rape Documentary is an internationally acclaimed, feature length film that explores the international atrocity of heterosexual rape and other forms of sexual assault through the first-person testimonies, scholarship, spirituality, activism, and cultural work of Black people in the United States. Subtitled in Spanish, French, and Portuguese, NO! also explores how rape is used as a weapon of homophobia. During this roundtable, we discuss the importance of this groundbreaking film as one of the many unnamed origin points of “the year of the silence breakers.” How has the Black feminist creation and leadership of the #MeToo movement worked to bring a necessary visibility to the epidemic of sexual violence? How has the whitewashing of #MeToo functioned to distort a genealogy of the labor of Black women and Black feminists who have been working to end sexual violence decades before the hashtag? What do we need to do to ensure that the work continues? In this roundtable, scholars, organizers, and artists respond to NO! and dialogue with the filmmaker.
Chair: Kai M Green, Williams College
Terrion Williamson, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Savannah Shange, University of California-Santa Cruz
Ahmad Greene-Hayes, Princeton University
Aishah Shahidah Simmons, University of Pennsylvania
Sound Studies Caucus: Listening to Race: Black and Brown Voice-Overs and Accents on Television and Film
Sat, November 10, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta C (Seventh)
Session Submission Type: Paper Session: Traditional Format
This panel examines the various forms sound racializes bodies and space in media. Specifically, how language and musical choices in the production of animated film and television shows send complicated messages about the racial and ethnic communities featured on screen. By listening to linguistic “accents” of characters, voiceover performances, silences, and songs each panelist offers different perspectives on the important role sound plays in their respective media texts. Through their research, the panelists remind viewers of media to listen closely to the scripted words and musical choices of fictional characters and their settings. Together each of these papers highlights the interdiciplinarity of sound studies and media studies, but most importantly the different ways sounds via language play and music cue listeners to the implicit and explicit racial content of the text.
Shilpa Davé analyzes the variety of sounds in Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang’s original comedy Master of None. Her paper “Accents and Global New York in Netflix’s Master of None,” examines the shows focus on race and immigration based on the silences and voices of the characters. New York City, as the show’s backdrop, becomes the exemplary American city through the immigrant stories heard on screen.
Jade Petermon examines the different forms gentrification appears in the sounds of the comedy series Insecure. In Petermon’s “Insecure Spaces: Soundscapes of Gentrification,” she argues that by examining the soundtrack of HBO’s critically acclaimed show it gives viewers a different message about race and gentrification in Los Angeles than the visual directives represented in the series.
Jennifer Bloomquist investigates the messages children receive from racialized sound. In her paper, “Donkeys and Dragons. Word. What Children learn about Blackness from Animated Film,” Bloomquist argues that animated film has and continues to exploit the use of African American English (AAE) voices. This paper analyzes the racialized implications of giving life to animated characters with sounds that continue to stereotype African American communities.
Lastly, Sara Veronica Hinojos explores the sonic trope of animated Mexican men. In Hinojos’ “Sonic Legacies of Mexican Animated Villains,” she analyzes the Spanish inflected English voiceover performances of Mexican villains that portray Mexican men as dangerous, illiterate, and laughable characters.
Our chair and commentator Dolores Inés Casillas brings an interdisciplinary critical perspective to each paper. Her vast research on the racial politics of language and popular culture provides essential insight on each paper’s unique argument that pushes the boundaries of sound in media and ethnic studies.
Chair: Priscilla Peña Ovalle, University of Oregon
Shilpa Davé: Accents and Global New York in Netflix’s Master of None
Jade D Petermon: Insecure Spaces: Soundscapes of Gentrification
Jennifer Collins Bloomquist: Donkeys and Dragons: What Children Learn about Blackness from Animated Film
Sara Veronica Hinojos:Sonic Legacies of Mexican Animated Villains
Conversations in the Feminist Public Humanities: Concepts, Nuts and Bolts, and New Publics
Sat, November 10, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Peachtree, Twelfth, Piedmont 1 (Twelfth)
Session Submission Type: Non-Paper Session: Workshop Format
This panel puts four public humanities projects into conversation with one another, and with the audience. All of them pursue broad missions that combine political diagnosis, alternative history making, and culture creation of new worlds in the present. They offer examples of active partnerships between universities and non-university publics who are doing the work now to think political crisis alongside better worlds – the focus of ASA’s 2018 meeting.
The workshop aims to teach what we know, share what we are trying to figure out, and to reflect on how feminist public humanities projects might support one another and collaborate (we have some history of cross-project aid). Panelists envision discussion about conceptual and political frames specific to each project in addition to a “nuts and bolts” interactive exchange about skills conducive to public-facing work. The very substantial archival work of both the Women Who Rock Project (WWR), and the Chicana Por Mi Raza Digital Memory Collective (CPMR), will offer ambitious models and food for thought. Still relatively early in its development, the Institute for Women Surfers (IWS) provides a platform for an emerging coalition of diverse activists who increasingly do their work under the umbrella of “women’s surf movements.” Fingerprints and Landscapes, part of an ongoing public history and public art project, explores community building through memory work, music making, and art creation, in the Yakima Valley. Learning from and encouraging the audience toward its own particular publics is an additional aim.
- how to understand “feminism” and “feminist collaboration?”
- skill sets (from small to large, including social media and FaceBook, Curation, filmmaking, music making and art, Digital Archives, Scalar, Omeka & Clowder tools)
- seeking and offering resources (of labor, thinking, money, time)
- integration into university curricula/neighborhoods
- building communities/direct action translations
- place-making, political geographies, translocal/transregional grassroots democracy
Chair: Krista Comer
Linda Garcia Merchant, Instructor & PhD Student, Chicana/Latina Literary and Cultural Studies, Digital Humanities, Department of English, University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
Michelle Habell-Pallán, Associate Professor of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, University of Washington; Co-Director, UW Libraries Women Who Rock: Making Scenes, Building Communities Archive
Krista Comer, Professor of English, Rice University; Director, The Institute for Women Surfers
Yesenia Navarrete Hunter, USC, PhD Candidate History.
Eva Cherniavsky’s Neocitizenship: Political Culture after Democracy
Sat, November 10, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta 1 (Seventh)
Session Submission Type: Non-Paper Session: Dialogue Format
This roundtable is organized as an engagement with Eva Cherniavsky’s recently published book, Neocitizenship: Political Culture after Democracy (2017), which asks what the evisceration of modern democratic institutions under contemporary neoliberal rule signifies for the practice of political subjectivity we call citizenship and for the work of cultural critique. Reading neoliberal governance both with and against some of its major theorists (such as Wendy Brown), Cherniavsky tracks the way the state has shed the “burden” of performing an array of cultural practices dedicated to norming a democratic citizenry (such as the imposition of the forms and protocols of deliberative reason or the socialization of shared values through the dissemination of official histories and cultural canons). For Cherniavsky, these transformations raise important questions for the work of cultural criticism, especially as the most influential critical inheritances of the twentieth-century have centered our attention on contesting the deeply subjectifying force of the normative function of culture. From this inheritance, critique has been understood to generate its greatest intervention through defamiliarization and disclosure, such that the defining aspiration of critique has been to unmake this readable world. But what, Cherniavsky asks, are the aims and aspirations of critique when the interests of the ruling social fractions are most aptly served by decomposing the social body, not by conscripting our participation in a normative world view? As we transit from modern democratic institutions to the surveillance state, Cherniavsky observes, the struggle is no longer for hearts and minds, but for data sets: polling numbers, surveillance footage, browser histories, and the further reams of information that can be assembled into so many profiles of public proclivities and public menace. The public called forth from the data streams is, in her estimation, perfectly unreal, as in the political terrain in which popular sovereignty has come to be disinvested.
The provocative claim of Neocitizenship, then, is that political power now operates through derealization, a transformation which raises urgent and still largely unanswered questions for a Left critical tradition grounded in the value of defamiliarization, writeability, and anti-realism. Engaging the book’s concern with the changing organization of political power and governance as well as the implications of this change for the practice of dissent and the work of critique, panelists will consider a range of questions, including: in a media scape of de-referentialized assertions and “alternative facts,” how do we avoid retreating into the defense of truth claims and of deliberative reason? What constitutes resistance to forms of political power that operate through surveillance and policing, rather than through cultural imposition? In what ways are the lines between culture and politics redrawn in the present moment, as venues and contexts for self-fashioning become promising new arenas of political practice for imagining new forms of subjectivity and agency? What might our answers to these questions imply for how to push back against the insecurity and the devaluation of our teaching and research in the market-driven university?
Chair: Robyn Wiegman, Duke University
Nick Mitchell, University of California-Santa Cruz
Inderpal Grewal, Yale University
Chris Newfield, University of California, Santa Barbara
Eva Cherniavsky, University of Washington-Seattle Campus
Labor and the Body: Theorizing the Racialized Production of Gender from Antislavery Campaigns to #MeToo
Sat, November 10, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Peachtree, Sixth, Chastain D (Sixth)
Session Submission Type: Paper Session: Traditional Format
This panel considers the body as a site of crisis and contestation. We are particularly interested in the emergence of the gendered and racialized body through labor; in the four proposed papers, we theorize the relationship between gender, race, and labor by considering contexts which illuminate how ideas about gender and race define which activities are understood to have productive value, and what laborious activity is effaced. We also examine how the state and the market converge to set the terms through which labor becomes a gendered activity and, more subtly, how gender itself is a kind of compulsory labor. The sites we examine illustrate how gender is always in a state of emergency, a bodily production that is policed under threat.
Starting with the formidable intellectual work of Frances Watkins Harper, Koritha Mitchell analyzes the way the famed orator and prolific writer offers a critical theorization of work. Harper contested the terms of her gendering and racialization by calling attention to the work that she and other women performed, and she refused the discursive and political erasure of that work by naming the role of the state in trying to rob her of the means to labor productively. As Mitchell argues, Harper’s work draws our attention to the discursive and structural dimensions of gendered and racialized labor as constant sites of contestation. Such contestation is also the subject of Ariana Vigil’s essay, which looks at representations of migrant mothers as they reshape the gendered and racialized terms through which the figure of the immigrant laborer is constructed. These representations, Vigil argues, reveal how in our current state of emergency, anti-immigrant sentiment is organized around the figurative image of the immigrant and little attention paid to the political economy of migration and its relation to capitalist exploitation. Self-representations become a means by which migrant mothers contest the gendered and racialized nature of their exploitation and insist on its international framework. Toby Beauchamp continues the focus on gender and labor at a site of international crisis. Drawing on transgender and disability studies, his essay examines the TSA Cares program, asking how the airport screening tasks function as a kind of care work involving both the paid labor of software scans and pat downs and the unpaid social labor of managing passengers with “special circumstances” to integrate them into the concrete terms of biopolitical management. Through the discourse of “care,” TSA agents hone the tools of the security state by incorporating bodies that might otherwise resist or trouble its capacities of surveillance. Lastly, Meg Wesling analyzes the #MeToo movement as a sign of emergency and a site of emergence. Her essay looks to theorize gender as a form of compulsory labor and examines the discussion of workplace harassment as site for the production of the gendered subject of capital. This debate exposes a state of emergency in the relation between gender, race, and work and offers possibilities for the emergence of new terms of embodiment as resistant political forms.
Chair: Stephanie S Li, Indiana University-Bloomington
Koritha Mitchell – Why Americans Know Frederick Douglass but Not Frances Harper
Ariana Vigil – Gendered Labor in an Immigrant Context
Toby Beauchamp – TSA Cares: Gender, Disability, and Security as Care Work
Meg Wesling – The Labor of Gender: Crisis, Contestation, and #MeToo
Digital Humanities Caucus: Mapping Sweet Auburn: Geo-Locating Atlanta’s Spaces of Black Crisis and Emergence Through Digital Humanities Making
Sat, November 10, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta A (Seventh)
Session Submission Type: Non-Paper Session: Professional Development Format
This professional development session pairs discussion of panelists’ careers at the intersection of American studies and the digital humanities with a workshop to build a mobile phone-based walking tour of Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood, a geographical location integral to Atlanta’s history of black emergence, resistance, and negotiation of power and degradation. Our session highlights the diverse realities of digital humanities work and channels the geographical specificity of cultural and institutional formations of black crisis and resistance in Atlanta into the production of a tool for local activism. Participants will practice methods and models for collaboration enabling them to undertake projects melding digital humanities tools and American studies scholarship in their own communities.
Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood emerged in the twentieth century as “the richest Negro street in the world” (Fortune 1956) as black Atlantans sought safety through coalescence after the violence of the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot. A center of black capitalism—home to Atlanta’s first black-owned life insurance company, radio station, and a number of newspapers, businesses, churches, and social clubs—Sweet Auburn sustained a uniquely persistent black middle and upper class despite tremendous obstacles. Urban renewal and post-desegregation disinvestment led to degradation and outmigration. Today, Atlanta’s cross-racial business and political elite draws on a rhetoric of economic development and tourism to rehabilitate the neighborhood. Meanwhile, activist groups work to facilitate the emergence of a Sweet Auburn neighborhood that addresses continuing crises of homelessness and disinvestment, while drawing on the neighborhood’s history to emphasize how race is refracted across the contemporary cityscape.
This session gathers American Studies Association attendees to help create a mobile tour of the Sweet Auburn neighborhood for Civil Bikes, an activist group that leads bike and walking tours critically engaging the city’s civil rights geographies. The tour will expand Civil Bikes’s capacity to engage Atlantans and visitors to the city in conversations around race, power, and the history of the Sweet Auburn neighborhood. Building the tour during the session will afford participants a hands-on experience in digital humanities making. Session attendees will use their laptops and mobile phones to build a mobile tour of the neighborhood using the Open Tour Builder application drawing on data curated by session panelists drawing on Civil Bikes’s walking tour of Sweet Auburn. Open Tour Builder is an open source software platform developed by the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship for building interactive geospatial tours incorporating multimedia content that are optimized for mobile devices. Building a mobile version of Civil Bikes’s Sweet Auburn tour will offer participants a collective experience of digital humanities making.
The session’s panelists occupy varied positions at the intersection of American Studies and Digital Humanities. Including tenured and tenure-track faculty, librarians, digital scholarship staff, and activists, the panelists will briefly discuss how they have come to the collaborative digital scholarly production featured in this session through diverse professional tracks.
Chair: Jesse P Karlsberg
Nedra Deadwyler, Civil Bikes
Lauren Klein, Georgia Institute of Technology
Katie Rawson, University of Pennsylvania
Brennan Collins, Georgia State University
Technological Emergence and Political Emergencies at the Intersection of Race, Gender, and Resistance
Sat, November 10, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Twelfth, Piedmont 3 (Twelfth)
Session Submission Type: Non-Paper Session: Dialogue Format
Social technologies, those that are inserted into the relations between humans and institutions, are an essential point of emergence and emergency to study through the lens of racial and gendered difference in the Trump-era US. The empowerment of fringe and radical social groups that produce new iterations of racial capitalist oppression and resistance (such as the alt-right or the movement for Black lives), alternative facts and “fake news,” the omnivorous consumption of words and images by machines in daily life, and the coming together of military technologies with the infrastructure of everyday life (surveillance, robotics, unmanned aerial vehicles), produce emergent social formations and structures of feeling. This roundtable brings scholars and activists in conversation to consider technologies can be sites of moral panic and social regression (“emergency”), as well as sites of revolutionary possibility for social change.
Panelists’ will respond to three questions:
Where do we place critique emerging from embodied political histories when examining technological worlds that claim to surpass the human?
How do social technologies require rethinking race and gendered politics in this moment of emergency, where the rise of fascism appears to be working hand in hand with contradictory discourses about the role of technology?
Finally, how do emergent technologies suggest possible challenges to calamities and prompt us toward alternative—indeed better—worlds?
Neda Atanasoski and Kalindi Vora (co-authors) offer reflections on emergent “smart” automation technologies that ostensibly herald the obsolescence of the blue collar worker in the US economy and influence political appeals to “white loss.” They sketch the workings of what they call technoliberalism to assess the shifts in the workings of white supremacy and racial liberalism.
Elizabeth Losh considers how the many genres of fake news communicate the norms of new interfaces for civic life. Drawing on the Pizzagate conspiracy as a case study, she asks what happens if we see adherents of internet paranoia as rational actors rather than deranged outliers, and what political alliances might this make possible?
Eunsong Kim discusses the racialized and gendered formation of compositing, a process applied to the majority of circulated images that involves capture, retouching, and altering, as a site of racial emergency. She considers how this pervasive technique used in blockbuster films, daytime dramas, and in news and fake news, to “mend” the racial disparities foundational to camera technologies.
Mitali Thakor addresses the racial, sexual and gender politics of the “moral emergency” inspiring development of life-like digital lures to trap sex offenders online, primarily in the form of nonhuman child avatars and robot dolls. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with law enforcement, tech companies, NGOs, and computer scientists, she asks, who are the virtual offenders imagined by police, and what are the simulations dreamed up to lure them into captivity?
Heidi Hoechst takes up the emergency in the healthcare sector caused when automated technologies that devalue workers’ professional skill and judgment, eliminating jobs and also creating precarity for patients. Healthcare workers must creatively draw on emergent technologies—such as social media and distributive organizing platforms—to prevent healthcare crises.
Chair: Neda Atanasoki, University of California-Santa Cruz
Kalindi Vorga, University of California-Davis
Elizabeth Losh, College of William and Mary
Eunsong Kim, Northeastern University
Mitali Thakor, Wesleyan University
Heidi Hoechst, National Nurses United
Neda Atanasoski, University of California-Santa Cruz
Digital Humanities Caucus: Emerging Digital Humanities
Sat, November 10, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta A (Seventh)
Session Submission Type: Non-Paper Session: Dialogue Format
With its origin stories ranging across the domains of humanities computing, media studies, and educational technology, “Digital Humanities” has meant many things to many scholars. Though it began as a field highly criticized for its whiteness and masculine tech culture, various movements like #transformDH, #DHpoco, Global Outlook: Digital Humanities, among many individual commentators, have raised the profile of the critical, political, activist, and non-academic DH work that was historically neglected in narratives of the field’s formation. We are entering a moment in which such work is a norm rather than an anomaly: The University of Delaware’s Colored Conventions Project recently won the MLA Prize for a Bibliography, Archive, or Digital Project. The Debates in DH book series has an upcoming volume on feminist debates. The Black Scholar recently published an issue on Black Code Studies. American Quarterly’s Special Issue on the Digital Humanities comes out in Fall 2018.
The caucus hopes to build on this momentum to strategize how we can continue to manifest a DH that works to set folks free. This roundtable brings together speakers who are pushing DH in new directions, seeding a discussion with the audience about how we might envision the ways that Digital Humanities and American Studies can move forward together. How might the perspectives of American Studies continue to hold DH work accountable to the principles of racial justice, decolonial methods, and trans, queer, and feminist theories? How can we design digital scholarship and pedagogy with such perspectives in mind? Where can we locate and build community with other DH scholars who share similar priorities in their work? How can we put our work in the service of activism and public scholarship?
The assembled panelists represent a wide range of DH scholarship and practice. Lauren Klein is interested in developing computational techniques that can better address issues of race, gender, and their intersection; and applying those techniques to the project of dismantling structural power. Josef Nguyen interrogates how digital technologies, from robotic sex dolls to apps documenting consent, often reify dominant deterministic constructions of sexual consent, which elide structural differences, and argues for a necessary reimagining of consent itself. Laila Shereen Sakr inquires how logics of digital computation influenced and shaped twenty-first century social movements. She argues that the territories traversed online are liminal spaces where algorithms act as borders and asks how an embodied approach to understanding the patterns of data humanize scholarship. Catherine Knight Steele leads the African American Digital Humanities initiative at UMD (AADHum). Her research focuses on African American online discourse as resistance and she argues that the use of online technology by black feminist thinkers has changed the principles, praxis and product of black feminist writing and simultaneously changed the technologies themselves. Jacque Wernimont’s work foregrounds collaborations with experts from outside of the academy and art/experience modalities not usually considered “scholarly.” She is interested in discussing how multi-modal work that brings in “craft” and “hobby” expertise can help to develop a “DH that works to set folks free.”
Chair: Amanda Phillips, Georgetown University
Lauren Klein, Georgia Institute of Technology
Josef Nguyen, The University of Texas at Dallas
Laila Shereen Sakr, University of California, Santa Barbara
Catherine Knight Steele, University of Maryland-College Park
Jacqueline Wernimont, Dartmouth College
Sunday, November 11
Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s Cinematic Pedagogy of Dissent
Sun, November 11, 8:00 to 9:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Field, Third Floor West Tower
Session Submission Type: Paper Session: Traditional Format
For the past century, cinema has been a paradigmatic tool of political articulation, education, and resistance. Cinematic aesthetics and the worlds they represent have the power to teach us about our desires for other times, spaces, bodies, and possibilities. As queer, trans, of color, and feminist scholar-activists, we continually draw energy and imagination from our cinematic encounters, which have always been speculative in nature. Cinematic sounds and images move forward in time–and in so doing, promise to us an approaching, if unknown, horizon. Science fiction and fantasy cinema may therefore be especially sustaining to the concrete utopian urge (Muñoz, 2009) for liberatory modes of knowing, feeling, and becoming. As Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha remind us in Octavia’s Brood (2015), science fiction is the ideal “exploring ground” (279) for social justice, precisely because both require imagining other worlds.
In keeping with ASA 2017’s attention to the histories and cultures of Chicago, this panel considers and critiques the spectacular imagination of Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s cinematic science fiction oeuvre. Despite their undeniable cultural influence and emergence as history’s first transgender major motion picture directors, there has been surprisingly little academic attention to the importance of the Wachowskis. This panel asserts that the Wachowskis have made immense contributions to what Kara Keeling (2007) calls the “biopolitics of the cinematic,” (20), creating work exemplary for studying the (re)production of micromechanisms of power. Following David Valentine’s analysis in Imagining Transgender (2007), papers in this panel investigate the Wachowksis’ work as emblematic of the white and Western worldview through which “transgender” has concatenated, teaching viewers “how to look” from a trans-informed perspective. From their local studio base in Ravenswood, the Chicago-born sisters have crafted a directorial legacy (Bound, The Matrix Trilogy, V for Vendetta, Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending, Sense8) that places transgender art at the very center of how Western popular culture communicates the look and feel of historically/geographically situated “dissent.”
Commonly understood as a rhetorical or political term, “dissent” is rooted etymologically in the experience of feeling or sensing differently than others–a “difference in sentiment” that is especially resonant with transgender phenomenology. This panel argues that the Wachowskis’ work supplies us with a distinctly pedagogical aesthetics of dissent, grounded in trans subjectivity and operating through the delimitation of imposed realities. Spiralling out from a central analysis of Sense8, we investigate the Wachowskis’ art as at once utopian and yet incomplete, radical and yet bounded, ground-breaking and yet dismissed, deeply personal and yet open to multiple forms of co-optation. We hope to illustrate the importance their work has had in our queer and transgender lives while maintaining a critical focus on what it does not address and what forms of hegemony it replicates. As those who also “differ in sentiment,” we hope to explore what the Wachowskis’ archive might offer us now, at this moment of extreme trepidation for queer and trans people in the US.
Chair, Susan Stryker
Cael M Keega – Trans Pedagogies of Perceptive Dissent: The Matrix Trilogy of Emblematic Cinema
Micha Cardenas – A Telepathic Chicago Cop Meets a Telepathic Black Woman: Science Fiction as Pedagogy of Dissent
Laura Horak – Forging Collectives Through Embodied Spectatorship: Sense8, Resistance, and Radical Imagination
Emergent Forms of Speculative Media
Sun, November 11, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Peachtree, Seventh, Augusta G (Seventh)
Session Submission Type: Paper Session: Traditional Format
This panel explores what we can learn from speculative media about the ways new concepts and ideas about the world emerge. Speculative media illustrates how new media formats facilitate that emergence. The tools for studying speculative fiction ought to be applied not only to content but to form: the study of speculative media is about how both media format and genre shape what is thinkable.
Media theorists have argued for decades that the worlds represented in a medium are intimately tied to the form of that medium—the world depicted by radio is fundamentally different from the one portrayed in a printed book. The media through which we receive our knowledge about the world each already encode a particular and not at all inevitable perspective on it. For this reason, all media is potentially speculative. In this moment of multiple overlapping emergencies, it is important to try to see past the lenses enforced by norms of mediation. In this panel, we ask what roles different technologies play in structuring what we believe to be possible and impossible, and what possibilities can be imagined anew?
This panel brings together scholars of science and technology from a variety of humanities and social science disciplines. Evan Donahue will begin the panel by looking at the relationship between two media forms: Artificial Intelligence programs and video games. Donahue speculates on definitions of intelligence that are excluded from computer science research because they are incompatible with the videogame medium—with implications not only for AI but for future understandings of the very idea of ‘intelligence.’ Taking up this speculative approach to computer science, Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal’s alternate history of computing reveals an imaginary space behind the screen, another world that both mirrors and distorts our own. Per Dhaliwal, scholarly treatment of “algorithmic culture” has perpetuated an under-critiqued sense of emergency. Instead, like other forms of structural violence, algorithms can be best understood if we look for how they reorganize social and material spaces.
While the first two papers examine how we think about society and how we program our machines to both reflect and deform our ideas about the world, the next two papers apply these techniques to the emergency of climate change. Katherine Buse’s paper traces interdisciplinary computer graphics research in the 1980s that sought to generate images of nebulous objects and natural systems. Buse identifies the speculative power of the planetary and atmospheric imagery, a blend of science fiction and atmospheric physics brought to life in this period, and shows the dangerous consequences of slippages between categories of the real, the visible, the wondrous, and the possible. If the panel’s second half asks how mass media formats enable, constrain or warp environmental understanding, Blair Bainbridge suggests that alternative forms of mediation could offer fresh understandings of our emergency. Bainbridge critiques common visual paradigms for representing the Anthropocene as distancing devices. Through speculative fiction, she explores the prospect of rendering planetary relations tactile and intimate, enabling what she calls ‘planetary feeling.’
Chair: Nihad Farooq
Evan Donahue – High Resolution Realities: Games as Simulations of Reality in Artificial Intelligence
Ranjodh S Dhaliwal – The Space Behind the Computer Screen: A Window Into Another Dimension
Katherine Buse – Beyond the Teapot: The Worldly Atmospherics of CGI in the 1980s
Blair Bainbridge – The Orogenous Zone: Planetary Feeling in N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy
Aided, Inspired, Multiplied: Web 2.0, Collaborative Writing, and Social Reading (Online Session)
Sun, November 11, 8:00 to 9:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Acapulco, Ballroom Level West Tower
Session Submission Type: Paper Session: On Line Format
Our received habits and traditions of reading are changing rapidly in the era of Web 2.0, such that “literary” texts are produced, disseminated, consumed, and interpreted increasingly in digital/networked spaces. More than 40 years after Barthes’ delirious exhortations to “writerly” reading, emergent modes of digital pedagogy invite students to inscribe texts in ways that exceed dominant practices of “close reading,” especially by activating cultural contexts for reading, writing, and interpretation. This panel will explore several strategies of dissent from foundational features of literary culture and literary pedagogy: the assumption that both reading and writing unfold in a silent, solitary space; the privileging of the private subject as both source and and aim of literary “meaning”; and the private circuit that conveys students’ critical writing between themselves and their instructors.
Our panelists use digital writing spaces (in very different ways) to open up literary pedagogy to question the authority of the instructor and the canonized “primary text” and to distribute critical agency throughout the “student body,” reimagined as an assemblage that works collaboratively to produce texts that are collectively authored and visible to broader publics. All three approaches share a commitment to fostering more democratic, reciprocal relations between students, authors, and teachers. Allred’s work uses the “Ivanhoe” plugin for WordPress to transform Melville’s Billy Budd into an RPG, in which students, librarians, and instructor explore the inner workings and outer cultural contexts for the novella. Using the Scalar platform, Hanley’s project engages students in networking texts and contexts to explore the relation between Hari Kunzru’s novel, Transmission (2005), and the darling of Silicon Valley capital, Uber. Glass’s talk introduces Social Paper, a collaborative writing platform she co-created, as a free/open alternative to proprietary LMSs, one that encourages the kind of democratic dialogue championed by Paulo Freire.
The benefits of this approach are many and varied. Students are more engaged when writing for audiences other than the instructor, especially when the projects are open to public view and/or comment. Students also read each other’s work more consistently and zealously when using these interfaces/assignments, integrating “peer review” more deeply into their writing habits than in traditional pedagogy. In these online writing and learning spaces, students can become more self-conscious and critical of the affordances and limits of different media, especially the boundaries imposed by traditional genres of student writing. Students can also begin to understand and practice knowledge-making as purposeful, collaborative process. Finally, when students occupy digital writing spaces together, they learn more about each other’s writing and research processes in ways that often diminish anxiety as they see one another struggle through difficult concepts or rhetorical challenges. One last note: in the spirit of our panelists’ concerns and the conference’s broader theme, we will pre-circulate the papers and encourage audience members to comment using hypothes.is, a free/open web annotation platform that itself embodies the ethos of collaborative and democratic modes of critique that the papers promote.
Chair: Jeremy Dean, hypothes.is
Jeff Allred – Research, Interpretation, Play: Billy Budd as Role-Playing Game via Ivanhoe for WordPress
Lawrence Hanley – Exploiting the Network: Student Learning on Collaborative Platforms
Erin Glass – Towards Dialogical Student Publics: An Emancipatory Approach to Networked Writing Tools in the Classroom
New Directions in Television History: Examining the Transnational Histories of Spanish-Language TV
Looking Back, Angry and Otherwise: Popular Media, Dissent, and Historiography
Sun, November 11, 10:00 to 11:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Wrigley, Concourse Level West Tower
Session Submission Type: Paper Session: Traditional Format
In the wake of November’s election, one common recommendation circulating in liberal media publics is to look to past iterations of activism in order to gain insights into how to embody dissent now. Media commentators, for instance, point to films like Ava Duvernay’s Selma (2014), casting film viewership as a pedagogic practice that can aid in the larger, ongoing project of resistance. In such calls to “look back,” popular media is designated as a conduit, a means through which history is accessed and made into a template for the future. The goals of this panel are to denaturalize that gesture, explore the feelings that motivate it, and generate alternative ways of relating history, popular media and activism.
Building on recent interventions in historiography informed by feminist, queer and subaltern studies, this panel examines the limits of historical inquiries that work backward from a contemporary epistemological frame, a method that Laura Doan has described as “ancestral,” and attends to the specificities and exclusions of the archives at our disposal, treating those structural components as part of the stories we seek to tell. Mimi White’s paper analyzes the historiographic practices of journalists and other viewers of Mad Men, paying particular attention to what feminist critics want from the show’s representations of women and the different iterations of feminism that inform those desires. Using The Feminine Mystique as a case study, Leigh Goldstein explores the ambivalent politics of general history, that is, histories addressed to a popular audience and generated by those who are located outside of disciplinarity. Her paper attends to the kinds of relations that such “undisciplined” looks are able to discern and to the political ramifications of refusing specialization. Meenasarani Linde Murugan examines the desire for everyday-ness that fuels the historiographic efforts of the creators of the popular Netflix TV series Master of None, unpacking the history of South Asian American representations on film articulated by the show and putting it in conversation with histories offered by contemporary scholars and archivists. Finally, Aubrey Anable’s paper interrogates the project of enlisting popular media in the service of mobilizing dissent. Treating as case studies two recent videogames, Papers, Please and Sunset, that simulate the positions of enabling authoritarian rule and witnessing political unrest, Anable attends to the political critiques articulated by these texts, but also reflects on the liabilities of the technological form through which these critiques are accessed. Victoria Hesford has agreed to serve as chair and her expertise in feminist cultural studies, affect studies and American studies will guide the session and inform a stimulating commentary.
Chair: Victoria Hesford
Mimi White – Women, Feminism, and Genre in Mad Men
Leigh Goldstein – History in General: Undiscipline, Survival and the Politics of Popular Historiography
Meenasarani L Murugan – “Indians on TV”: Master of None and TV History’s Mundane South Asian Idols
Sun, November 11, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, New Orleans, Ballroom Level West Tower
Session Submission Type: Non-Paper Session: Dialogue Format
Even as Spanish-language television has grown tremendously in the U.S. over the last thirty-years, the historiography on this important area of study has remained limited. General histories that explore the early years of television and the establishment of a “fourth network,” have often left out or erased the story of Spanish-language TV. While media studies scholars have produced foundational texts in this area, to date there are only a handful of histories examining the transnational development of Spanish-language television in the United States, Cuba, Mexico and Latin America. Some of the constraints on writing the history of Spanish-language television in the U.S. have stemmed from the paucity of archival sources and the reluctance of commercial entities to share information with researchers. Neither of the two dominant networks, Univision (and its predecessor SIN or Spanish International Network) or Telemundo have assembled public archives, until now. The National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution and other repositories such as the Paley Center have taken the first steps in documenting and preserving the business, technical, programming, civil rights, and personal histories that came together in the early years (1950s to 1980s) of Spanish-language television in the U.S.
This roundtable session brings together university and museum-based scholars to discuss and debate future directions for collecting, documenting, and writing the complex, transnational, and politically-charged histories of Spanish-language TV. The discussants will draw on their own research to think about the shape of the field and pose questions about how scholarship in this area might grow in new directions. They will present briefly on their current projects to provide case studies for discussion and seed questions. The panelist include: Yeidy Rivero, who has written books on television in Cuba and Puerto Rico and is currently working on a book on propaganda-oriented entertainment radio produced in Miami and targeted to Cuba and Latin America during the 1960s. Her work will help us explore the political economies of radio and television broadcasting in the germinal moment of the 1960s. Kenton T. Wilkinson, whose 2016 book on the early years of Spanish-language television in the U.S. provides good foundation for our session, will explore the close ties with Mexico throughout the industry’s development. Mireya Loza and Kathleen Franz will take the conversation in a slightly different but complimentary direction with a presentation of their efforts to build archival and material culture collections related to the transnational history of Spanish-language television workers, advertisers, audiences, and networks at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian.
Chair: Alejandra Bronfman
Mireya Loza, National Museum of American History
Yeidy M Rivero, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
Kenton T Wilkinson, Texas Tech University
Getting the Joke: Unlaughter, Offense, and (Un)acceptable Humor
Sun, November 11, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Hong Kong, Ballroom Level West Tower
Session Submission Type: Paper Session: Traditional Format
For all their obvious differences, Donald Trump and Tiny Fey are unlikely allies against the rise of what sociologists Jason Manning and Bradley Campbell have termed “victimhood culture.” As a concept, Manning and Campbell’s ‘victimhood culture’ addresses the rise in marginalized individuals and groups positioning themselves as victims in an effort to garner third-party support. For example, when Donald Trump mocked Serge Kovaleski, a New York Times reporter with a disability, a number of news outlets ran stories of outrage calling for a formal apology from Trump for victimizing Kovaleski and, by proxy, other people with disabilities. Needless to say, Trump never apologized. Earlier this year, Tina Fey found herself in a similar situation when questioned about the appropriateness of her show The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt—a Netflix comedy loosely based on the kidnapping survivors of the Cleveland’s Ariel Castro—she explained that she was “opting out” of the “culture of demanding apologies.”
Both cases are unified by groups who have deemed the jokes more than simply offensive or harmful; they have deemed the jokes un-funny. Put another way, the decision to not laugh represents a political and social stance. In an effort to understand the cultural momentum surrounding questionable jokes and those reacting to them, Moira Smith offered a theory of ‘unlaughter.’ Smith uses the concept of unlaughter to describe not only the responses to jokes deemed offensive or hurtful, but also to show the ways ‘taking offense’ to jokes creates and maintains boundaries: e.g. those who ‘get’ the joke and those who ‘take the joke too seriously.’ Unlaughter, as a concept, serves as a useful entry-point to a range of social, political, and historic moments ranging from the Charlie Hebdo attack to Seth Macfarlane’s short tenure as the host of the Oscars.
This panel seeks to build on Smith’s concept by considering those who test the boundaries of acceptable humor, moments when humorists have been taken to task for inappropriate jokes, and comedians who have pushed back against demands for apologies. Raul Perez addresses what he terms the “postracial fantasy” in the work of Lisa Lampanelli. Lanita Jacobs turns her attention to Moira Smith’s development of unlaughter as a concept to show the ways in which racial factors create new potential for unlaughter’s social and political potential. Peter Kunze examines the role that libertarianism plays in the work of Joe Rogan, Doug Stanhope, and Bill Burr. Finally, Jared Champion suggests that Daniel Tosh’s shock comedy forwards a postmodern social politics, a type of counter-terrorization a la Jean Francois Lyotard, to combat the social damage done by homophobia that takes its license from conservative Christianity. The panel suggests that comedy offers a ‘pedagogy of dissent’ that employs irony, parody, and ridicule to challenge contemporary systems of knowledge and social order.
Chair: Irvin Hunt
Raul Perez – Racist Humor without Hatred? Lisa Lampanelli and the Articulation of a Post-Racism Fantasy
Lanita Jacobs – Authenticating Apologies in Black Standup Comedy
Peter C Kunze – Suck it Up, Buttercup: Conservative Commentators as Comedians
Jared N Champion – “That Goal-Line Defense Still Waiting at the Pearly Gates”: Tosh, Bigotry, and Fundamentalism