Author Archives: LeiLani Dowell

LeiLani Dowell

December 15, 2014

The articles assigned from The Imperial University really got me thinking about the contradictory nature of the tenure process in regards to academic freedom. Apparently this is not a new debate; in 1940 the American Association of University Professors felt the need to publish a Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. In it, they state that:

Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition. Academic freedom is essential to these purposes and applies to both teaching and research. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Academic freedom in its teaching aspect is fundamental for the protection of the rights of the teacher in teaching and of the student to freedom in learning. It carries with it duties correlative with rights.

Tenure is a means to certain ends; specifically: (1) freedom of teaching and research and of extramural activities, and (2) a sufficient degree of economic security to make the profession attractive to men and women of ability. Freedom and economic security, hence, tenure, are indispensable to the success of an institution in fulfilling its obligations to its students and to society.

The AAUP’s definition of tenure asserts that “tenure, briefly stated, is an arrangement whereby faculty members, after successful completion of a period of probationary service, can be dismissed only for adequate cause.”

Obviously, I am all for academic freedom and tenure and, like many of us, I am hoping and praying and putting in work (not necessarily in that order) in order to secure a tenure-track job down the road. However, it’s the “successful completion of a period of probationary service” in the AAUP’s definition that gives me pause. The articles by Salaita, De Genova and Pulido attest to how tenuous that probationary period can be for dissenters and/or people of color (and incidentally, I love Moten and Harvey’s definition of the “undercommons of enlightenment” as the place “where the work gets done, where the work gets subverted, where the revolution is still black, still strong”).

The assigned articles have helped clarify the importance of tenure (on grounds other than the purely economic) and strengthen my resolve to fight against the corporatization and adjunctification of academia. But my question is, in this fight, how do we also fight for academic freedom that begins before one receives tenure? Perhaps this sounds far-fetched, but it seems absolutely absurd to me that academic freedom is something one must earn, and moreover that it must be earned by subjecting oneself to its very opposite. If, as the AAUP declares, academic freedom “is fundamental for the protection of … the student to freedom in learning”, and if more and more students are being taught by adjuncts, then denying academic freedom to nontenured faculty also amounts to a clear attack on students’ rights.

I almost wonder if we, as a whole, need to question the very nature of tenure itself, which, as is apparent by the experiences of the three authors, is also a punitive measure that actually ends up silencing dissent – or placing a chill, a hesitation, on those (myself included) who would challenge the imperial university and the state structures it upholds. De Genova’s article in particular reminds of Foucault’s analysis of the “panoptic modality of power” in Discipline and Punish: “The general juridicial form that guaranteed a system of rights that were egalitarian in principle were supported by these tiny, everyday, physical mechanisms, by all those systems of micro-power that are essentially non-egalitarian and asymmetrical that we call the disciplines” (565). The fact that De Genova was isolated by his peers for engaging in discourse on the war in Iraq screams of spectacle and surveillance, reinforced when he was denied tenure. I guess I’m wondering how we all participate in the processes of micro-power when we don’t question the disciplinary nature of the tenure process.

I would love to hear what you all think of this. Happy last day of class – we made it (most of us) through our first semester!

Works Cited:
Foucault, Michel. “Discipline and Punish.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan.  Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2004. 549-565. Print.

my visit to the Kroch archives at Cornell University

By: LeiLani Dowell

Hi all,

So, as I mentioned in class today, I visited the archives at the Kroch Library at Cornell University on Nov. 26. After sending an email informing the library that I would be in town and interested in making a visit there (I’m looking back at the email now; I had told them I was interested in looking at specific papers, rather than our generic assignment, and that I was a Ph.D. student at the GC), I received an enthusiastic response with links to the collection guide and the online registration system.

Getting to the actual archives involved interacting with three different staff people, all of whom were very friendly (the woman at the registration desk perhaps a little more friendly than I would have liked; she held me hostage in a lengthy and perhaps inappropriate discussion about the PBS show “Finding Your Roots” after inquiring about my name and my heritage). At the front desk, a young man instructed me and my partner to leave all our belongings, except for a laptop or tablet and our IDs, in a locker, then directed me to the registration desk. There I had the long-winded conversation with the staffer while she took my photo and looked up my reservation of the materials I wanted to look at. My partner, who is at Cornell, was also either required or encouraged to register, I can’t remember which. Finally, we were sent to the reading room, where another staffer had already secured the box I had requested and handed it over to me.

The reading room was a comfortable, well-lit place, stocked with green paper (I found it funny that they kept telling me I could take notes on the “green paper,” as if other colors of paper were forbidden) and pencils.

I had decided to look at the papers of Brian McNaught, who did work around combatting homophobia in the 1990s. Among other things, McNaught produced training materials on homosexuality. Along with a lots of videotapes, a flyer announcing a lecture, a reference guide to the video and film reels, and a letter from an official at the USDA asking for some of McNaught’s materials, there were also random bits of nostalgia, such as the pinup I mentioned in class from Honcho magazine, an album cover for “Jungle Drums – Wild Dreams” (not sure which is the band name and which is the album title) featuring a white man and a Black man embracing over a bongo drum, etc.

I mentioned in class that I found McNaught’s usage of the “gay liberation” trope in his otherwise mainstream work to be interesting. Something else I’d like to mention is that the lecture flyer is for an event entitled “Homophobia: What’s Its Cause? Can It Be Cured?” I’m currently working on a project that looks at the ways that the terminology of “homophobia” and “transphobia” pathologizes and individualizes attacks on LGBTQ peoples, avoiding discursive treatments and understandings of the systematic and deeply structural nature of heteronormativity and heterosexism. So I found it immensely intriguing that here was an event to discuss whether homophobia could be “cured.” I might make another trip to the archives to see if I can find any footage of this event in the future.

So, all in all, this was a (mostly) pleasant experience and I’m really glad I got the opportunity to get my feet wet in the archives.


digital humanities and Steven Salaita

Hi all,

I was at an activist meeting this weekend to plan for a Dec. 9 city-wide march and rally on the Ebola crisis (NYC: Fight Ebola without Stigma & Racism), when one of my colleagues from that world asked me how grad school was going. We discussed the difficulty of getting tenure in the academy, at which point the colleague said, “Well, just don’t tweet anything.” He was referring, of course, to indigenous studies professor Steven Salaita’s de-hiring from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after he posted a series of tweets critical of Israel during its bombing of the Gaza Strip this year. (Steven Salaita: U. of I. destroyed my career)

I thought about Salaita as I was reading Matthew Kirschenbaum’s depiction of Twitter usage at the Digital Humanities and MLA conventions in “What is Digital Humanities and What’s it Doing in English Departments?” and then Tara McPherson’s article on the whiteness of digital humanities. McPherson writes that “if scholars of race have highlighted how certain tendencies within poststructuralist theory simultaneously respond to and marginalize race, this maneuver is at least partially possible because of a parallel and increasing dispersion of electronic forms across culture, forms that simultaneously enact and shape these new modes of thinking.” However, it seems to me that the Salaita case is a prime example of the complexities of the concept of “access” in terms of technology – Salaita, a Palestinian American, may have had access to the internet and to social media sites like Twitter, but he was severely punished for his presence there.

I think McPherson raises some interesting parallels between the segregation of movements by the repressive state apparatus, in academia, and through the modularity in software design (although I’m not sure I really understand a lot of the technical stuff on modularity). I’m wondering, however, if at this moment we as an academic community should be thinking hard about the ways that people of color and other marginalized groups are systematically denied the kinds of access that Salaita’s case represents – the access to academic freedom in general, including and maybe especially in terms of technology. We’ve talked some in class about what’s in/appropriate to post on our social media sites in terms of professionalization; I’d like to think more about this in terms of UIUC’s calling Salaita’s political speech “uncivil” – such a loaded, racialized term. I think that this has a lot to do with the work Fred Moten is doing around the undercommons, which we’re reading for next week so I won’t get into too deeply right now. But I will say that I’m interested in how digital humanities supports and/or disrupts subversive academic thought and praxis.

Has the digital humanities community (broadly speaking) taken up Salaita’s case? What do you all think about this issue?

All best,

Annotated Bibliography: from early modern to Saartjie Baartman

By: LeiLani Dowell

I am working on a paper that explores the trajectory of the anatomization, racialization and mystification of female bodies during the early modern period to the sensational display and reception of Saartjie Baartman, a Khoikhoi woman who was exhibited as the “Hottentot Venus” throughout 19th-century Europe.

Allen, Regulus. “‘The Sable Venus’ and Desire for the Undesirable.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 51.3 (2011): 667-685. Print.

Allen, an assistant professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, analyses the poem “The Sable Venus: An Ode” and the illustration that accompanied it, arguing that both pieces reveal anxieties about white male desire for black women in the early modern period. The author discusses the creation of the “Black Venus,” meant to highlight the supposed superior beauty of white women while simultaneously eroticizing and commodifying the black female body.

Burton, Jonathan. “Western Encounters with Sex and Bodies in Non-European Cultures, 1550-1750.” Routledge History of Sex and the Body: 1500 to the Present. Ed. Sara Toulalan and Kate Fisher, 2013. 495-510. Print.

Burton examines the ways in which the formation of sexuality in early modern England was a cross-cultural affair, informed by colonial expeditions to non-European countries. In doing so, Burton challenges the standard notion of “backwards” sexuality in non-European countries and bodies.

Grogan, Claire. “Identifying Foreign Bodies: New Philosophers and Hottentots in Elizabeth Hamilton’s Memoirs of Modern Philosophers.” Eighteenth Century Fiction 188.3 (2006): 305–327. Print.

Grogan, author of “Politics and Genre in the Works of Elizabeth Hamilton, 1756–1816,” discusses Hamilton’s alignment of “dangerous revolutionary ideas and personages” with the Hottentots of Africa in an attempt to promote nationalist and patriotic sentiment in England.

Hall, Kim F. Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern England. 1 edition. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995. Print.

Hall, an assistant professor of English at Georgetown University, explores the connections between race and gender in early modern English literature and how the depictions of the two were used to form a prototypical white male identity. Hall particularly examines the nation-building impulses of imperialism, slavery and sexual politics as driving forces in identity formation in England.

Hendricks, Margo, and Patricia Parker, eds. Women, Race, and Writing in the Early Modern Period. 1st edition. London ; New York: Routledge, 1993. Print.

This anthology includes a number of essays specifically focusing on the reception and deployment of black female bodies in the early modern period, including “The Getting of a Lawful Race: Racial discourse in early modern England and the unrepresentable black woman” by Lynda E. Boose, and “I Rather Would Wish to be a Black Moor: Beauty, race, and rank in Lady Mary Wroth’s Urania”.

Hudson, Nicholas. “The ‘Hottentot Venus,’ Sexuality, and the Changing Aesthetics of Race, 1650-1850.” Mosaic (Winnipeg) 41.1 (2008): 19. Print.

Hudson, the author of several works on early modern England, explores the use of the “Venus” trope in the emergence of “race” and “aesthetics” as sciences during the period. Hearkening back to the Roman goddess, the concept of Venus is used to paradoxically highlight the “perfect” beauty of white female bodies while simultaneously sounding a warning about the desirability of black female bodies.

Lloyd, Sheila. “Sara Baartman and the ‘Inclusive Exclusions’ of Neoliberalism.” Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism 11.2 (2013): 212–237. Print.

By analyzing current feminist texts on the Hottentot Venus, Lloyd makes the argument that Baartman’s story resonates with current audiences because of the parallels modern-day globalization and the commodification of women’s racialized bodies and the imperialist impulses that created a space for Baartman to become a continental sensation in the 19th century.

MacDonald, Joyce Green. Women and Race in Early Modern Texts. Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print.

MacDonald, an associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky, discusses the implementation of race, gender and identity in early modern texts, specifically focusing on how women’s bodies were used in discourses of race and colonialism. For MacDonald, this often occurs via the erasure and displacement of black women’s bodies in the texts.

Miranda, Carlos A., and Suzette A. Spencer. “Omnipresent Negation: Hottentot Venus and Africa Rising.” Callaloo 32.3 (2009): 910–933. Project MUSE. Web. 2 Nov. 2014.

The authors examine the history and scholarly inquiries into the Hottentot Venus up to the current period. While the article focuses mainly on the omnipresent nature of the Hottentot Venus in today’s world – reproduced through hyper-attention to black women’s anatomy – the in-depth historical background of Baartman’s experience is helpful to an understanding of the deployment of anatomization and sensationalization in the early modern period.

Tuhkanen, Mikko. “Breeding (and) Reading: Lesbian Knowledge, Eugenic Discipline, and The Children’s Hour.” MFS Modern Fiction Studies 48.4 (2002): 1001–1040. Project MUSE. Web. 2 Nov. 2014.

Tuhkanen examines Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour as a 20th-century text that highlights the “interimplication of racial and sexual categories and suggests the uncontainability of both by movements of social hygiene.” In doing so, she discusses early modern anatomization texts that cite the genitalia of “lesbians” and black women as abnormal.

State of the Field: Critical Queer/Race Studies

By: LeiLani Dowell


  1. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies

“GLQ publishes scholarship, criticism, and commentary in areas as diverse as law, science studies, religion, political science, and literary studies. Its aim is to offer queer perspectives on all issues touching on sex and sexuality.

2. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society

“Recognized as the leading international journal in women’s and gender studies, Signs is at the forefront of new directions in feminist scholarship. Challenging the boundaries of knowledge concerning women’s and men’s lives in diverse regions of the globe, Signs publishes scholarship that raises new questions and develops innovative approaches to our understanding of the past and present. What makes feminist scholarship published in Signs distinctive is not necessarily the subject of investigation or particular methods of inquiry but the effort to cultivate alternative research practices that further feminist, queer, and antiracist goals of social transformation.”

3. Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters

“Texas A&M University sponsors Callaloo, and the Johns Hopkins University Press publishes the journal four times each year. The central purposes of Callaloo are:

  • “to provide a publication outlet, in English or English translations, for new, emerging, and established creative writers who produce texts in different languages in the African Diaspora; and
  • “to serve as a forum for literary and cultural critics who write about the literature and culture of the African Diaspora”


  1. “Nobody Is Supposed to Know: Black Sexuality on the Down Low,” C. Riley Snorton, 2014.

“Since the early 2000s, the phenomenon of the ‘down low’—black men who have sex with men as well as women and do not identify as gay, queer, or bisexual—has exploded in media and popular culture. C. Riley Snorton traces the emergence and circulation of the down low, demonstrating how these portrayals reinforce troubling perceptions of black sexuality generally.”

  1. “Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings,” Juana María Rodríguez, 2014.

“Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures and Other Latina Longings proposes a theory of sexual politics that works in the interstices between radical queer desires and the urgency of transforming public policy, between utopian longings and everyday failures. Considering the ways in which bodily movement is assigned cultural meaning, Juana María Rodríguez takes the stereotypes of the hyperbolically gestural queer Latina femme body as a starting point from which to discuss how gestures and forms of embodiment inform sexual pleasures and practices in the social realm.”

  1. “Wandering: Philosophical Performances of Racial and Sexual Freedom,” Sarah Jane Cervenak, 2014.

“Combining black feminist theory, philosophy, and performance studies, Sarah Jane Cervenak ruminates on the significance of physical and mental roaming for black freedom. She is particularly interested in the power of wandering or daydreaming for those whose mobility has been under severe constraint, from the slave era to the present. Since the Enlightenment, wandering has been considered dangerous and even criminal when associated with people of color. Cervenak engages artist-philosophers who focus on wayward movement and daydreaming, or mental travel, that transcend state-imposed limitations on physical, geographic movement. From Sojourner Truth’s spiritual and physical roaming to the rambling protagonist of Gayl Jones’s novel Mosquito, Cervenak highlights modes of wandering that subvert Enlightenment-based protocols of rationality, composure, and upstanding comportment. Turning to the artists Pope.L (William Pope.L), Adrian Piper, and Carrie Mae Weems, Cervenak argues that their work produces an otherworldly movement, an errant kinesis that exceeds locomotive constraints, resisting the straightening-out processes of post-Enlightenment, white-supremacist, capitalist, sexist, and heteronormative modernity. Their roaming animates another terrain, one where free, black movement is not necessarily connected to that which can be seen, touched, known, and materially valued.”


  1. American Studies Association annual meeting (this year: “The Fun and the Fury: New Dialectics of Pleasure and Pain In the Post-American Century, November 6-9, 2014: Westin Bonaventure, Los Angeles, CA”)
  1. Black Queer Sexualities Studies Collective annual conference (this year: “Legacies of Black Feminisms: A Black Queer Sexuality Studies Graduate Student Conference” at Princeton University, October 11, 2014)
  1. Modern Language Association annual convention (this year’s Presidential Theme: “Negotiating Sites of Memory,” Vancouver, 8–11 January 2015)


  1. Sexual Cultures NYU Press series:

“Since its inception in 1998, the Sexual Cultures series has sought to expand the potential of queer theory by unfixing the subjects of LGBTQ studies. Taking our cue from women of color feminisms and queer of color critique, the series seeks projects that offer alternative mappings of queer life in which questions of race, class, gender, temporality, religion, and region are as central as sexuality. Such multi-focused and open-ended explorations are even more vital today, when the mainstreaming of lesbian and gay lives and cultures risks foreclosing other possible ways of being in, and relating to, the world.”

  1. Perverse Modernities:

“Perverse Modernities transgresses modern divisions of knowledge that have historically separated the consideration of sexuality, and its concern with desire, gender, bodies, and performance, on the one hand, from the consideration of race, colonialism, and political economy, on the other, in order to explore how the mutual implication of race, colonialism, and sexuality has been rendered perverse and unintelligible within the logics of modernity. Books in the series have elaborated such perversities in the challenge to modern assumptions about historical narrative and the nation-state, the epistemology of the human sciences, the continuities of the citizen-subject and civil society, the distinction between health and morbidity, and the rational organization of that society into separate spheres. Perverse modernities, in this sense, have included queer of color and queer anticolonial subcultures, racialized sexualized laborers migrating from the global south to the metropolis, nonwestern desires and bodies and their incommensurability with the gendered, national or communal meanings attributed to them, and analyses of the refusals of normative domestic “healthy” life narratives by subjects who inhabit and perform sexual risk, different embodiments, and alternative conceptions of life and death. The project also highlights intellectual “perversities,” from disciplinary infidelities and epistemological promiscuity, to theoretical irreverence and heterotopic imaginings”

  1. Series Q:

“Series Q was launched in 1993 by editors Michèle Aina Barale, Jonathan Goldberg, Michael Moon, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. It brought a theoretical and interdisciplinary lens to gay and lesbian studies, approaching questions of sexuality from a queer angle. Intersections of sexuality with cultural studies, gender theory, social theory and literary theory characterize many of the books in the series in their embrace of questions of gender, culture, race and nationality, sexuality, and processes of representation.”


  1. QUEER SPECULATIONS: Thirteenth Annual Lecture Series in LGBT Studies at the University of Maryland. This year: JUANA MARÍA RODRÍGUEZ Friday, April 17, 2015

“Juana María Rodríguez is Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is also affiliated faculty with the Department of Theater, Dance and Performance studies; the Berkeley Center for New Media; the Center for Race and Gender; and the Center for the Study of Sexual Cultures. Professor Rodríguez is the author of two books, Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces (NYU 2003) and Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures and Other Latina Longings (NYU 2014) and has published numerous articles related to her research interests in sexuality studies, queer activism in a transnational American context, critical race theory, technology and media arts, and Latin@ and Caribbean studies. She is currently working on a third book project that considers the intersection of age, sexuality, race and visual culture.”

  1. Sonoma State University Queer Lecture Series

Presentations in 2014 include

  • Julio Salgado — I Exist: My Undocumented and Queer Narrative Through Art
  • Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler — Black, Trans and Indie
  • Raquel Gutiérrez — Radical Narcissism
  • Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarashina — F*cking Sh*t Up For Freedom: QTPOC Performance Beyond Survival
  • Ryan Lee Cartwright — Peculiar Places: A Queer/Crip History of Rural Nonconformity
  • Michael Nava — From Mental Illness to Marriage Equality: the LGBT Rights Movement
  • Jai Arun Ravine — Mixed Race, Mixed Gender, Mixed Genre: Dis-fluency and Illegibility in
  • Identity and Art-making
  • Toby Beauchamp — X-Ray Specs: Transgender Politics and Surveillance at the Airport
  • Maisha Johnson — Art and Creativity in LGBTQ Justice Work
  • Kate Bornstein — Sex, Bullies, and You: How America’s bully culture is messing with your sex life
  • Marcia Ochoa — Queen for a Day: Transformistas, beauty queens and the performance of femininity in Venezuela
  1. Queer Futures series at Columbia University

“Queer Futures is a new series that invites Queer Studies scholars to discuss the future of queerness relating to the body, gender, femininity, masculinity and American society.”


  1. Bully Bloggers:

Bloggers include LISA DUGGAN, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU; J. JACK HALBERSTAM, Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity and Gender Studies at USC; JOSÉ ESTEBAN MUNOZ, Associate Professor and  Chair of Performance Studies at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University; and TAVIA NYONG’O, Associate Professor of Performance Studies at NYU.

  1. Feminist Wire:

“The mission of The Feminist Wire is to provide socio-political and cultural critique of anti-feminist, racist, and imperialist politics pervasive in all forms and spaces of private and public lives of individuals globally. Of particular critical interest to us are social and political phenomena that block, negate, or limit the satisfaction of goods or ends that humans, especially the most vulnerable, minimally require for living free of structural violence. The Feminist Wire seeks to valorize and sustain pro-feminist representations and create alternative frameworks to build a just and equitable society.”

  1. Black Girl Dangerous:

“Black Girl Dangerous is the brainchild of writer Mia McKenzie. What started out as a scream of anguish has evolved into a multi-faceted forum for expression. Black Girl Dangerous seeks to, in as many ways possible, amplify the voices, experiences and expressions of queer and trans* people of color. Black Girl Dangerous is a place where we can make our voices heard on the issues that interest us and affect us, where we can showcase our literary and artistic talents, where we can cry it out, and where we can explore and express our “dangerous” sides: our biggest, boldest, craziest, weirdest, wildest selves.”


  1. C. Riley Snorton: @CRileySnorton
  2. Kandice Chuh: @KCatGC
  3. Herman Bennett: @HermanBennett1


  1. CLAGS: Center for LGBTQ Studies: @CLAGSNY
  2. SchomburgCenter: @SchomburgCenter
  3. Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality: the Locus of Interdisciplinary Feminist Scholarship at Columbia University: @IRWGS


  1. ENGL 80400. Kandice Chuh. “Queer(ing) Critique”. CUNY Grad Center, Spring 2015

“This course is organized around two questions: 1) what is queer critique?, and 2) what does it mean to queer critique?  To address them, we’ll read some of the hallmark texts in queer theory especially as it relates to cultural studies (including but not limited to work by Eve Sedgwick, Michel Foucault, Rod Ferguson, Lauren Berlant, José Esteban Muñoz, Siobhan Somerville, Jacqui Alexander, Jack Halberstam, and Judith Butler), and some of the work that has arguably queered the critical paradigms dominant in certain discourses and fields (including but not limited to work by David Eng, Gayatri Gopinath, Licia Fiol-Matta, Robert Reid-Pharr, Lisa Duggan, Madhavi Menon, and William Cohen).  Our aim will be not only to pay sustained attention to queer critique as an analytic approach and intellectual tradition, but also to consider the extent to which critique itself may be fashioned as queer — i.e., as non-normative, politically engaged, involved with matters of desire and attachment, erotics and embodied knowledge.  In the course of our discussions, we’ll attempt to apprehend some of the key terms and concepts organizing contemporary queer critique — e.g., affect, materiality, homonormativity, and temporality among others.”

  1. ENGL 76200. Meena Alexander. “Body, Affect, Landscape: Postcolonial Reckonings”. CUNY Grad Center, Spring 2015.

“How do issues of affect and embodiment play into postcolonial concerns with marked bodies, haunted landscapes, anxious histories? We will consider migration and displacement, bodies that are racially and sexually marked, public space and with it the shifting nature of cultural memory. Our exploration of affect and its intensities as crystallized in language, will include Ismat Chughtai’s short story `Lihaaf’ (`The Quilt’, 1942) about a high born woman and her maid —   a pair of lesbian lovers  — which drew the attention of the British colonial government. Chughtai was hauled into Lahore court under the Obscenity Laws. We will read fiction by writers such as Ananda Devi, M Ondaatje, U C Ali Farrah, A R Gurnah, poems by K Das, A.K.Ramanujan, and the New York poet A Notley. Questions of passage across the Indian Ocean, a liminal existence and with it the need to refashion the self emerge in autobiographical writings by M.K.Gandhi, A Ghosh and M Alexander. We will consider the phenomenological insights of Merleau-Ponty and work by theorists such as Appadurai, Bhabha , Berlant, Deleuze and Guattari, Debord, Gunew, Massumi, Merleau-Ponty, Sedgwick, Spivack, Stewart and Virno. In addition a short segment of the course will consider the concept of rasa from classical Indian aesthetics and its implications for contemporary affect theory.”

  1. ENGL 75000. Duncan Faherty. “Unsettled States: Rethinking Canonicity and Geography in Early U.S. Literature 1789-1859”.  CUNY Grad Center, Spring 2015.

“Previous configurations of early U.S. cultural production often framed the first decades of the Republic as characterized by issues of expansion, increased enfranchisement, consolidation, and progressive development. This course seeks to confront these residual figurations by thinking about how fracture, partisanship, ambiguity, and unsettlement might more generatively shape our engagement with this period. Moving beyond the contours of a mythic exceptionalist geography, we will explore emergent critical interest in the hemispheric, transnational, Atlantic, Black Atlantic, circum-Atlantic, and Oceanic dimensions of early U.S. cultural production; in so doing, we will attend to how varyingly literary geographies obscure or illuminate divergent bodies and canons. We will also consider how these spatial paradigms work in tandem with temporal ones by immersing ourselves in the ‘new critical interest in questions of history, temporality, and periodicity’ which, as Dana Luciano notes, has troubled ‘the when of our field,’ by complicating ‘the reflexive habits of periodization that organize fields [and, perhaps, canons] according to distinct and self-evident centuries.’ In particular we will consider how the Haitian Revolution and the Louisiana Purchase unsettled and reoriented cultural and political life in the United States, by taking up the challenge of trying to map how these events often appear, in Michael Drexler and Ed White’s accounting, through the use of a kind of ‘distorted articulation.’ We will also seek to read ‘cartographically,’ following what Andy Doolen has registered as the way texts ‘were embedded in the process of territorialization, explicitly addressing issues of possession and ownership’ so as to legitimize a range of state and non-state sanctioned actions and behaviors. As such, we will grapple with the shifting structures of feeling that define notions of democracy, empire, citizenship, and nation in the early Republic; moreover, we will investigate how the ‘feelings of structure’ serve to manage, manipulate, contain, and exclude particular bodies and possibilities from those emerging and contingent definitions. Finally, part of our consideration of questions about canonicity will take the form of archival research, as well as an exploration of the challenges and rewards of ‘recovery’ work.”