Recent Courses

if we win

there is no telling

we seek beyond history

for a new and more possible meeting.

-Audre Lorde, 1980. From “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference”

 


Spring 2013

(click link for full syllabus)   A Genealogy of Black LGBTQ Culture and Politics                                                                                      Morehouse College (45022        HSOC      300            01

 

Introduction

This course is an interdisciplinary survey of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ), and same gender loving (SGL) culture and politics.  After a review of key concepts in Black feminism and Black critical cultural theory and methodology, we will survey key texts and concepts of major nodes of Black LGBTQ social formation and intellectual production.

A Genealogy of Black LGBT Culture and Politics facilitates (and demands) close, critical reading of a number of scholarly and popular texts— mostly in writing, but also music, visual art, and film. We begin with foundational Black feminist theory because these scholars, artists, and activists’ uninvited interventions in Black politics, arts and letters– produced at the interstices of violence, silence, invisibility, or forgetting– exposes and makes available a wider horizon of possibilities than had been proposed before its emergence. The central theoretical innovation of this praxis (later claimed by theorists of various stripes), is the multiple—‘interlocking’, ‘intersectional’, ‘compounded’–constitution of “identity,” oppression, and therefore of roads toward freedom. The core of the project of our course is to elucidate this concept, along with ‘normativity’, ‘articulation’, ‘respectability’, and ‘genealogical’ methodology. Following this mostly non-academic insurgent Black intellectual tradition, squarely (or queerly),Black lgbt/sgl/queer artists, activists, intellectuals, and everyday people also produce trenchant critiques, visions, and actual re-constituted spaces to dwell.

In his introduction to Brother to Brother: New Writing by Black Gay Men, Essex Hemphill argued that the “creation of evidence of being,” through the development of a black gay and lesbian intellectual tradition is “powerful enough to transform the very nature of our existence.” This course thus seeks not only to rigorously engage students in critical social and cultural theory, innovative research methodologies, and cutting-edge interdisciplinary and thematically intersectional scholarship and art; but also, to contribute to a transformational “evidence of being” at the Atlanta University Center, and beyond.

Course Objectives:

  • Student will hone critical thinking skills;
  • Students will learn to critically read a variety of texts;
  • Students will become conversant in major texts, themes and theories of black queer studies
  • Students will gain preparation for advanced work on gender, sexuality, and race;
  • Students will engage a collaborative work ethic, toward community-engaged scholarship, activism and/or artistry

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Feminisms, Race, Gender, Sexuality                                                                                                                                Yale College (Freshman Seminar) 

 

This First Year Seminar is an interdisciplinary, survey of intersectional (gender, sexuality, race, and class) theory. Focusing most centrally on feminists of color, and queer of color scholarship and art; we will examine continuities among feminist and queer theorizing in diverse locations, and explore how different embodied experiences– including race, gender, history, nationality, and class– condition divergent perspectives.

Course Objectives:

  • Student will hone critical thinking skills;
  • Students will become conversant in major themes in the cross-cultural study of gender and sexuality;
  • Students will gain preparation for advanced analysis of gender, sexuality, and race through an introduction to theories of intersectionality;
  • Students will engage a collaborative work ethic, toward community-engaged scholarship.

 

Black Feminisms: Theory and Praxis (Major Works of 7 Black Feminist Thinkers)                                    Yale Graduate School 

Black feminist theory, produced primarily by Black women scholars, artist and activists, throughout the diaspora, constitutes a distinctive and influential body of politics and thought. This distinctive body of work is not only interdisciplinary, multilingual; and constitutive of specific geographies, politics and experiences, but also particular intellectual and political streams.

This year we will employ a Great Thinkers/ Great Works approach to Black feminist and womanist theory and praxis. After a consideration of a few of the major streams of Black feminist and womanist work, we will concentrate on close readings of selected works of 7 key Black feminist and womanist thinkers.  This is not a grand survey of the Greatest Hits, but an intimate engagement with seven singular thinkers. While the course is not meant to search for foundations or reach toward the newest works, each of us will track and map the intellectual, political, and/or aesthetic genealogies of these thinkers.  What streams do they follow? What new or emerging work follows them? What models do they offer for our own work?

 

Spring 2012

Theorizing Erotic Interiors, Interstices, & Margins [graduate seminar]

In this course we will collect, compose, assemble or articulate a theoretical, methodological, ethical and aesthetic toolkit for designing, researching, and writing scholarly work which pursues deeply contextual theorization of affect and sociality—especially that which emerges in or through in-between, marginal, incipient, or disavowed spaces. This may be in the mode, form or style of ethnographic; historiographic; literary; or performance engagement; or a combination of disciplinary modes, impulses or methodologies.

Students will share short pieces of writing throughout the semester; engage close readings of coursework; and practice field techniques to home in on or hone sensitivities to force, intensity, and social nuance. [Another force, here with less intensity:  If this coursework process proffers a theory of practice that can attend to the breaks and conjunctures of British critical cultural studies, Black feminist and Black queer theory, and reflect incipient and emerging worlds, we will be on to something! ]

In designing this graduate colloquy, we have of course made a number of assumptions about students’ pre-requisite preparation. We take for granted that students have already excelled in advanced courses in African American studies, Anthropology, or Women’s and Gender and Sexuality Studies, and that each student is well grounded in at least two of the following theoretical sites [and at least familiar with the other two]: French post-structuralism; Black feminism; queer theory; critical cultural studies; queer of color critique. Moreover, I have assumed that each student has identified a project– or, at minimum, a set of questions– around which ze can set these works in orbit, or put to work in service of pushing the project forward.

Please arrive to the first class prepared to discuss: Raymond Williams. Section 2: Cultural Theory. In Marxism and Literature; and Stuart Hall. “Cultural Studies: Two Paradigms” and “Cultural Studies and its Theoretical legacy”.

Evaluation:

  • Student will prepare a robust written response to the readings for each session.
  • Each student will serve as colloquy leader for at least one session, during which ze will offer a short piece of hir own writing for class feedback [This may be a direct or indirect response to the week’s reading, and must be uploaded by Tuesday evening].                                                                                                              Students will:
  • Compose an annotated syllabus for a future undergraduate course, related to (a) theme(s), theory(ies), or methodology(ies) engaged in this one. [It is best to envision an actual department and institution where you would offer this]                                                                                                                                                       Or
  • Significantly re-think and revise a conference paper for publication, based on the course works and discussions. (Please see me in advance to confer on the original paper).

Radical Intersections of Black and Women of Color Feminisms and Queer of Color Theory [Undergraduate lecture]

Syllabus Attached here:

This course is an interdisciplinary, multi-modal survey of radical intersectional (gender, sexuality, race and class) theory. We will examine black feminist, feminist of color, transnational feminist, and black queer and queer of color theories within their cultural and socio-political contexts, mostly in North America, but also in West Africa, Europe, South Asia, and spaces in-between.

This course will analyze feminisms and queer critique as both political spaces and scholarly choices. This framework will enable us to examine the continuities among feminist and queer theorizing in diverse locations, as well as to explore how different embodied experiences– including race, gender, history, geography and class–condition divergent perspectives. Is there theoretical or ethical salience across geographic, racial, gender, sexual and temporal spaces? [How] should we go about devising methodological rubrics and practices, and theoretical frames that can hold this?


Fall 2011

Politics/Poetics/Positionality in Ethnographic Writing  [Anthropology Graduate Core]

The goal of this course is to facilitate a reflexive, engaged, and sustainable ethnographic writing practice. We will approach this through [1] a re-assessment of the ‘crisis of representation’ and concomitant crisis of legitimacy in social and cultural anthropology; [2] a consideration of ethics and recent aesthetic innovations in ethnographic methodology and writing; and [3] self-conscious and collectively supported writing.  The course literature departs from the mid nineteen eighties, the moment in which anthropology first attempted to re-define and re-constitute itself in the wakes of various scholarly [historical, literary, post-structuralist, post-modern] ‘turns’ and social upheaval. Our exploration will orbit around two central questions:  How have ethnographers “re-grounded their claims of interpretive truth and cultural understanding” in the disorienting wakes of these various turns and squalls? In what ways does what we write matter, both as objects that circulate in anthropology, cultural studies and other inter-, trans- or anti-disciplinary contexts and, for example, among, policymakers, “natives,” and readers?

Caribbean and Latin American Sexualities [Undergraduate lecture]

This course will introduce students to the study of sexuality in the Caribbean and Latin American regions.  Since sexuality in the Caribbean and Latin America is “both hypervisible and obscured” (Kamala Kempadoo 2009) it presents particular intellectual and ethical challenges. Many aspects of sexuality are celebrated in local and transnational Caribbean and Latin American popular cultures as central parts of social life, while others are steeped in silence and invisibility. Moreover, sexuality is one of the main engines of tourism. This lecture survey course will attend to local particularities, while drawing comparisons between profound inter-articulating histories of conquest, (neo)colonialism, race, ethnicity, class, social movements and state formation. It will therefore necessarily engage an interdisciplinary exploration of ethnography, history, literature, popular culture (including film, television, and music); covering sexuality’s articulations to gender, tourism, (im)migration, social movements, formation of the nation-state, and religion; within sites in the Hispanophone, Francophone and Anglophone Caribbean; Brazil, Nicaragua and Mexico.

Spring 2011

Black Feminisms:  Theory & Praxis [graduate seminar]

Black feminist theory, produced primarily by Black women scholars, artist and activists, throughout the diaspora, constitutes a distinctive and influential body of politics and thought. In this course, we will analyze Black feminisms as both political space and scholarly choice. Still, we want to push ourselves toward also considering how these articulate to aesthetic choices, spiritual orientations, and everyday ethics. What is the connection between spirituality, art, politics and scholarship? [How] should we go about devising methodological rubrics and practices, and theoretical frames that can hold this all?

We will employ a trans-disciplinary perspective, including anthropology, history, sociology, literature and film; and challenge notions of theory as the province of the West [and North] and the middle-class alone. This framework will enable us to examine the continuities between Black feminist and womanist theorizing in diverse locations, as well as to explore how different embodied experiences-including genders, histories, geographies and genealogies—condition divergent perspectives. Themes explored include slavery, colonialism, diaspora consciousness, multiple genders and sexualities, class difference and inequities of power within Black communities; womanism; representation in popular culture; state violence; poetics and resistance.

Critical Ethnography: Methods/Ethics/Poetics [Undergraduate Seminar]

    Ethnography, both a set of methodological practices and a written product, may have various aims, and document or narrate social life in various ways. Critical ethnography recognizes that the ways researchers and authors encounter and represent subjects, matter on the ground. Scholars, activists and artists of various descriptions employ critical ethnography, including anthropologists of many different stripes. Here, we seek to understand and illustrate lived experiences, toward social justice. In this course, we will draw most of our examples from critical race theory, post-colonial theory, queer theory and feminist theories—focusing on the research and production of a critical ethnographic project prospectus.

We will attempt to bring some transparency to the mysterious process of working ideas, notes, and drafts into finished pieces of writing. We will engage communities, individuals, and discourses, and encounter our own ethical positions and actions, in critical ethnographic practice. Students should think of this course as an advanced theory and methodology workshop. While this is especially timely for students preparing for thesis field research, it is also useful for students at other stages of matriculation.  It will require simultaneous attention to several elements. We will (1) Read and discuss critical discourse/theory; (2) Practice various aspects of fieldwork, through a number of primary research assignments and the maintenance of fieldnotes; and (3) Practice various forms and styles of ethnographic writing, including the research prospectus, which will be the final requirement.