Thursday, February 28, 2013

Priya Joshi Speaking at GW

Priya Joshi will present
"Rethinking the Theory of the Novel"
March 6th at 3:30 pm in Rome 771

Priya Joshi

Joshi asks:
"What theory of the novel might emerge when it is based on anti-literary forms?  How might attention to the anti-literary revise the history of the novel as it is presently conceived?"

She uses these questions to interrogate book culture in India, where English chick lit and IIT novels (here is a link where you can learn about the IIT novel) are the book culture rage. Meanwhile, "Indian novels" by authors such as Chetan Bhagat and Shobha Dé are reaching far beyond book culture and instead extending across languages and media! What does this mean? Joshi puts forth the supposition that "the future of the novel in the twenty-first century...[may be] inhabiting a zone in which it actively coexists with other forms and media, rather than obliterating or being obliterated by them.  A literary history of such coexistence remains to be written." Joshi's work provides interesting ideas of where book culture is heading as we see technology impacting our lives more and more everyday. 

Joshi is an English Professor at Temple University and the author of In Another Country: Colonialism, Culture, and the English Novel in India. Currently, she is working on a semi-sequel to this monograph. As a professor and researcher, a few of Joshi's interests include the history of the book, postcolonial theory, and imperialism and its legacies. Joshi is also the founder of the New India Forum, which investigates how "India" is portrayed through the medium of culture. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

On the Road: Prof. Schreiber in Atlanta

On Saturday, February 16, Professor Evelyn Schreiber was a guest speaker at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, at a one-day Symposium, "Reading Morrison, Reading Home: Male Kin and Family Matters,"  sponsored by Spelman College and the Toni Morrison Society.  The morning panel, moderated by Prof. Michelle Hite, Spelman College, focused on Morrison's most recent novel, Home and featured four scholars:  Prof. Schreiber, Prof. Herman Beavers from University of Pennsylvania, Prof. Justine Tally from University of La Laguna, Spain, and Prof. Meredith Gadsby from Oberlin College. In the afternoon, a panel moderated by Prof. Stephen Knadler, Spelman College, discussed images of masculinity in Morrison's fiction and included four scholars:  Riche Richardson from Cornell University, Lawrence P. Jackson from Emory University, Stephane Dunn from Morehouse College, and Valerie Babb from University of Georgia.  Students and faculty from Spelman and Morehouse, as well as from other neighboring universities, took part in a rich discussion of Morrison's novels (Home in particular), covering her concepts about home, her male characters, and other topics that surfaced.  Spelman became quite literally a "home away from home" for Prof. Schreiber and the other guest speakers as they were housed in the new "Green Dorm," a lovely apartment-style dormitory that offers hospitality to visiting scholars via a group of suites on the third floor.   The fine soundproofing allowed Prof. Schreiber to get a good night's sleep before her talk despite a well-attended Friday-night campus party!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Professor Hsy Wins WID Distinguished Teaching Award

Professor Jonathan Hsy has been awarded the first Writing in the Disciplines (WID) Distinguished Teaching Award.  In her announcement of this new and prestigious award, Professor Rachel Riedner of the University Writing Program and Women's Studies wrote,

"I am very pleased to announce that the winner of the Writing in the Disciplines Distinguished Teaching Award this year is Jonathan Hsy, Assistant Professor of English in CCAS.  Professor Hsy has shown dedication to WID since he arrived at GW. This dedication is evident in his course materials where Professor Hsy provides carefully staged frameworks for students to undertake close reading projects with difficult critical texts. Moreover, he provides direction with peer review assignments so that students in his courses can guide each other through the writing process. And, finally, Professor Hsy's assiduous comments on drafts and final papers enable students to learn as writers."

Professor Hsy contributes to the department’s larger vision for WID at several levels.  First, he has taught at the introductory level, in English 51 (now English 1410), which is the first half of the British Literature survey.  Students—many of whom go on to become English majors after their experience in such a course—learn to appreciate a wide array of medieval and early modern texts in this course, and their writing is largely focused on close reading of literary texts, critical analysis of those texts, and argumentative style.  Second, Professor Hsy regularly teaches the required course for all English majors, Critical Methods (he is, in fact, teaching this course in the current semester).  Critical Methods (English 2800, formerly 120) is a key WID course for English, as the interpretive and writing skills students acquire in it ideally animate all the other courses they take in the department (or in other departments if they are taking the course in conjunction with another major).  Professor Hsy has approached his Critical Methods classes thematically, having students read critical theory, for example, alongside the theme “Reading Romance” in earlier semesters or alongside the theme “Medieval Writing, Modern Theory” in the current semester.  Early writing in Critical Methods entails working with both theory and literature—close reading of passages is key for Professor Hsy, but so is the interpretation of “keywords" in writers such as Freud or Marx.  An extensively revised and peer-workshopped essay concludes this course and serves, for Professor Hsy, as a “synthesis” essay, bringing together students’ writing as interpreters of literature and skillful readers of theory.  Third, as students emerge into upper-level classes in the department, WID courses are important across the board; Professor Hsy has taught both “Special Topics in Literature” (English 3810, formerly English 172) and “Medieval Literature” (English 3420, formerly English 113) as WID courses.  Students have responded to these classes with extreme enthusiasm (with one student, who was among those supporting Professor Hsy for the award, essentially saying she wishes she had taken more medievalist because of his effective writing instruction). Finally, Professor Hsy is an extremely effective mentor, working closely with a number of Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) who have been involved with the WID program.

Congratulations Professor Hsy!  Your colleagues and students are so proud to have you as a member of our academic community.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine's Day Alumni News

Andy, Kathryn, and their officiant Chris
It's almost Valentine's Day and the English Department happened to notice that one of its very own alums, Kathryn Frazier, Class of 2003, is featured in the most recent edition of Colonial Cable: News for GW Alumni and Friends.  Kathryn was married to Andy Stone (a GW Political Communication major, also class of 2003) on December 1, 2012.

You can read Kathryn and Andy's GW story in the Valentines' Day edition of Colonial Cable, located here.

Congratulations and Happy Valentine's Day, Kathryn and Andy.  May your day be filled with happiness and, of course, poetry.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Vaddey Ratner Reading Tomorrow

Vaddey Ratner Reading

February 12th
7:30 PM
Honors Townhouse 
(714 21st St NW)

Author of the New York Times bestselling novel In the Shadow of the Banyan, Vaddey Ratner will be giving a reading at George Washington University TOMORROW! 

“Full of beauty, even joy. . . What is remarkable, and honorable, here is the absence of anger, and the capacity—seemingly infinite—for empathy.”

      —Ligaya Mishan, New York Times Book Review

“The humanity. . . shines through. . . in the author’s depiction of a pure, unbroken love between daughter and father and in Ms. Ratner’s portraits of the human will to survive.”
      —Howard French, The Wall Street Journal

A Little Background on Ratner:

"Vaddey Ratner was five years old when the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. After four years, having endured forced labor, starvation, and near execution, she and her mother escaped while many of her family members perished. In 1981, she arrived in the U.S. as a refugee not knowing English and, in 1990, went on to graduate as her high school class valedictorian. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Cornell University, where she specialized in Southeast Asian history and literature. In recent years she traveled and lived in Cambodia and Southeast Asia, writing and researching, which culminated in her debut novel, In the Shadow of the Banyan. The New York Times bestselling novel is being translated into fifteen languages, including Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Japanese. Vaddey lives in Potomac, Maryland."

Learn more about Ratner on her website!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Godmother of Rock & Roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Professor Gayle Wald is part of an upcoming American Masters presentation on PBS.  Readers of this blog are already familiar with Professor Wald's important book on African American guitarist and singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe.  Tharpe's story is now detailed in a new film set to premier nationally on February 22 at 9 PM.

You can watch the trailer, which includes commentary from Professor Wald  here.

As PBS describes the new film, The Godmother of Rock & Roll,

"Southern-born, Chicago-raised and New York-made. She could play the guitar like nobody else… nobody.
Discover the life, music and influence of African-American gospel singer and guitar virtuoso Sister Rosetta Tharpe from writer, producer and director Mick Csaky. During the 1940s-60s, Tharpe introduced the spiritual passion of her gospel music into the secular world of rock ’n’ roll, inspiring some of its greatest stars, including Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard.
The film features archival performances and new interviews with musicians, producers and friends, including Joe Boyd, tour manager of the 1964 American Folk, Blues and Gospel Caravan; Lottie Henry of The Rosettes; Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires; Howard Caroll of gospel group The Dixie Hummingbirds, which toured frequently with Tharpe; Anthony Heilbut, gospel record producer and writer; life-long friend Roxie Moore; Ira Tucker, Jr., son of The Dixie Hummingbirds’ Ira Tucker, Sr.; Tharpe biographer Gayle Wald; and others."
Be sure to tune in for this exciting premiere!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

On the Road: Alexa's Travels Part 2

A beautiful peacock-in-residence in the arts building on the campus of University of Western Australia, Perth. He clearly owns the place.

Alexa on Shakespeare Around the Globe, Part 2

Speaking on touring performances while grappling with demanding international travel itineraries and writing several talks over the Atlantic and Pacific definitely brought home the idea of arts perpetually in transit. The experience also gave me a new perspective on globalization. “Global village,” as it turns out, is a cheap slogan detached from reality. The sheer distance to be traversed and all the oceans to be crossed are a sobering reminder of the importance of rooted cosmopolitanism and of locality.

This digital humanist takes the lesson to heart. Reading and writing are always done from somewhere rather than nowhere. Archives that are born digital have the capacity to both eradicate and preserve a sense of place. Travel restores a sense of place to our visceral and virtual experiences. This is one of the points I made in my keynote at the 2012 Book:Logic conference on “Text Editing and Digital Culture” at University of Western Australia, Perth.

The point-to-point distance has implications not only for globetrotters but also for Web surfers. This impressive submarine fiber-optic communications cable map shows the round trip latency, bandwidth limitations, and signal delay increasing with the distance:

During my trip to Australia, I discovered that the Internet is simply slow “Down Under” for the reasons outlined above. For example, to show a streaming video clip during my talk in Perth, I have to send a signal to a server in Building 56 at MIT which hosts Global Shakespeare. The signal has to either cross vast deserts on the Australian continent before arriving in Sydney for one of the trans-Pacific cable links to the western seaboard of the United States, or follow the cables from Perth through Jakarta, the Indian Ocean, Cape Town, Lagos, the Atlantic Ocean, and Fortaleza (Brazil), to reach the eastern seaboard of the U.S.

A walk down the memory lane in the hilly neighborhood of Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto, Japan.
This is not some Disneyfied theme park, but rather how the residents carry out their daily life. 
In literary history as in life, there is no such thing as universalism. In fact, the “virtual” world without borders promised by Internet triumphalism has multiple limitations imposed by international Internet traffic flow and speed, and boundaries imposed by nation-states. International Internet access means something entirely different to users on the African continent. If you live behind the infamous “Great Firewall” in China, Facebook, YouTube, and even some academic email services are inaccessible unless you have acquired certain Web-based gymnastic moves. Even when censorship is not an issue, South Korea’s Daum tvPot and China’s and are far more accessible and popular than what can sometimes be perceived as the universal video platform of choice, YouTube. UNESCO’s Broadband Commission for Digital Development predicts that by 2016 forty per cent of the world’s population, or 3 billion people, will be using the Internet, and English will no longer be the dominant language for Internet contents. If you have traveled outside your comfort zone—defined by your linguistic repertoire and cultural knowledge—these insights will come at no surprise.

In plain English: the world is (still) a big place!

On the Road: Alexa's Travels Part 1

Professor Huang on Shakespeare Around the World (Part 1):

Four continents. Three oceans. Two hemispheres. One summer. Lots of tasteless pretzels and “chicken or beef?” moments (otherwise known as in-flight meals) in between.

Shakespearean chatter between Scott Newstok and Alexa Huang via text messages. Alexa spoke on Hamlet and Ophelia as icons of modernity at the “Global Hamlets” Symposium organized by Scott at Rhodes College in Memphis,
Travel opens our eyes to other cultures and our own, and who knew Shakespeare could take you places? To Norway, England, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, China, Taiwan, Singapore, and beyond. There are signs that he is not a dead white man any more. At least not the Shakespeare industry. The Shakespearean oeuvre is alive and well, and high school and college English literature courses are increasingly transnational.

Over the past year, lecture and research trips have taken me to several interesting places and taught me new things about cities I thought I knew (such as London during the Olympics) and brought me to friends old and new in cities I have never visited before (such as Perth in western Australia). Here are some highlights from my picture diary chronicling these trips. 

In Spring 2012 I had the good fortune of speaking on “Touching a Universal Nerve: Drama in Translation” at a roundtable hosted by Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) Residency Program and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Along with RSC artistic director Michael Boyd, University Musical Society director Ken Fisher, award-winning poet and playwright James Fenton, and several other luminaries, we explored the theoretical, artistic, and pragmatic implications of translating and performing, in English, The Orphan of Zhao, a fourth-century Chinese tragedy (also known as the Chinese Hamlet) and the first Chinese play to be translated and adapted in the West. Nothing is impossible, as it turns out, if you approach a play with a coherent artistic vision and honesty (ethical integrity). One year on, directed by Gregory Doran, the RSC’s bold new adaptation is currently being staged in Stratford-upon-Avon (until March 28, 2013).

A flurry of global Shakespeare events set the course for much of my summer travel, taking me to London and Stratford-upon-Avon before, during, and after the 2012 London Olympics to research transnational Shakespeare at work as England reinvents its post-imperial, post-war cosmopolitan identity. I also gave talks and met with British colleagues to plan for future study trips for GW Dean’s Scholars in Shakespeare.

As a fellow at the Folger Shakespeare Library, I was writing on multilingual touring productions to England from 1950-2011, but when ambitious plans were announced for a World Shakespeare Festival in England, I decided to expand my study to cover the eventful and exciting year of 2012. Before setting out for England in late April I gave a talk at the Folger on “Reorienting Global Shakespeare.” Part of that talk found its way into a short blog post I wrote for the Shakespeare Institute’s Year of Shakespeare project: “What Multilingual Shakespeare Can Teach Us.”

I did not know what to expect from the performances at the London Globe except for rumors that they would have 37 companies from all over the world to perform 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in 37 languages, including sign language and hip hop which represented the United States in what was billed a cosmopolitan Cultural Olympiad.

What awaited me in London was truly a feast of languages, with a hearty side of international politics. During my interviews with two BBC programs and Folger podcast “Shakespeare Now,” I expressed my enthusiasm for the active role that literature and literary translation now play in cultural exchange and major international events such as the Olympics, but I also reiterated my skepticism of crudely executed plans that may create more of a façade for cosmopolitanism than mutually beneficial cultural exchange. It was an interesting experience to be featured as a “foreign-born” Shakespearean in those contexts, which I elaborated upon during my talk at the Academia Sinica Institute of European and American Studies (Taiwan) entitled "Professing English from the Margins.” Identity politics are often writ large in these times of intense nationalism under the guises of internationalism. One positive effect, though, is that this ambitious festival demonstrates that Shakespeare has been transformed from Britain’s export to import industry. The meaning of this “return” to England remains ambiguous.

Here is one of the pictures I took:

To put itself on the metaphorical map of the world, the London Globe set up this sign post telling its visitors the direction and distance from London’s Southwark to select cities that range from Kyoto to Moscow. In the presence of so many visiting theatre companies from afar and at an authentically fake postmodern “early modern” theatre called the Globe, I had a transhistorical, synæsthetic experience of the “airy nothing” of “local habitations” of texts and cultures on the move. 

My research trips have born fruit. With the support of the Folger fellowship and research assistance from GW doctoral student Haylie Swenson, I completed a 16,500-word article (which is probably too long for any one who cares to pick up the journal) that was published in Cambridge University Press’s Theatre Survey in January 2013. The full story behind such international events as the 2011 Edinburgh Festival and 2012 World Shakespeare Festival is in my article entitled “'What Country, Friends, Is This?'”: Touring Shakespeares, Agency, and Efficacy in Theatre Historiography."

Naturally, as someone who has co-founded an open-access digital video archive called Global Shakespeares, I was excited to see “global Shakespeare” coming to life in London, Stratford-upon-Avon, and so many other U.K. cities in 2012. 

Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour shrouded in mist on a steamy summer evening. This is what the crossroad of the (financial) world looks and feels like.
I went on to give a number of talks on related topics of multilingual and touring Shakespeares at New York University, Australian National University in Canberra, Curtin University (Perth, Australia), University of Victoria (Canada), Chinese University of Hong Kong, Lingnan University in Hong Kong, City University of Hong Kong, and National Taiwan University, among other places. Some of this material went into another blog post I wrote for Shakespeare Institute’s Year of Shakespeare project entitled “Shakespeare in Borrowed Robes.”

A rather different Victoria Harbour, in Victoria, British Columbia. An ocean away, but named after the same Queen. Victoria is possibly the Canadian city with the most British character. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

On the Road: Professor Kavita Daiya in Mumbai

Professor Daiya on Mumbai, Migration and More

Professor Kavita Daiya
 I traveled to Mumbai (India) over the December holidays to continue my research: Mumbai as a city plays a central role in my current book in progress Peripheral Secularisms.  This work in part follows up on my first book Violent Belongings: Partition, Gender and National Culture in Postcolonial IndiaPeripheral Secularisms focuses on the experience of migrants and their descendants from the 1947 Partition of India as it appears in literature, film, oral testimony and public culture.  This is part entails interviewing survivors of the Partition who migrated from newly-formed Pakistan to India around 1947 and are now settled in and around Mumbai (then known as Bombay), something I have been doing on digital video for the last few years.  (Bombay city was one of the largest recipients of Partition refugees by 1948-49, as many came seeking work and homes in this urban center.) This is part of my Digital Humanities Histories of Violence and Migration project  Engaging scholars like Judith Butler, Jurgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, Talal Asad and Rajeswari Sunder Rajan who have recently written about secularism and the role of religion in the public sphere, I am interested in how refugees’ stories speak of secularism and enact ‘the secular.’  In this, I’m particularly interested in how gender shapes these stories, and how generational differences appear.  Further, I ask: How does this past history of displacement shape current ideas about belonging and ethnic nationalism?  What is the relation between history, memory and the rhetorics of secularism that emerged in post-Partition India?

Mr Shah, an interview,
migrated from Karachi in 1947
The people I met-from Mr. Surendra Shah to Mrs. Shanta Hirani-were kind enough to welcome me to their homes, and share with me their remarkable stories.  My interviewees came from a diverse range of regional communities, from Gujarati merchants to Sindhi landowners-turned-doctors and teachers who migrated in large numbers from Sindh to Mumbai via ship and air.  Most of them offered accounts about happy and peaceful lives in the pre-Partition era, and the hardships faced by them as they were ambivalently received in Mumbai.  Considered both citizens and refugees, their mixed reception, combined with the hardships of the loss of community, land, roots and home, is a moving testimonial of the violent experience of ordinary people, who, unlike the political elite, bore the brunt of the division.  In some ways, these stories are evocative of some brilliant literary representations of the Partition in English, Hindi and Urdu that I teach and write about: Bapsi Sidhwa’s Cracking India, Sadat Hasan Manto’s stories in Mottled Dawn, Shauna Singh Baldwin’s What the Body Remembers, and our former colleague Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games.  Yet, they offer a different perspective on the history and memory of the Partition, one that reminds us of its enduring everyday impact, and its legacies for contemporary politics and citizenship in South Asia.  It was particularly compelling to interview the descendants of those who migrated in ’47, some of whom live in Mumbai, but many others have left as immigrants for other shores from Hong Kong to Washington DC; how this intimate history shapes their sense of community and cosmopolitanism, their views on violence and the politics of peace will, I hope, be part of the story Peripheral Secularisms tells.

It was a productive trip, especially as these questions for me are urgent: Partition has been used as a strategy for resolving political conflict not only in India but also in many other countries around the world including Korea, Cyprus, Ireland, Israel, etc.  Religion, as many others have also noted, as re-emerged in our public spheres in new ways to articulate modern conceptions of community, national and cultural.  To study this in a comparative frame, as we often do in some of my courses like Eng 3730W and Eng 6560, is to re-examine Partition as a political strategy, to understand the gendered violence it can generate, and to work towards other visions of how religion, everyday life and community might be inhabited. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

EGSA Symposium: A Symposium on Failed Fixities

The English Graduate Student Association welcomes graduates and undergraduates to attend the 2013 EGSA Symposium 

The Symposium will be held on February 15th in Rome 771 and will start at 9 am and end at 5:30 pm!

Here's a sneak peek at some of the panels!

Attitudes, Affects, & Alliances in Scholarship: A Round-Table
with M. Bychowski, Patrick Henry, Sukshma Verdere, Tawnya Ravy, Leigha McReynolds

Dissecting the Gaze: Corporeality, Spectacle, and Performance in the Theater
Organizer: Kadie Groh,

     In “Bodies Unseen: The Early Modern Anatomical Theatre and the Danse Macabre of Theatrical ‘Looking,’” Natalie Alvarez theorizes practices of display and gazing in relation to Early Modern anatomical theaters, which turned postmortem examinations and dissections into a spectator sport. These anatomical theaters mirrored other theaters in many ways, even going so far as to include refreshments. In these spaces, the fictional or performative and the “real” collapsed: all bodies became recipients of a spectatorial gaze, and were exposed and displayed for the sake of entertainment. Alvarez attempts to “consider the body on display in the anatomical theatre as an opportunity to investigate potential models of theatrical reception in the onlooker’s encounter with the body. The concentrated atmosphere of the anatomical theatre with the insentient body occupying centre stage is organized around an invitation to look.” Alvarez’s argument highlights that there is not a “static relationship between the viewer and the body,” regardless of the fact that corpses in anatomical theaters are relegated to one location. However, her work focuses entirely on human corpses in anatomical theaters. What happens when bodies as subjects of the spectatorial gaze refuse to remain at a safe distance, or even to remain still and/or dead, as in many Early Modern theatrical performances?
     Dissection, representation, and spectacle, as well as the spectatorial gaze, appear in many plays and other non-theatrical spaces.  Alvarez references art which attempts to represent these anatomical theatrical “performances,” such as Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson (1632). 
Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson
         She turns her own spectatorial gaze on “how the onlooker’s experience of the body on display is shaped by the dynamic of its encodings in representation.” This panel explores just such issues of embodiment and dissection through the lens of disability studies. Some questions this panel hopes to explore are: How might this long-standing tradition of displaying non-normate or fragmented bodies (whether human corpses, human actors, or stage props) give us insight into theoretical discourses about disability, performance, aesthetics, and spectacle? How do modern prosthetics or donated organs factor into this discussion? How might questions of dissection and spectacle be applied to Postcolonial literature and race, perhaps in relation to stereotyping? What’s the relationship between the viewers, the “performers” (bodies or prosthetic wearers), and the parts or prosthetics themselves? How do parts or prosthetics, or representations of them, resist or subvert the spectatorial gaze?

Alvarez, Natalie. "Bodies Unseen: The Early Modern Anatomical Theatre and the Danse Macabre of Theatrical "Looking"" Janus Head (n.d.): 35-49. Web. <>.

Spectral Encounters
Organizer: Emily Russell,
           “75% of Americans believe that there are events that take place that cannot be explained. Over half of these people believe they have experienced paranormal events themselves. The identity of some of these people may surprise you.” These words slowly fade in and out like a misty message as an eerie soundtrack plays at the beginning of each episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories, an hour-long weekly show on the bio channel in which celebrities share their personal haunted experiences. Some are disturbing while others are rather sweet, though the aesthetic of the show never varies much – crackly recordings, old photos, images that skip across the screen in sepia tones. Celebrities are not the only ones telling their ghost stories to reality TV audiences. In an episode of My Ghost Story, another show on the bio channel, a man looks into the camera and explains in detail how he first became aware that the ghost of a past owner haunts the hotel he has recently purchased. A glass slid off of the counter. A distinct perfume wafted from an unseen source. The radio unexpectedly switched stations.

This panel seeks to explore the fuzzifying effect of spectral encounters – the sensory and agentive blurring that happens when a cup seems to tip of its own accord or a sound rings from a bell, unrung.  

Exploration and Enlargement Make the World Smaller:
On the Prospects of Transnational Encounter
 Organizer: Sreyoshi Sarkar,
     Besides functioning on a temporal plane of signification the “post” in “postcolonial” is invigorating in its enquiries into substitute/alternative ways of narration, historicization and governance that critique, contest and better, imposed colonial systems of the same. In thinking through these alternative discourses, postcolonial texts – theory, fiction and non-fiction, prose and poetry, films, music and online archives – have continually set into motion brilliant conversations amongst resistive and restructuring imaginaries at sites as different and complex as Africa, South Asia, the South East, the Middle East and even South America. Thus, postcolonial theory readers have the essential Said, Bhabha, Appiah, Mohanty, Hall and Suleri texts towards developing a useful postcolonial critical lens, Cherian Dabis’ Amreeka about the trials and travails of a post-9/11 Arab family in IIlionois recalls those of the Takahashi family in 1942 (“Family 8108” – Cold Case Season 11) in Japanese-American internment camps and Palestinian and Arab-American bands take up the cause of Palestinian self-determination while setting their lyrics to the rhythms of African-American hip hop.
    This panel explores a “worlding” of postcolonial discourse as processes of globalization continue to forge uneasy links across the world that affect and inflect not only local, national and international politics and economics but also war and non-war, lifestyles, cultures and countercultures, patterns of exploitation and displacements of marginalized populations. What do such discursive networks of the postcolonial hope to achieve? Do they enable more useful and evolving resistance to imperialist hegemonies as they are instituted, resisted and transformed? What might be the possible oversights and downfalls of such a critical lens? Looking forward to engaging in these and more conversations at sites of the intertextual, cross-thematic, trans-spatial, trans-temporal and trans-linguistic in diverse postcolonial texts and in different media, this panel hopes to approach, in effect, an ethics of the postcolonial in a contemporary world of the global. 

Nationalism, or Specters of Identity
Co-organizers: Maia Gil’Adi and Molly Lewis, and

In Necro Citizenship: Death, Eroticism, and the Public Sphere in the Nineteenth-Century United States, Russ Castronovo states: “As both corporeal fact and political metaphor, death produces bodies whose materiality disturbs the impersonality of citizenship, but whose remove from sociopolitical life also idealizes the unhistorical and abstract nature of state identity. Death, then, structures political life in terms of aversion as well as desire” (1). This panel will explore the ways in which the social formations of national identity is erased from our narrative of citizenship and belonging, in favor of a particular peoples “natural” claims to the nation. Those who do not fit within these national identities cannot gain access to this narrative and are thus pushed outside of it--Others are created and conceived within the national discourse (to which they don’t have access) as outside of national progression. These Others are racialized, innately and biologically made different to corporeally display difference; a difference that concentrated on the body is neither acknowledged or erased from national discourse.

This panel surveys those outside of this progression, in a phenomenon that Hortense Spiller crystallizes as the ways in which the ethnicized subject “freezes in meaning, takes on constancy, assumes the look and the affects of the Eternal.” We engage with the specters of nation that are simultaneously essential and impossible to the idea of nation, to explore what is lost when a national identity is formed at the expense of alternative populations and identities. In this panel, we explore the following questions: How is a communal national history created through the formation of racialized identities? How are history and nation always already marked by death and racial difference? How are racialized identities of a specific place and time, and yet eternal? How does silence, erasure, death and abjection reappear and haunt the present, invoking the impossibility of erasure and death? In what ways do these racialized identities display themselves in physical manifestations of pain and sufferings? How do these ghosts of race emerge in political, social, and cultural aspects of the nation?

Contact Molly Lewis at with any questions!