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Blackness and the Visual

Saturday, April 20, 2019 at 9:00am to 5:00pm

A.D. White House Guerlac Room

Symposium: Blackness and the Visual. Keynote talk Friday, April 19, with a workshop held Saturday, April 20.

Blackness and the Visual: A Symposium

Sponsored by:

 MITWS (The Minority, Indigenous, and Third World Studies) and 

The Department of Comparative Literature


The symposium proposes to rethink the intersection of blackness and visual representations from Africa and the United States. Cinema, photography, and other visual arts, amplified by neoliberal forms, have paradoxically eroded and intensified experiences and theorizing of something called blackness. This symposium gathers scholars from various disciplines who take up the symposium’s provocation, demonstrating the richness of investigations still available on visual blackness, a concept long thought to have been exhausted in earlier accounts and formulations.


Friday, April 19, 2019: 4:30-6pm

A.D. White House (Guerlac Room)

Featuring African Cinema: a Keynote Conversation with Eileen Julien and Kenneth Harrow

Introductions. Anne V. Adams, Professor Emerita

Reception to follow

 This keynote conversation features two leading figures of African cinema. The conversation explores the powerful formal and thematic innovations in cinema in and from Africa. Together, Eileen Julien, Professor of the Department of Comparative Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington, and Kenneth Harrow, Professor emeritus of English at Michigan State University, have widely published on questions of gender and embodiment, among other things, in African films.   


Saturday, April 20, 2019: Workshop

A.D White House (Room 110)

8:15-9am: Breakfast

9am-9:30: Introductions

9:30am-11am: Session 1: Adaptation and Transmediality

  • Samantha N. Sheppard, “Racial Iconicity and the Transmedia Black Athlete”
  • Kenneth W. Harrow, “Trashy Women: Karmen Gei, l’Oiseau Rebelle” and “La Nuit de la vérité (2004) Dissensus vs Consensus”
  • Riché Richardson, “The Blackness of Stepford and the Shadow of the Southern Gothic” 

 11:15am-1pm: Session 2: Culture of Seeing and Pleasure

  • Naminata Diabate, “No Pleasure, Please, We’re Suffering: Visual Black Pleasure”
  • Bill Gaskins, “True & Free: The Black Photographers Annual”
  • Eileen Julien, “Et la neige n'était plus: Hommage à Ababacar Samb”


1-2p: lunch

 2-3:45pm: Session 3: Spaces and Forms of Trauma

  • Parisa Vaziri, “Pneumatics of Blackness: Nāṣir Taqvāī’s Bād-i Jin”
  • Dehanza Rogers, “Raced Based Trauma in the Age of the Viral Video”
  • Samia Henni, “Portraying Colonial Violence"


3:50-4:30: Concluding remarks

4:30pm-5:15pm: Refreshments


With generous co-sponsorship from The Society for the Humanities

Symposium conceived and organized by Naminata Diabate, Assistant Professor, Department of Comparative Literature

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Event Type



Comparative Literature



Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Laura Kipfer


Naminata Diabante

Dept. Web Site

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