Tag: Richard Wright

Robert Reid-Pharr, African-American and African Diasporic Gender and Sexuality Studies Scholar, Joins Harvard as Gender Studies Senior Professor

Robert Reid-Pharr (Photo Courtesy of Robert Reid-Pharr via Harvard Magazine)

by Brandon J. Dixon via harvardmagazine.com

Robert Reid-Pharr, renowned scholar of African-American and African diasporic gender and sexuality studies, on July 1st joined the Harvard University faculty as its first senior professor hired solely in women, gender, and sexuality studies (WGS).

His appointment follows that of assistant professor Durba Mitra, who was hired last year as the first faculty member ever solely in WGS; both hires come at a “historic” time for WGS, according to the program’s director, Robin Bernstein, Dillon professor of African and African American Studies and of WGS. The field has seen increased undergraduate interest in its courses in the last few years.

“The number one reason that we were able to make hires is because we have an incredible student base. Our classes are typically over-enrolled, our courses are very well evaluated, and our Q scores”—students’ ratings of Harvard classes—“are through the roof,” Bernstein said. “So I think we’re at a historical moment where a lot of people understand that gender and sexuality really matter.”

The hires may also reflect the need for appointing young tenure-track faculty across Harvard’s schools whose scholarship is in line with evolving student interest, as noted in the report of the University’s Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging earlier this year.

Reid-Pharr previously served as the Matthiessen Visiting Professor of Gender and Sexuality studies in 2016, a short-term endowed professorship that invites leading scholars of “issues related to sexual minorities—that is, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people” to teach at Harvard.

“We hired him because he’s brilliant, because his scholarship is brilliant, because his scholarship is extraordinary in its impact on multiple fields, but notably on the field of African-American gender and sexuality studies,” Bernstein said. “He is a scholar who has published four extremely important, high-impact books, all of which are deeply original, astonishingly erudite, and all of which have had very high impact on multiple fields.”

Reid-Pharr’s books include Once You Go Black: Choice, Desire, and the Black American Intellectual; Black Gay Man; Conjugal Union: The Body, The House and the Black American; and Archives of Flesh: African America, Spain, and Post-Humanist Critique.

Once You Go Black was a Lambda Literary Award finalist for LGBT studies in 2007. In it, Reid-Pharr posits that a black American identity was not “inevitable,” and that twentieth-century black American intellectuals like James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright have “actively chosen the identity schemes”—of race, gender, and sexuality—that form the basis of a contemporary understanding of black American identity.

Black Gay Man—a collection of nonfiction essays critiquing the construction of black gay identity through an interdisciplinary approach—was the recipient of the 2002 Randy Shilts Award for best gay non-fiction.

Reid-Pharr was recently a distinguished professor at the City University of New York (CUNY)’s Graduate Center, specializing in African-American, postcolonial, transnational, and global literary theory. He has received research awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for literary criticism in 2016.

At Harvard, he will complete research for a book-length project on James Baldwin which he hopes will be informed by discussions with students in his classroom. He also intends to help Harvard with “institution building,” or the development of institutional networks for interdisciplinary discussion and international academic collaboration.

Continue reading “Robert Reid-Pharr, African-American and African Diasporic Gender and Sexuality Studies Scholar, Joins Harvard as Gender Studies Senior Professor”

AALBC.com’s 50 Favorite African-American Authors of the 20th Century

(photo via aalbc.com)

article via aalbc.com

1,826 readers cast votes back in 2001 for their favorite African-American authors. Here we share the 50 authors who received the most votes ranked in the order of the total number of votes received.  Below are the top 15.  To see the rest, go to: http://aalbc.com/authors/top50authors.php?

# 1 — (6.24%) Toni Morrison # 2 — (5.42%) Zora Neale Hurston # 3 — (4.82%) Maya Angelou # 4 — (4.71%) J. California Cooper # 5 — (4.33%) Alice Walker # 6 — (3.94%) Langston Hughes # 7 — (3.72%) E. Lynn Harris # 8 — (3.56%) James Baldwin # 9 — (3.23%) Terry McMillan # 10 — (3.18%) Bebe Moore Campbell # 11 — (2.74%) Richard Wright # 12 — (2.57%) Walter Mosley # 13 — (2.52%) Eric Jerome Dickey # 14 — (2.41%) Sheneska Jackson # 15 — (2.19%) Octavia Butler —Copyright AALBC.com.

Source: AALBC.com’s 50 Favorite African-American Authors of the 20th Century

Black Victorian Photos Exhibit “Black Chronicles II” at Harvard University’s Cooper Gallery Through December

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“We are not what we seem.” When the iconic novelist Richard Wright wrote those words, in 1940, he was describing the African-American experience. As a stunning new exhibit at Harvard University’s Ethelbert Cooper Gallery shows, the complexity of seeing and identity took its own twists on the other side of the Atlantic when the relatively new art of photography began producing images of people of color in Victorian England.

In more than 100 photographs, including a striking set that has been lost for more than 120 years, “Black Chronicles II” reveals a mash-up of racist imagery and cultural tropes that in many ways will be familiar to American viewers — and still often reveals the timeless humanity of the subjects.

Current issues of cultural identity and self-determination are at the fore of the exhibit, says gallery executive director Vera Grant, although the works themselves were largely made from 1862 to 1899. Curated by Renée Mussai and Mark Sealy of the London-based arts agency Autograph ABP, “Black Chronicles II” was produced through original research in private collections in the United Kingdom in collaboration with the Hulton Archive, London, a division of Getty Images. Part of a larger ongoing project called “The Missing Chapter,” it is the second in a series of exhibitions dedicated to excavating archives that began in 2011 with a small showcase done in collaboration with Magnum Photos in London.

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Despite the anonymity of many of its subjects (research is ongoing), “Black Chronicles II” reveals the complicated nature of life for people of color in Victorian England. Ndugu M’Hali, for example, came to the public’s attention as Kalulu, the boy servant of the explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley. In this show, he is depicted several times, in both African and Western dress, a child between cultures.

A more formal series of small portraits — largely cartes de visites, or calling cards — opens the exhibit. These include images of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a native of West Africa who was “given” to Queen Victoria as a slave and raised as her goddaughter. In two portraits from 1862, one with her husband, she appears the essence of a calm, well-dressed Victorian lady, despite her tragic history.

Continue reading “Black Victorian Photos Exhibit “Black Chronicles II” at Harvard University’s Cooper Gallery Through December”

Chicago Artist Savannah Wood Aims For Engagement, Empowerment With South Side Book Exchange (VIDEO)

CHICAGO — If Baltimore native and Chicago transplant Savannah Wood has one regret, it’s that she didn’t take enough time to read all the books she said surrounded her as a youngster.  Though the Chicago-based artist and Rebuild Foundation instructor said she was surrounded by incredible books, she laments that she didn’t stumble upon a book like Richard Wright’s 1940 novel Native Son, which she said she received as part of a book exchange while she was studying abroad in France as a student of the University of Southern California. Reading Native Son, which tells the story of a 20-year-old Chicago man feeling alienated like an expat in his own country, was an experience, she told The Huffington Post, that resonated deeply.  “That was the beginning of my being interested in black literature as a reflection of black life, the positive imagery in black lit,” Wood said in a recent interview. “I want to share that with other people.”

Last week, Wood launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign for Black Ink Book Exchange, an initiative that will eventually become “not quite a library and not quite a bookstore” focused on works written by and about those from the African Diaspora and located inside the University of Chicago’s Arts Incubator in the city’s Washington Park neighborhood.  Wood told HuffPost she was inspired to launch the pop-up exchange after working with renowned Chicago artist Theaster Gates to create a library focused on the works of black authors for a private client. With the Black Ink Book Exchange, she hopes to take that idea and make it publicly accessible in a way that serves as a focal point for the predominately black neighborhood to engage with the arts. She plans to open the space by spring and, during the summertime, move it to other locations on Chicago’s South Side.

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“I’m hoping to really activate the space and give people a place they can feel they can take some ownership of,” Wood said. “It’s not just to be looked at, but handled.”

Part of the interactivity Wood is aiming for entails the offering of free creative writing and crafting workshops taught in the space by guest artists. Money donated to the project’s $6,000 fundraising goal will go toward paying the artists a stipend for their services, in addition to purchasing books to supplement donated books, furniture and covering administrative costs.

“You can get hands on and make things here too,” Wood said of what makes the exchange different from a traditional library or bookstore. “I’ve been making things my whole life and I think it’s an empowering skill to have to produce something and put it out into the world.”

Visit the Black Ink Book Exchange’s Indiegogo page for additional information about donating funds or books toward the project.

article by Joseph Erbentraut via huffingtonpost.com

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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