Radical Historiographies (Due 1/12/2013)

The African American and African Diaspora Studies Group of the English Department at Rutgers University announces “Radical Historiographies,” an interdisciplinary graduate student symposium. This daylong event will take place at Rutgers – New Brunswick on Friday, March 28, 2014.

A major challenge for the African and Diasporic subject has been how to deal with the past while writing the new narratives the present requires. The multiple meanings of “historiography” (i.e., the writing of history, written histories, and the study of history writing) invite us as scholars to consider the histories we receive not only in terms of the context they provide but also as objects of study and active productions.

What is the value of remembering and the value of forgetting? What might it mean to get productively “stuck” in the past? To what extent is the past “usable”? What do we gain from recovering forgotten utopian visions and former revolutionary aspirations? What are the limits of citizenship and national boundaries when inheriting the legacies of slavery, colonialism and segregation? How might aesthetic and theoretical interventions help subjects escape these boundaries and disrupt chronologies that have been defined by exclusion and denial? How does one balance the needs of the collective with the self-care required to maintain the individual? How might we incorporate imperatives for social justice and liberation in our work as scholars? Should we?

Suggested topics include (but are not limited to!):

  • Biography and autobiography
  • Historical poetry, prose, drama, film and art
  • Speculative fiction
  • Public history, museums and monuments
  • Institutional archives
  • Re-orienting interpretations of history and critical approaches to consider race, gender, sexuality and mental and physical capabilities
  • Teaching African American literature 50 years after the March on Washington
  • Histories of ideas shaping the field
  • Historicizing as methodology
  • Periodization.

Participants will have 15 minutes to present their work as a traditional talk, multimedia presentation (video, film, audio, and/or digital media), or reading of a creative work. We will then open the discussion to look comparatively at the individual presentations in terms of the larger themes listed above. The day will close with a keynote presentation from Courtney Thorsson, author of Women’s Work: Nationalism and Contemporary African American Women’s Novels (University of Virginia Press, 2013) and Assistant Professor of English at the University of Oregon.

Please submit a brief biography and an abstract of no more than 350 words describing your project along with a critical question (methodological, conceptual, source-based, etc.) for the audience to take up by December 1, 2013 to radicalhistoriographies2014@gmail.com.