DepositFelix beyond the Closet: Sexuality, Masculinity, and Relations of Power in Arturo Islas’s The Rain God

This essay examines the uneasy relationship that Arturo Islas’s The Rain God has had with narratives of identity, focusing on how the representation of Felix’s sexuality makes him a problematic figure for certain strains of Chicana/o and queer studies. In other writings, Islas criticizes Quinto Sol, the chief publishing house of Chicano literature in the 1970s, for its emphasis on ethnonationalist novels that featured “positive images” of Chicanos, and he suggests that Quinto Sol rejected The Rain God for failing to conform to this mold. I speculate that the simple fact that the novel includes homosexual characters would have been enough for it to be deemed too negative in that era. I argue that Islas’s representations of homosexuality continue to disrupt notions of identity, but now the disjuncture is not that homosexuals are represented but that they are incoherent with the closet paradigm that is predominant in significant strains of queer studies. Drawing on recent scholarship that warns against a fixation on identity as the grounding principle for sexual experience and politics, I read Felix as a character whose transgressive expressions of homosexuality are shaped by a tangled web of power dynamics that are associated with his feelings of ethnic and masculine insecurity. Ultimately, I show that the very qualities that make Felix discomfiting to readers and resistant to narratives of identity are generative points of analysis for Chicano literary studies.

DepositThe Black Press Research Collective Newspaper Project: Visualizing the History of the Black Press in the United States

In a little over a decade, historical and contemporary black newspapers have been digitized at a rapid rate. Yet a critical body of scholarship of these newspapers’ impact continues to lag behind the technological developments, which have made these newspapers available to scholars and students. This dearth, in part, results from insufficient digital tools, which might assist researchers in understanding the geographic scope and social magnitude of the Black Press. The Center for Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University and the Black Press Research Collective (BPRC) propose to develop a two-day workshop to discuss the development of mapping and geocoding tools and data visualization authoring programs to assist scholars in producing traditional and digital humanities scholarship on the Black Press. The workshop will bring together key Black Press scholars, librarians, archivists and data visualization experts to develop plans to create data visualizations from select data on the Black Press. The workshop will result in a white paper on the state of scholarship on the Black Press and proposals to develop a set of visualizations of its history.

DepositUnderstanding Genre in a Collection of a Million Volumes

Large digital collections offer new avenues of exploration for literary scholars. But their potential has not yet been fully realized, because we don’t have the metadata we would need to make literary arguments at scale. Subject classifications don’t reveal, for instance, whether a given volume is poetry, drama, fiction, or criticism. Working with a hand-classified collection of 4,275 English-language works, we have discovered new perspectives on the history of genre. But to flesh out those leads (and permit others to undertake similar projects) we need to move to a scale where manual classification would be impractical. We propose to develop software that can classify volumes by genre while allowing definitions of genre to change over time, and allowing works to belong to multiple genres. We will classify a million-volume collection (1800- 1949), make our data, metadata, and software freely available through HathiTrust Research Center, and publish substantive literary findings.

DepositThe Distributed Text: An Annotated Digital Edition of Franz Boas’ Pioneering Ethnography

Under the rubric of a new Franz Boas Critical Edition book series, we propose to reprint and annotate Boas’s important 1897 monograph The Social Organization and the Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians in both print and as a multimedia website. Framed with scholarly essays and contemporary Kwakwaka’wakw perspectives, the new editions will re-unite the original text with widely distributed archival and museum collections that shed new light on the book. This project will reveal the nature of co-authorship in Boas’s work, use multimedia to return sensory richness to his ethnography, and make this historic research more relevant to contemporary scholars and indigenous communities. The Digital Humanities Start Up Grant (level II) will be used to fund a workshop to plan the digital edition; for design of a wiki for collaborative research; for travel to determine the full range of materials to be digitized; for production of sample webpages to test interfaces and functionality; for salary toward project administration and digital technology assistance; and for development of innovative software to reproduce and render searchable the large amounts of Kwakw’ala-language materials.

MemberDenis Akhapkin

Denis Akhapkin currently teaches in the Liberal Arts and Humanities program at Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia, where also works as a head of Centre for Writing and Critical Thinking. His interests include modern Russian literature with an emphasis on poetry and poetics, literary linguistics and cognitive literature studies. He published a book of commentaries to poetry of Russian-American Nobel prize author Joseph Brodsky («Joseph Brodsky: After Russia», 2009, in Russian). His work has appeared in Toronto Slavic Quarterly, Russian Literature and other journals, he is also the author of several biographies of Russian writers in Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB).  He was a visiting research fellow of Helsinki University Collegium (spring 2007) and The Princess Dashkova Russian Centre, University of Edinburgh (fall 2014). He holds both B.A. and PhD in Russian Language from Saint-Petersburg State University. Denis is an associate international member of the Institute for Writing and Thinking, Bard College (USA).

MemberBrandon Wason

I work with special collections — archives, manuscripts, rare books — at Pitts Theology Library, Emory University. I have a BA in Classics from California State University, Long Beach (2006), a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) from Candler School of Theology (2009), and most recently a PhD in New Testament from Emory University (defended my dissertation in March 2017). My research is primarily concerned with Luke-Acts, ancient historiography, and rhetoric criticism. My dissertation, “All Things to All People: Luke’s Paul as an Orator in Diverse Social Contexts,” looks at Luke’s characterization of Paul in four main speeches in Acts (chs. 13, 17, 20, and 26). This dissertation looks at two issues related to the characterization of Paul in the book of Acts: (1) whether Luke, the author of Acts, makes use of the rhetorical exercise of speech-in-character (prosopopoeia/ethopoeia), and (2) what Luke’s purposes are in portraying Paul as a gifted speaker who adapts to different rhetorical situations. Thus, this dissertation looks at each speech individually, and then considers the cumulative portrait of Paul in Acts.

DepositNeuroqueer: Contextualizing Narrative through Embodied Experience

As Sue Kim noted at the Narrative 2018 conference, the field of narrative theory is long overdue for a reckoning with its lack of diversity and its frequent silence on issues of race, gender, and sexuality in favor of supposedly neutral, universal qualities of narrative (Hogan 2010). To be sure, the recent works by scholars such as Warhol, Lanser, Donahue, Ho, and Morgan that structure the questions of this panel have provided rich sites for that reckoning to begin. However the various narratologies present in such work, such as queer, feminist, and cognitive narrative theories, rarely speak to one another, and when they do they do so on the level of cultural narratives or affective stances, such as Kim’s work with narrative and anger (2013). This paper contributes to efforts to bridge and contextualize narrative theories by proposing that focusing on narrative as an embodied experience can reveal new ways of accounting for difference in narrative––ways to bring different narratives theories together, and to understand how we all use and understand narrative differently based on our embodied positions within systems of power. As an example, this paper uses neuroqueer (as recently theorized by Jigna Desai) as a narrative of a particular embodiment—being neurodivergent and queer—in order to examine how cognitive, queer, and rhetorical narrative theories can (and must) meet in understanding how we make meaning in and tell stories about the world differently based on our lived experiences. Neuroqueer’s implications for contextualizing narrative become particularly apparent in SOMA, a video game set in a post-apocalyptic world where human consciousness is transferred to android bodies. In SOMA, the player’s perspective on the world shifts based on the bodies they experience it through, and in multiple instances the game’s narrative upends their normative expectations of embodiment and interaction in ways that are distinctly neuroqueer.

DepositThe New Border

This course is a study of the literature of the U.S.-Mexico border from the 1980s to the present. We begin with Gloria Anzaldúa’s foundational texts, Borderlands / La Frontera, and her landmark feminist anthology, co-edited with Cherríe Moraga, This Bridge Called My Back: Radical Writings by Women of Color. We then consider the legacies and afterlives of this body of work in more recent literature, from Roberto Bolaño’s obsession with femicide and the borderlands to Carmen Boullosa’s Texas: The Great Theft, Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World, and Valeria Luiselli’s The Lost Children Archive. We’ll also spend significant time with contemporary poets, including Daniel Borzutzky, Juan Felipe Herrera, Valerie Martínez, Wendy Trevino, and Javier Zamora. How does this literature understand the changing dynamics of what scholar John Alba Cutler calls “the new border,” a zone defined by an increasingly punitive regime of militarization, criminalization, mass detention and mass deportation? How does this literature disclose the structures of relation that underlie the mediation and spectacularization of the border? How does it respond to the ideologies of white supremacy and anti-Mexican and anti-Latino racism? More basically, what theories and methods of reading does the literature of the new border demand? Where does it direct our attention? While our main focus will be on how the literature of the new border asks us to think about the U.S.-Mexico border, we will conclude by examining how this literature has changed as the border zone has expanded into Central and South America—and beyond. With this final turn, we will extend our examination to recent work that explores the nature of the relationship between the United States and the Americas.

DepositInternational Solidarity in reproductive justice: surrogacy and gender-inclusive polymaternalism

Reproductive justice and gestational surrogacy are often implicitly treated as antonyms. Yet the former represents a theoretic approach that enables the long and racialised history of surrogacy (far from a new or ‘exceptional’ practice) to be appreciated as part of a struggle for ‘radical kinship’ and gender-inclusive polymaternalism. Recasting surrogacy as a dynamic contradiction in itself, full of latent possibilities relevant to early Reproductive Justice militants’ family-abolitionist aims, this article invites scholars in human geography and cognate disciplines to re-think the boundaries of surrogacy politics. As ethnographies of formal gestational workplaces, accounts of gestational workers’ self-organised resistance, and readings of the attendant public media scandals show (taking examples from India, Thailand, and New Jersey), there is no good reason to place these new economies of ‘third-party reproductive assistance’ in a ‘realm apart’ from conversations about social reproduction more generally. Surrogacy, I argue, potentially names a practice of commoning at the same time as it names a new wave of accumulation in which clinicians are capitalising on the contemporary – biogenetic-propertarian, white-supremacist – logic of kinmaking in the Global North. Ongoing experiments in the redistribution of mothering labour (‘othermothering’ in the Black feminist tradition) suggest that ‘another surrogacy is possible’, animated by what Kathi Weeks and the 1970s intervention ‘Wages Against Housework’ conceive as anti-work politics. In making this argument, the article revives the concept ‘gestational labour’ as a means of keeping the process of ‘literal’ reproduction open to transformation.

DepositJurors’ Statement

In a world dominated by pop culture, society and the media – how is identity defined? In collaboration with gallery nine5, Karen Gutfreund, Exhibition Director of the Women’s Caucus for Art, is pleased to announce an international exhibition of 25 works from 21 female artists juried by Anne Swartz and Maria Elena Buszek. Identity seeks to expose the extremism of a consumer culture dominated by Western notions of beauty and the pursuit of idealized feminine perfection by exploring themes of power, representation and objectification. Female artists, in particular, face the challenge of identifying themselves amidst a society determined to do it for them. The artists featured in Identity attempt to manipulate the boundaries of authority and dominance and explore deeper themes of control. The viewer is challenged to confront his or her own gaze on the body and reflect on the psychological aspects of the female persona. Drawing from a feminist perspective, the selected works aim to define gender and identity through the artist’s terms, whether through accepting or rejecting society’s view, and voicing their individual definitions of the powerful feminine. Please join us for the opening reception on Saturday, May 31st from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Exhibition runs from May 31 to June 22, 2014 Performance Art by Megan Mantia and Leone Anne Reeves: GIRL WORLD OUR WORLD OUR BRAINS WE LIVE HERE AND WE LOVE IT: An Erotic Memoir on May 31 at 4:30 p.m. The artists in the exhibition at gallery nine5 are Shonagh Adelman, Chan & Mann, Sally Edelstein, Claire Joyce, Lauren Kalman, Beth Lakamp, Jessica Lichtenstein, Jessica Maria Manley, Megan Mantia and Leone Anne Reeves, Sarah Maple, Ellen Deitell Newman, Samantha Persons, Mei Xian QIu, Jennifer Reeder, Phyllis Rosser, Sonal Shah, Erin Sparler, Joanne Ungar, Cristina Velazquez, and Meghan Willis.