The Future of Black Studies: Past and Present NeMLA 2014

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Northeast Modern Language Association 2014 Conference Harrisburg, PA
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Black Studies, as a phrase and area of study, has reentered the lexicon of academics in the recent years more prominently. Sylvia Wynter, for instance, argues that Black Studies programs, and their artistic analogs found in the Blacks Arts and Black Power Movements, "where to find their original transgressive intentions defused" upon entering the academy (109). Black Studies was defused or erased, Wynter argues, in favor of promoting multicultural and ethnic studies programs that supported the universalizing logics "against which the challenges of all three movements had been directed in the first place." Jared Sexton, seeking to complicate and refigure culture studies, in particular, and broader academic pursuits, more generally, proposes that "all researches, insofar as they are genuinely critical inquiries, aspire to black studies." Finally, Sabine Broeck, at a recently delivered talk, concentrated these thoughts into the following statement: "Black Studies is Humanities Studies,"

This panel explores the intellectual, cultural, social, literary, weight of these five simple words. How can the critical interventions made by these critics within black studies reinvigorate broader critical debates within the Humanities? How, for instance, might grounding ourselves within a critique of liberal Humanism reframe our understanding of theorizations of something like the (universal) post-human? Does a criticism of post-humanism necessitate a return to the body? Thinking more historically, how were narratives of protest and intellectual resistance managed to allow for the successful defusing of their urgency? What sorts of methodologies, objectives, and ethics might emerge from these discussions? Papers may explore but are certainly not limited to: The intersections of (queer) theory and black studies; historical theorizations of blackness; the (grotesque) body; African American literature and culture; pedagogical approaches to teaching blackness alongside race; blackness and historicism; and anti-blackness.

Please submit abstracts and a brief bio to Diego Millan ( no later than September 30, 2013.