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2017 TASS Programs

2017 TASS Programs

Four TASS programs will be held in 2017.

See the 2017 TASS Brochure!

The Opposite House: Grieving Time in Space and Place
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
June 25 – August 5, 2017

Faculty: Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon and Greg Londe, Department of English, Cornell University

FactotumBreanna Leslie-Skye


“As lately as Today” or in the endless “always,” acts of grief require that we think about time and the untimely. We may be tasked with mourning and grief when we seem least prepared, or we may arrive at loss readied by feelings that last or take a long time. In literature, as in life, households are formed and deformed by such crossing timelines, in which comfort and intimacy can shade into their opposites. Our first two books take their title and draw part of their designs from what Emily Dickinson teaches us about spaces of loss. Where and how do we build around the things, the ghosts, the selves that we want to store? Our readings each reveal how every dwelling contains layers of its past inhabitations, and we will study how elegiac forms–that is, forms written in response to loss–construct spaces of longing through time, spaces both familiar and alternate. This course will take advantage of Cornell and Ithaca’s own architecture and history. We will collaborate with the staff of Cornell’s Johnson Museum of Art to curate a small display of contemporary art relating to the legacies of slavery, the generations-deep war on women, the ongoing crisis of AIDS, and recuperative constructions of kinship. The course will also include a range of assignments designed to hone students’ creative and critical writing skills.

Black Feminist Thought
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
June 25 – August 5, 2017

Faculty: Nia Nunn, Department of Education, Ithaca College, and Ashley Hall, Department of Communication Studies, Ithaca College

FactotumsStephanie Espinal Cardenas and Fidelia Igwe


This course will introduce students to the complex nexus of relationships in the social construction of intersecting identities relevant to race, gender, socioeconomic status, sexuality and more. Historical and current institutional and individual experiences of gendered racism will be named and deconstructed–that is, analyzed to unpack their assumptions and contradictions. Each week, required readings will introduce and offer opportunities to critically reflect on current black feminist discourses as well as the works of leading scholars who, for decades, have helped to complicate the notions of black girlhood and womanhood. The course will further examine the historical development of black feminist theory and criticism in conversation with feminism(s) of color, Black Queer Studies, Afro-Pessimist Studies, Afro-Futurist Studies, and Black Cultural Studies through an exploration of history, politics, literature, poetry, theory, film, and music. The goal of this course is to help students foster a critical understanding of multiply situated subject positions that will be useful in encouraging more in-depth and revealing analyses of research on Black women. While the primary deconstruction of literature and media presents the specific history and current realities for Black girls and women, Black male students can be expected to engage critically in examining the depth of similar and different forms of oppression in an effort to strengthen alliances and advocacy while interrogating male patriarchal privilege. As the course is interdisciplinary in nature, we invite students to pull from their interest in literature, communications, history, philosophy, cultural studies, African American Studies, Women’s Studies, Asian American Studies, Latino/a Studies, and others to complicate our understanding of Black women’s public discourse in the 21st century.

Coming of Age within the Long Black Freedom Movement
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
June 25 – August 5, 2017

Faculty: Erin Chapman, Department of History, George Washington University, and Brandi Hughes, Department of History/American Culture, University of Michigan

FactotumMilani Lawrence and Tiara Milner

Iconic scenes from the 1950s and 1960s frame our perception of the struggle for black freedom. Black students navigating columns of U.S. national guards to desegregate schools; black children bracing their bodies against police dogs and fire hoses; black teenagers singing for freedom and chanting for power; funerals for black youth slain by American terrorism. These are among the iconic scenes that form our national memory of black social justice movements. So familiar have these images become that the significance of the experiences behind them is often lost. Our contemporary use of these familiar scenes inspires teachable questions: How does our national memorialization of the civil rights movement prompt our misremembering of its transformative goals? Given that each generation has had to renew the struggle, are black people truly U.S. citizens? Does citizenship equal freedom? What are the questions of empowerment and constraint, of creative possibility and obligation that mark black peoples’ paths to adulthood? How do these questions continue to influence how black people mobilize social justice movements? What did—and does—it mean to come of age within the long black freedom struggle?

In this seminar we will highlight the rupture between blackness and citizenship, sexualized racial terrorism, the use of cultural technologies to produce freedom dreams, and the crucial roles of black youth throughout the long struggle. We ultimately ask our students to define themselves as empowered historical actors with the means to apply previous generations’ practices to current social problems and to help determine the next phase of the ongoing struggle for black freedom.


Performance, Gender, Race and Culture in the Harlem Renaissance and in Parisian Negritude
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
June 25 – August 5, 2017

Faculty: Frieda Ekotto, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies and Comparative Literature, University of Michigan, and Robin Wilson, Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance, University of Michigan

FactotumsKhadijah Edwards


Harlem and Paris enjoyed a vibrant courtship during the first three decades of the 20th century, an era commonly known as the “Jazz Age.” This period was marked by increased travel, consumption and changing notions of race, gender and womanhood. In particular, the work and travel of black writers, artists, performers, musicians and intellectuals offer insights into the cultural and intellectual exchanges that characterize this period of Franco-American history. This course will symbolically engage the salon and the cabaret—two of the iconic spaces of the Jazz Age—in order to explore this transatlantic migration of black cultures, ideas and people. It will begin by tracing the emergence of this migration; then it will consider conversations between writers, thinkers and performers of the Harlem Renaissance in New York and the Negritude Movement in Paris.

Negritude was one of the many ways in which black people from the French Empire began to articulate notions of “blackness,” a way of conceiving subjectivity that transcended deep divisions between Arabs, West Indian Africans, continental Africans and other members of the Black Diaspora. This course, by studying U.S.-born, black writers alongside writers from French-speaking parts of Africa and the West Indies—such as Césaire, Jane Nardal, Paulette Nardal, and Léopold Sédar Senghor—will discover how the Harlem Renaissance and Negritude were two manifestations of “Black” movements happening in Africa, the Caribbean and the United States.