2019 TASS Programs

2019 TASS Programs

Four TASS programs will be held in 2019, between June 23 and August 3.

You can read about the 2019 seminars by clicking on the tabs below.

Blackness Remixed: Genre and Adaptation in Contemporary Literature, Music, and Film
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
June 23 – August 3, 2019

FacultyLaMonda Horton-Stallings, University of Maryland, College Park, and Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, Bryn Mawr College

Factotum: Camryn Banks, University of Michigan, and Stephanie Espinal Cardenas, DePauw University

The term “adaptation” takes on various meanings in different intellectual contexts. In the realm of culture, for example, adaptation refers to the creative process by which a work of art is reinterpreted from one genre to another—e.g. from a novel to a film, or from a stage to a television show—retaining some key features but taking on new contours in the process. Yet adaptation takes on several other crucial meanings for Blackness as well. In biology and epigenetics, for example, it denotes a process by which an organism, group or species changes in response to the circumstances of a given environment, and the need to survive and expand beyond that context. This course explores how both of these perspectives on adaptation—the creative and the contextual—illuminate the poetics and politics of Black culture.  

This class examines the aesthetics, politics, and histories of adaptation in Black cultural expression across time and space. Tracing the movement of adapted texts like Alex Haley’s Roots, Natalie Baszile’s Queen Sugar, Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, and the World of Wakanda/ Black Panther series across literary, cinematic, visual and digital modes, we will we will consider how Black artists remix genres to imagine new expressions of blackness, survival, and futurity. How do artists like Shange re-conceptualize Black womanhood and collectivity as they reimagine poetic works for the stage, for example? What sociopolitical critiques are made in recasting novelistic texts like Queen Sugar for TV? How do concepts like the hip-hop remix help us understand the move from the comic book/graphic novel form to the big screen adaptation of Black Panther? We’ll approach these questions through a rigorous study of theoretical texts on Blackness, considering how concepts like gender, class, sexuality, spirituality, and globality shape the contexts in which Blackness is expressed, remixed, and reimagined in literary culture.

Black Feminist Thought
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
June 23 – August 3, 2019

FacultyAshley R. Hall and Nia Michelle Nunn, Ithaca College

Factotum: Tyler Gass, South Carolina State University

In a seminar on Black Feminist Thought, students will engage in regular discussions, reading, and writing assignments that will allow them to demonstrate their ability to develop and evaluate ideas and arguments. At the end of the six weeks, students will also have an opportunity to process, identify, and provide written reflections about some of their early ideas and arguments, and how they have been reinforced or shifted. Integrating activities that highlight multiple intelligences and welcome creative and performing arts (e.g. spoken-word poetry, collages, paintings), students will have multiple artifacts to select from in developing a capstone project at the end of the course.

Black Movements
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
June 23 – August 3, 2019

Faculty: Gabriel Allen Peoples, Indiana University and Aaron C. Allen, Roger Williams University

Factotum: Raenell Williams, University of Michigan, and Chinelo Onuigbo, University of Iowa

Black Movements is a metaphor for both how the Black body moves in performance (i.e. behaviors, gestures, timbres) as well as how the Black body mobilizes (i.e. #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter). As such, Black movements not only trouble the ontology, or visceral elements, of Blackness, but also the social construction of it. Thinking through how things like authenticity, appropriation, and vulnerability not only shape and are shaped by performance, but also function as things around which Black bodies mobilize, undergirds the material covered. We will explore questions, such as: what is Blackness? When and where has Blackness changed? How does Blackness intersect in inescapable ways with other forms of identity (gender, sexuality, and class)? What is Black performance and how does Blackness move? Specifically, we will be attentive to the changing definition of racial boundaries and its impact on the category of Blackness, the similarities and difference in Black liberation movements from the civil rights era to more recent forms of Black mobilization in the 21st century, and how Blackness operates in relationship to power both subversively and collusively in performance and art.

Black Movements argues that Blackness is a real visceral thing and it is also a social construct, often at the same time. Students will be expected to develop digital stories as a means of examining this argument and how their participation in embracing and/or challenging Black movements impacts their every day lives, and the everyday lives of  others.

Reconceptualizing Black Geographies: The Politics of Race, Space, and Home
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
June 23 – August 3, 2019

Faculty: Tashal Brown, College of Education, Michigan State University and Lauren Elizabeth Reine Johnson, College of Education, Michigan State University

Factotum: Asia Cleggett, Grand Canyon University

Predominantly Black cities and towns in the United States are continuously described as “dangerous”, “violent”, and “polluted”, while also suffering from the effects of economic inequities and gentrification. From Brooklyn to Oakland, from Detroit to New Orleans, this interdisciplinary course explores Black communities and our relationships with home, s/place, and cities in an era rife with systemic removal. Together, we explore the histories and representations of predominantly Black cities such as Detroit and New Orleans alongside our own home(s), to understand the politics of anti-Blackness. We ask and learn together about what it means to be “from” a place, while also acknowledging settler-colonialism, migration, and rejecting static notions of home. In this course, we work to disrupt damaged-centered narratives and instead prioritize humanizing narratives of joy and resistance around home.

While we use Black feminist geographies and critical literacies to explore these topics, we also consider community engagement, Indigenous land pedagogies, immigration, and more to read the ways in which people are challenging and disrupting anti-Black and settler colonialist rhetoric around s/place. This includes various forms of art, including music, podcasts, social media, television and film, poetry, non/fiction, digital mappings, and more. We will also work alongside the Detroit community and teaching artists to center community efforts and stories.

The learning goals for this course concern more than simply acquiring information; establishing a foundational language fosters crucial discussions about topics such as power, community, and social justice, as well as gentrification, marginalization, and anti-Blackness. Moreover, we hope students will begin to (re)conceptualize their own relationships with home and community. This course is critical during a time in which Black people and other people of color continue to question where is it safe to be Black, to be human, to be alive.