2020 TASS Programs

2020 TASS Programs

Four TASS programs will be held in 2020, between June 21 and August 1.

You can read about the 2020 seminars by clicking on the tabs below.

Black Protest from Slavery to #BlackLivesMatter
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
June 21 – August 1, 2020

Faculty: Alisha Marie Gaines, Florida State University, and Dennis Tyler Jr., Fordham University

Factotum: TBA


The history of Black cultural production in the United States is a legacy of protest. Since Black bodies were first considered property and then only fractionally human, claiming personhood through arts and letters is a revolutionary act. This course will consider the canon of African American literature through an expansive definition of protest. We will theorize how the definition of protest has evolved since the 18th century while continuing to inform our own sociopolitical moment. We will find protest in both obvious and unlikely places—from the seemingly conservative poetry of Phillis Wheatley to the nearly instantaneous archive of resistance enabled by social media and 21st century screen technologies. As we interrogate the meanings of Blackness and protest, we will also reveal how that history has consistently shaped American identity. Throughout the course, we will encounter narrative, memoir, essay, speeches, poetry, and film.

 

Testify: The Politics of Imagination, Fantasy, and Magic
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
June 21 – August 1, 2020

Faculty: Jasmine Jay and Cristina Correa, Cornell University

Factotum: TBA


Upon hearing the word “testify,” what leaps to mind? Perhaps you see a witness in a court of law swearing the truth onto a Bible, or hear a pastor and gospel choir laying out the soundtrack of “testifyin” in an African American church. Rooted in these denotations is the act of stating fact and bearing witness, or speaking the truth we see into reality. In this course, we will consider how some versions of the truth allow people who have been made marginal to imagine and create alternative, centralized realities. We will consider how fantastical thinking can offer us new ways of seeing—or testifying to—realities that we want to realize, as well as those we cannot escape. 

Our analysis will be anchored in tracing the meaning of testimony through the texts, images, and sounds of Black feminism, Afro-futurism, religious and magical traditions, horror and fantasy, testimonio literature, eco- and confessional poetics, among other mediums of thought. Through these imaginative wellsprings, we will get curious about our relationship to Blackness as something both brought into existence by bearing witness, and something that can be revolutionized by bearing witness. 

Assignments will center on the magical possibilities of testimonies that prioritize underrepresented subjects while offering a practice in the incantatory and world-building capacities of writing. Specifically, we will take walks in nature as a form of meditative thinking, close read tweets and music videos, write a film adaptation, and read our own poetry in public as a way of putting testimony into practice. All events and practices will culminate in a performative and group-imagined capstone project.

 

Motor Culture(s): Race, Ethnicity and Transportation in the United States
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
June 21 – August 1, 2020

Faculty: William A. Calvo-Quirós and Kris Klein Hernández, University of Michigan

Factotum: TBA

This class critically analyzes and studies the history and evolution of transportation and motor cultures in the United States (and Michigan). Specifically, it examines the effects of transportation on communities of color within the late 19th century leading up to the 21st century. It uses the intersections of gender, class, race, and history as points of departure to understand the unique relationship between the United States and transportation industry. In particular, this class explores how transportation developments—such as the creation of highways, road taxes, and suburbs—also led to conditions of inequality, promoted urban segregation and isolation, stunted social and labor mobility, and promoted notions of social engineering for African Americans, Latina/os, and Native Americans.  As the class will show, trains, cars, and busses as everyday ubiquitous cultural products reflect America’s own racial, gender, and classed history. 

This class explores trains, cars, and busses not just as transportation devices, but rather as a system of meanings and values influenced by economic, political, and social forces.  Consequently, in order to understand the impact of transportation, the class explores not only issues related to car history, car design, but also the impact of WWII, national policies of economic development and urban planning around the development of freeways, the practices of racial profiling created by police ticket stops, gasoline taxation, racialization of car customizations, and the future of driverless vehicles.

 


AfroAsian Cultures and Media
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
June 21 – August 1, 2020

FacultyJoo Young Lee, University of Michigan, and Myra Washington, University of New Mexico

Factotum: TBA


This course explores the ways in which AfroAsian relations, diasporic African and Asian identities, and Blasians have been represented and constituted in global media, from print media, films to performing on YouTube. Through the mediation of AfroAsian identities and relations in films, television shows, magazines, graphic novels, music, and digital media, the course explores how these racially, ethnically, culturally, nationally, and regionally distinctive identities are formed, perpetuated, maintained, and challenged in different forms of media and culture. This course draws upon diverse theoretical frames and literatures to map the terrain of hybrid, multicultural, multiracial, and transnational identity constructions in popular culture. Throughout the semester we ask the following questions: How are AfroAsian identities culturally expressed and produced through binaries and fusions? How has this popular culture expression of identities developed over time? What are the possibilities of an Afro/Asian coalition beyond popular culture? Through examining these questions, we will develop tools to analyze media representations and understand key issues in historical and contemporary experiences of African Americans, Asian Americans, Black and Asian Diasporas, and Blasians. These include race, gender, citizenship, globalization, interracial relationship, and mixed race identity.