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About this conference

Keynote Speakers: Michelle M. Wright, (Emory University), and Rafael Walker, (Baruch College, CUNY).

Join us for “Black Lives,” the annual English Student Association Graduate Student Conference. “Black Lives” has emerged in recent years as a conceptual touchstone following the wake of Black Lives Matter, a galvanizing social movement of public protest against the persistence of institutionalized forms of anti-black violence that besiege Black individuals and communities on a daily basis, both within the United States and across a range of geopolitical contexts. The phrase implicitly challenges nationalist and global concepts of humanity that do not include blackness as a viable sign of life and citizenship. As critics such as Paul Gilroy, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Robert Reid-Pharr and  Henry Louis Gates Jr. have noted, “universal humanism” has been historically built upon a constitutive rejection of black being. To push back against such entrenched conceptual repudiations of black particularity, we take a cue from Jamaican philosopher and novelist Sylvia Wynter, who argues that black particularity paradoxically retains a utopian impulse for recognizing “our collective agency and authorship of our genres of being human” (2006). We intend for the conference to respond to the urgent need to think about the impact and meaning of “Black Lives” both as a touchstone for contemporary activism as well as a scholarly heuristic for research across a range of fields and disciplines. By doing so, we hope to make resonant the potentiality of blackness to signify as a radical node of meaning and being across a range of identitarian and relational articulations.

For more information about this conference, visit the official conference website here.

Presented by The English Student Association and the PhD Program in English at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

Co-sponsored by the Doctoral Students’ Council, the Center for the Humanities, the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora In The Americas & The Caribbean (IRADAC), the Postcolonial Studies Group (PSG), the Twentieth Century Area Studies Group, and the American Studies Area Group.