AiR Project: Artists in Residence / Artists in Resistance invites contemporary writers whose work addresses ongoing racial and colonial struggle in North America to speak, read, and engage in undergraduate classrooms across CUNY. Referencing a legacy of writers teaching radical pedagogy at CUNY including poets like June Jordan, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich, the AiR Project aims to introduce students to writing as a form of deep questioning.

This research team is led by Teaching Fellow Daisy Atterbury, Department of English, Graduate Center, CUNY.

More info

The AiR Project is organized around Atterbury’s course, “Talking at the Boundaries: American Literature and the Archive” at Queens College. The course, a methods course in the discipline of English, privileges a "poetics" of narrative disruption and strategic intervention “at the boundaries” of voicing, media, genre and literary canon. Every text assigned is aimed to aid the group in thinking deeply about language and power. Students approach "the archive" as a tool that can be of use to consider culturally-imposed notions of gender, sexuality, race, class and citizenship as inputs that determine or complicate our relationship to the language(s) of power. The course centers readings that address US settler colonial histories as well as literary works that build, create or sometimes destroy their own archives.

Core research questions include:

+  What is writing and how does it help us construct and deconstruct identity?

How does our own writing connect us to ways of reading the world through cultural, economic, political, social, historical and other lenses?

+  How does language shape how we think and learn and write?        

This work means recognizing that classrooms can be sites of trauma and foreclosure as much as they can be sites of possibility.  Engaging with invited writers and editors like Yasamin Ghiasi and Mirene Arsanios in an intimate classroom setting, students take part in challenging discussions on topics such as diaspora, race and multilingualism in writing.

As a result of the project, several students have expressed a desire to continue with writing as form of a social and political engagement. "Constraints" such as language barriers, bilingualisms, and lack of "fluency" have often made this seem impossible. AiR’s visiting writers and editors often reframe these perceived barriers as strengths, from aids in cultural and political critique to assets in teaching, writing, and world-building.  

What we do

+  Bring writers for formal visits to the “Talking at the Boundaries” classroom at Queens College, CUNY

Bridge connections between undergraduate writing students at Queens College and Brooklyn College by inviting one speaker to speak to engage both classes in person and in an assignment series that puts students across CUNYs into conversation with one another online.

+  Create dialogue between students in English and Art at Queens through joint student-centered activities, such as an event with Social Practice Queens at the Godwin-Turnbach Museum at Queens College (Fall 2017).

+  Engage doctoral students in open-ended inquiry, including assisting and participating in PoeticCitizenshipToday.mp3 and QueensEnglishToday.mp3 events directed by Mellon Faculty Kyoo Lee.

+ Support the Arete Project and Inian Islands Institute in reserving two spots for CUNY undergraduates in its summer program in ecology, labor and self-governance.