The CUNY Graduate Center Twentieth Century Area Studies Group Speaker Series Spring 2012
Terry Rowden (College of Staten Island, CUNY)
Friday, April 27th, 12-2pm, Room 5409
Looking beyond concepts like post-Civil Rights, post-Negritude, postrace, and postblack, in this paper I will conceptualize the term “Metablackness” as a way of considering the emergence of a new type of aesthetic and performative double-consciousness that, I believe, is rapidly becoming the dominant mode in African American creative culture. I will argue that in the U.S. the eradication of the last vestiges of de jure racism in the 1960s introduced the “play” into the structure that has enabled more existentially and representationally self-conscious types of black self-fashioning and artistic production. Tracing a line from the essentially metablack work of Ishmael Reed to the generatively metablack dynamics of hip-hop, I will consider the ways in which a growing number of contemporary black artists ground their texts or performances in referential, intertextual, or satirical engagements with key tropes of African American culture in ways that fundamentally destabilize the notions of authenticity that have historically bedeviled African American creative artists in their movement beyond folk or assimilationist expressivity. In closing, I will posit that because, historically, calcified enactments of stereotyped notions of blackness have rendered blacks such easy targets for racist practices, African American social subjectivity has always been a much more motile and hybridized construct than fetishizations of Africanity, authenticity, and/or monoculturalism have lead us to believe.
Terry Rowden is associate professor of English at The College of Staten Island where he teaches and does research in the fields of African American literature and popular culture, continental philosophy and cultural theory, and global cinema. He is the author of The Songs of Blind Folk: African American Musicians and the Cultures of Blindness (University of Michigan Press, 2009) and co-editor of Transnational Cinema: The Film Reader (Routledge, 2006). His work has appeared in the collections Postcolonial Diasporas (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), Shifting Landscapes: Film and Media in European Context (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008) and in the journals Southern Review, MELUS, English Language Notes, College Literature, Scope: An Online Journal of Film and TV Studies, and Black Camera: An International Film Journal.
Lunch will be provided.
Sponsored by the 20th Century Studies Student Area Group and The Africana Studies Group (DSC Chartered Organizations)