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University of Pennsylvania
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3340 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6273
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Fax: (215) 573-2063

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Thursday, November 20, 2014
401 Fisher-Bennett Hall

Michelle A. Stephens, Associate Professor of English, Rutgers University

Professor Stephens describes her talk:

I'll be exploring how we might shift to seeing race, blackness, as having to do with a broad array of embodied experiences that fall under the general term of affect. Another way of putting this might be to say: Is there a difference between being black, ie. identity, and feeling black, the latter resting on the sense of a black body that is more, experiences more, than the gaze can see.

Originally from Jamaica, West Indies, Michelle A. Stephens graduated from Yale University with a Ph.D. in American Studies and teaches courses in African American, American, Caribbean and Black Diaspora Literature and Culture. She is the author of Black Empire: The Masculine Global Imaginary of Caribbean Intellectuals in the United States, 1914 to 1962 (Duke University Press, 2005) and a member of the editorial collective of the Radical History Review. She also co-edited the special issue of the Radical History Review, “Reconceptualizations of the African Diaspora” (Jan 2009). Currently, she is working on two projects: a book entitled, “Skin Acts: New World Black Male Performance and the Desire for Difference,” in which she uses both psychoanalysis and the study of race as a discourse to analyze select performances of four twentieth century black actors and singers, Bert Williams, Paul Robeson, Harry Belafonte & Bob Marley. A second project, "Women in Worlds of Color," explores writings by and about women in the societies created at the convergence of race, sexuality and labor in the New World.

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Photo caption: Francis Daniel Pastorius, Beehive manuscript, 1696-1865, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania.