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  • Monday, November 5, 2018 - 5:15pm to 7:00pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center, 6th Floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

We will be welcoming Margo Natalie Crawford for a talk entitled: “The Textual Production of a Shared Black Edge.” Margo writes:

What makes a book feel “black”? If the idea of the “black book” gains the most traction during the 1960s and 70s Black Arts Movement, the frustration with the “black book” is gaining the most traction in the first decades of the 21st century. Through a focus on texts such as Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child, Percival Everett’s Erasure, and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, I argue that the twenty-first century heightened impulse to defamiliarize the black book is decentering the black interior and producing a shared textual edge where surface is worked for its most radical possibilities. The 21st century idea of African American literature is now emerging as the feeling of being bored with the idea of the black book. This boredom with the black book has led to a 21st century reworking of paratext as not a way of pulling readers into a black interior, but rather a way of pulling readers out of “black narrative” and into edgy zones where black affect is as stable and unstable as electricity.

Margo Natalie Crawford (Professor of English) is the author of Black Post-Blackness: The Black Arts Movement and Twenty-First-Century Aesthetics (2017), Dilution Anxiety(2008), and the coeditor, with Lisa Gail Collins, of New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement (2006). Her latest work, Global Black Consciousness, co-edited with Salah Hassan, is forthcoming in 2019. Her essays appear in a wide range of books and journals, including American Literary History, American Literature, The Psychic Hold of Slavery, The Trouble with Post-Blackness, The Modernist Party, Publishing Blackness: Textual Constructions of Race Since 1850, The Cambridge Companion to American Poetry Post-1945, Want to Start a Revolution?: Radical Women in Black Freedom Struggle, Callaloo, Black Renaissance Noire, and Black Camera. She is now completing What is African American Literature?, a reconsideration of the role of textual production, diasporic tensions, and affect in the shaping of the “idea” of African American literature.

All are welcome! Those who do not hold University of Pennsylvania ID cards should bring another form of photo identification in order to enter the library building.


Sep. 17: Nicholas Herman (Penn): “The Book-Shaped Object in Renaissance Europe”

Sep. 24, 25, 27 - Rosenbach Lectures: Carlo Ginzburg (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa): Fossils, Apes, Humans: A Chapter in the History of Science, Revisited

- Sep. 24: “Paleontology and Connoisseurship”

- Sep. 25: “Gods, Humans, Apes: Art History and Evolution”

- Sep. 27: “Medals and Shells: On Morphology and History, Once Again”

Oct. 1: Whitney Trettien (Penn): “Digital Book History”

Oct. 8: Priyasha Mukhopadhyay (Yale): “Unread: A History of the Book in Colonial South Asia”

Oct. 15: J.M. Duffin (Penn): “Draining the Swamp of Arcane Legal Text: Reclaiming the Geography of Eighteenth Century Philadelphia”

Oct. 22: Katie Chenoweth (Princeton): “Printers’ Devices, or, How French Got Its Accents”

Oct. 29: Sarah Guérin (Penn): “On Ivory, Wax, and Paint: New Insights on Devotional Booklets”

Nov. 5: Margo Natalie Crawford (Penn): “The Textual Production of a Shared Black Edge

Nov. 12: David Norbrook (Oxford): “‘But a copie’: Lucy Hutchinson’s Life in her Texts”

Nov. 19: Samantha Sommers (Ohio State): “Reading in Books”

Nov. 26: Gary Dyer (Cleveland State): “John Hunt's Lord Byron"

Dec. 3: Mitch Fraas (Penn): “Boilerplate: Documentation, Paperwork, and the Persistence of Form across the Early Modern and Modern Worlds”

Dec. 10: Arthur Kiron (Penn): “Hidden in Plain Sight: Christian Readers of Rabbinic Literature in the Colonial Americas”