Nonfiction: Revolutionizing American Studies seminar series

The Fall lineup with the Revolutionizing American Studies seminar at the CUNY Graduate Center, organized by Kandice Chuh and Duncan Faherty has been announced!  All lectures will be held in the CUNY Graduate Center.  To access reading material for lectures and to register, visit the Center for Humanities site.
14 September – Christopher Ianinni, “Bartram’s *Travels* and the Natural History of West Indian Slavery”Public Lecture: 4p, English Lounge (Room 4406.3)Christopher Iannini is an associate professor of English at Rutgers University.  He is a specialist in colonial and nineteenth century American literature, with strong interests in the history of science, Caribbean studies, and Atlantic studies.  Widely published in numerous critical journals, he is the author of Fatal Revolutions: Natural History, West Indian Slavery, and the Routes of American Literature (UNC Press, 2012).This talk is drawn from Iannini’s recently published book Fatal Revolutions: Natural History, West Indian Slavery, and the Routes of American Literature (UNC Press, 2012). Broadly described, the book traces the relationship between two dramatic transformations in the history of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world–the growth of the West Indian plantation as a new kind of social institution and economic engine, and the rise of natural history as a new scientific discipline, intellectual obsession, and literary form. Iannini argues that these transformations were inextricably linked and that together the established fundamental conditions for what we might call “the practice of letters” in the colonial Americas. This talk provides a case study within this longer history by focusing on William Bartrams *Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida* (1791), long considered a foundational text for early American nature discourse.

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19 October – J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, “Hawaiian Indigeneity and the Contradictory Politics of Self-Determination”

Public Lecture:  4p, Location TBA

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui is an Associate Professor of American Studies and Anthropology at Wesleyan University.  She earned her PhD in History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2000. Kauanui is the author of Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity, published by Duke University Press, 2008. She is currently writing her second titled, Thy Kingdom Come? The Paradox of Hawaiian Sovereignty, which is a critical study on gender and sexual politics and the question of indigeneity in relation to state-centered Hawaiian nationalism.  Kauanui is the sole producer and host of a public affairs radio program, “Indigenous Politics: From Native New England and Beyond,” which is syndicated through the Pacifica radio network. She is also a member of The Dream Committee, an anarchist radio collective that produces a radio program called Horizontal Power Hour.  From 2005-2008, Kauanui was part of a six-person steering committee that worked to co-found the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) for which she also served as an acting council member, then as an elected member of the inaugural council from 2009-2012.

This lecture will explore the contestation over indigeneity and self-determination in the controversy over the state-drive push for a federally recognized Native Hawaiian Governing Entity within US domestic policy, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the Hawaiian Kingdom restoration movement.

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30 November – Hester Blum, “Oceanic American Studies”

Public Lecture: 4p, President’s Conference Room (8201.01)

Hester Blum is Associate Professor of English at the Pennsylvania State University and Interim Associate Director for the Penn State Institute for the Arts and Humanities. Her first book,The View from the Mast-Head: Maritime Imagination and Antebellum American Sea Narratives (University of North Carolina Press, 2008), received the John Gardner Maritime Research Award; she has also published a critical edition of William Ray’s Barbary captivity narrative Horrors of Slavery (Rutgers University Press, 2008). A founder of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, she is at work on a new book called Polar Imprints: The Print Culture of Arctic and Antarctic Exploration.

In the wake of the transnational or hemispheric “turn” in U.S. literary studies, we might ask what happens if our scholarly perspective is reoriented from the perspective of the sea. If methodologies of the nation and the post-nation have been land-locked, how would an oceanic turn allow us to explore new ways of thinking about familiar and unfamiliar texts in pre-1900 U.S. literature? “Oceanic American Studies” considers more specifically the unexplored possibilities that the Arctic and Antarctic regions offer to hemispheric or transnational conversations, as well as to more recent calls to reorganize critical thinking from a planetary perspective.

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