2020 Flexner Courses
During the 2020-21 academic year, Bryn Mawr faculty members will teach seven courses that will engage Fred Moten's Flexner lectures and/or the larger body of his work. Professor Moten will virtually visit each class during his Flexner residency to participate in class discussion.
Assistant Professor of Dance Lela Aisha Jones
Diasporic Bodies, Citizenship, and Dance
Take a journey through citizenship, belonging and revolutions, guided by the lived experiences of prominent teachers, choreographers, and performers of traditional and contemporary dances of Black and African descent. Our theory and practice frameworks are grounded in women and LGBTQ+ scholars and dance artists navigating diasporic blackness, citizenship, and nationhood. We will centralize the notion that, Black Life is Tied to All Life, investigating the significance of developing philosophies and practices of integrity, as well as boundary-breaking transformations when traversing dance/movement as a nomadic practice in a globalized world.
Jennifer Harford Vargas, Associate Professor of English and Co-Director of the Latin American, Latina/o and Iberian Studies Program
Methods of Literary Study
This course will be centering the critical and creative work of Fred Moten. The class will consider a range of theories of race, power, ideology, gender, sexuality, ability, and narrative form. Students will look at a range of creative writings (across literary genres including film) by Black, Latinx, Asian American, and and Native American writers.
Lecturer in History of Art Matthew Feliz
Identity in Film and Modern Art
Alessandro Giammei, Assistant Professor of Italian and Italian Studies
Black, Queer, Jewish Italy
This seminar approaches the two most studied phases of Italian history, the Renaissance and the 20th century, by placing what we call ‘otherness’ at the center of the picture rather than at its supposed margins. The main aim is to challenge traditional accounts of Italian culture, and to look at pivotal events and phenomena (the rise of Humanism, the rise of fascism, courtly culture, the two World Wars, 16th century art, futurism) from the point of view of black, queer, and Jewish protagonists, authors, and fictional characters. Our theoretical bedrock will be offered by modern and contemporary thinkers such as Fred Moten, Antonio Gramsci, Edie Segdwick, and Hannah Arendt. Our primary sources will come from cultural epicenters of Renaissance, Baroque, and late Modern Italy, such as Leo X papal court, fascist Ferrara, 17th century Venice, and colonial Libya. In class, we will adopt a trans-historical, intersectional, and interdisciplinary perspective inspired by Fred Moten’s work, which will serve as the poetic common ground for our investigations.
Assistant Professor of Sociology Piper Sledge
Making Sense of Race
What is the meaning of race in contemporary US and global society? How are these meanings (re)produced, resisted, and refused? What meanings might we desire or imagine as alternatives? In this course, we will approach these questions through an array of sources while tracking our own thinking about and experiences of raced-ness. Course material will survey sociological notions of the social construction of race, empirical studies of lived experiences of race, and creative fiction and non-fiction material intended to catalyze thinking about alternative possibilities.
Associate Professor of Political Science Joel Alden Schlosser
"I’m here to announce that the formation of a new political party,” Fred Moten begins his essay “Air Shaft, Rent Party.” “This party is new because it’s not political. This is the new political party to end all political parties.” This course seeks to convene a study group for the anti-political party. Following Moten’s lead, we will take our orientation from the jazz tradition, locating “study” in Black study and to “think[ing] study through jazz,” as Stefano Harney has put it, with the work of Moten, Fumi Okijii on Adorno’s critique of jazz, and Angela Davis on the blues tradition. Then we will turn to a series of European thinkers – Agamben and Rancière chief among them – who have developed theories of the abundance of the ignorant and “inappropriable” in ways that parallel Black Studies’ “study.” Drawing these two traditions of study together (in frictive tension), we will close by examining the social and anti-political dimensions of study with Harney and Moten as well as the writings of Grace Lee and James Boggs, Myles Horton, Paulo Friere, and Ella Baker.
C.C. McKee, Assistant Professor History of Art
Black Atlantic Performances, Black Personhood
This course takes up the visual and textual records that preserve black performances of fugitivity–the status of existing outside state and legal structures constructed to extinguish racialized life–and fungibility–the status of the slave as an object of saleable property rather than a person imbued with subjectivity–during the long nineteenth century (ca. 1750-1900). During the semester we will interrogate a diverse set of objects and texts from throughout the Atlantic World, spanning the United States, Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. Examples of what I term “performances of black personhood” will include: slave gardens in the Francophone Caribbean; architecture in post-revolutionary Haiti; the popular performances and imagery of Sara “Saartjie” Baartman in the 1810s; the slave narratives of Mary Prince, Harriet Jacobs, and Henry “Box” Brown; William Wells Brown’s panoramic exhibition the Mirror of Slavery; a photographic album recording the violence of the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica; and the “Negro Villages” [Villages nègres] included at the 1878 and 1889 Parisian World’s Fairs among other selected cases.