Dikes of courage: Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement and the aesthetics of protest
- DIKES OF COURAGE
23 Novembro, 2018 - 24 Novembro, 2018
9:00 - 19:00
DIKES OF COURAGE: MARTIN LUTHER KING, THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT AND THE AESTHETICS OF PROTEST
23/24 November 2018
Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Nova University of Lisbon
Jeanne Theoharis (Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College of City University of New York)
Author or co-author of seven books and numerous articles on the civil rights and Black Power movements, the politics of race and education, social welfare and civil rights in post-9/11 America. Her widely-acclaimed biography The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks won a 2014 NAACP Image Award and the Letitia Woods Brown Award from the Association of Black Women Historians; it appeared on the New York Times bestseller list and was named one of the 25 Best Academic Titles of 2013 by Choice. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, The Nation, Slate, the Atlantic, Boston Review, Salon, the Intercept, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Her new book A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History came out in January from Beacon Press.
Isabel Caldeira (Associate professor of American Studies at the Faculty of Letters and Senior Research Fellow of the Center for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal)
She teaches American literature and culture at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and Feminist Studies at the PhD level. Her research fields are African American Literature and Culture, literatures of the African Diaspora, Inter-American Studies, Comparative Studies, and Feminist Studies. Among her publications: “‘What moves at the margin’: Toni Morrison, bell hooks e Ntozake Shange”, The Edge of One of Many Circles, which she also co-edited (Coimbra: Imprensa da UC, 2017, 140-162); “Toni Morrison and Edwidge Danticat: Writers-as-Citizens of the African Diaspora”, Companion to Inter-American Studies, ed. Wilfried Raussert, NY: Routledge, 2017, 207-218; with Gonçalo Cholant, “Homeland (in)security: African Americans in a ‘Racial House’ Called America”, Anglo Saxonica III, 14, 2017; “Memory is of the Future: Tradition and Modernity in Contemporary Novels of Africa and the African Diaspora”, e-cadernos ces 26 (2016): 68-91; contributed to America Where? 20th-Century Transatlantic Perspectives (Peter Lang, 2012), which she also co-edited; Translocal Modernisms: International Perspectives (Peter Lang, 2008); Trans/Oceanic, Trans/American, Trans/lation: Issues in International American Studies (Cambridge Scholars, 2009). She is a former President of APEAA and a former member of the Board of EAAS. She was editor-in-chief of Op.Cit.: Journal of Anglo-American Studies. She is the President elect of the International Association of Inter-American Studies (IAS/EIA).
Fifty years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s is frequently memorialized as a moment of almost inevitable national redemption, when a call to the better angels of American consciousness brought the country together to overcome injustices that no longer plague the present. As historian Jeanne Theoharis argues in A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History (2018), this interpretative frame has frequently constructed a self-congratulatory discourse that whitewashes the immense obstacles and violence faced by the Civil Rights Movement and its leaders, rather than soberly remember the “dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear” that, in Dr. King’s words, the movement demanded of its activists, and measure the incompleteness of what was then achieved. This process is seen in the yearly appeals to depoliticize Martin Luther King Day in the name of national unity and reconciliation as well as in efforts to decouple the most successful social movement of the twentieth century from contemporary protests against lingering racial injustice (such as Black Lives Matter), often accused of distorting a sanitized version of its legacy.
The Conference invites reflections on the representation of the Civil Rights Movement not only in American historiography but also in public and media discourses, literature, visual culture, and filmic, musical and televisual texts produced in the last fifty years. It encourages an approach that goes beyond the understanding of these texts as artifacts that produce social memory to ask how they illuminate debates about the aesthetics of protest, the relationship between activism and art, the collective and the personal, the politics of identity and intergenerational remembering. It also welcomes approaches that identify the networks between pasts and presents, following Ashraf Rushdy’s concept in Remembering Generations (2001), of African-American cultural texts constituting a palimpsest where what has happened in other spaces and times becomes experientially available, examining both the creative dialogues between the Civil Rights Movement artists and their predecessors of the Harlem Renaissance and beyond, and the aesthetic frames used by the contemporary generations of “post-black” artists and writers to invoke and reimagine that legacy. It is also interested in comparative approaches that explore the influence of the African-American civil rights praxis and aesthetics of protest in other campaigns for equality that emerged during and after the 1960s, namely Native-American, Asian-American, Latino/a and LGBTQ movements.
The following topics are a sample of the broad scope of concerns the Conference welcomes:
African-American literature and the Civil Rights Movement
The Neo-slave narratives of the 1960s and after
The Black Arts Movement
African-American theater and civil rights: from Lorraine Hansberry to Suzan-Lori Parks
Music and civil rights: from “Mississippi Goddam” to Motown
Visual arts and civil rights: from the Spiral Group to Basquiat and Kara Walker
The Civil Rights Movement on the big and small screen
Civil Rights Movement in biography and memoir
African-American feminism in the Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement in African-American satire
Afrofuturism: The Civil Rights Movement and speculative fiction
Writing against race? Contemporary “post-black” literature
Representing the Civil Rights Movement in the media: journalism and photojournalism
Whitewashing the Civil Rights Movement: contemporary political discourses
The Civil Rights Movement in Southern literature
The influence of the Civil Rights Movement in other American Equal Rights campaigns
Black Lives Matter and the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement
Looking from a distance: the international impact of the Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement in World Literature
The Civil Rights Movement in translation
International approaches to teaching the Civil Rights Movement
This Conference is organized by the `American Intersections’ strand of CETAPS.
A selection of papers presented at the Conference will be published in bookform
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- 30 Euros (student fee)
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