Tag Archives: Housekeeping

Nervous Conditions/ First Paper (contcult)

Welcome to the postcolonialism unit. Monday we’ll discuss the first four chapters of Tsitsi Dangarembga‘s Nervous Conditions. Recall that the title of this book is from a phrase written by Jean-Paul Sartre in his introduction to Frantz Fanon‘s seminal Wretched of the Earth. You can read that introduction here.

Wednesday we’ll continue with NC, up to chapter 7.

Friday we’ll short for the book up to chapter 9.

Go to the Contemporary Culture page on this site to see the first paper prompt.

Manliness and Civilization

For Wednesday we’re reading the first chapter of Gail Bederman’s Manliness and Civilization. Of particular note is the distinction she makes between masculinity and manliness. Also, pay attention to her remarks on the concept of civilization. 

Friday we’ll move onto Chapter Two, which discusses Ida B. Wells’s anti-lynching crusade.

I’m amazed I need to say this, but please do not sleep in my class. Or text message. Or listen to music on your ipod. Or snort ketamine. Remember:  because we are here others are not. Other people who would like to be here are flipping burgers, folding sweaters at The Gap, fueling F-15s, or cleaning toilets. 

Finally, the name of the documentary we screened in class is Unforgivable Blackness. I highly recommend it.

VIAL: This Week

On Friday we talked about Chapter 11 of Angela Davis’s Women, Race and Class which discusses “the myth of the Black rapist”. Any dialog on the issue of rape, I argued, ought to begin with three propositions: 1) rape is a male crime: the overwhelming majority of rapes are committed by men 2) rape is a matter of power not sex 3) very likely you know someone who has been the victim of rape or an attempted rape. You can find some statistics here and here.

Remember that the purpose of Davis’s discussion of the “myth of the Black rapist” is to examine how class, race, and gender come together in the realm of politics, in this case in the attempt to maintain white supremacy in the post-Reconstruction South. That theme– how fundamental categories of human experience and identity are mobilized for political reasons, and how they play out in the culture at large– is one that Gail Bederman picks up in Manliness and Civilization, the first chapter of which was assigned for Monday.

Kyle wrote in to say regarding the lynching of James Byrd, 

“2 of the three men who were involved in that dragging, John King and Lawrence Russell Brewer, both ex-cons connected with white supremacist prison gangs, were sentenced to death. The third, Shawn Allen Berry recieved life in prison.”

Here’s an article from the World Socialist Web Site written around the time of the atrocity. Note the effort to contextualize this event in terms of history and social forces.

I was somewhat confused when I suggested that Emmet Till’s killers were eventually brought to justice. That was not the case, as this timeline indicates. I think I had in mind one of the men who blew up the 16th Street Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama– Bobby Frank Cherry, who died in prison in 2002. The Birmingham bombing occurred in an area of town that came to be known as “Dynamite Hill” because of the prevalence of bombings during the Civil Rights Era. (Angela Davis grew up there as well.) Cherry’s victims were 4 Little Girls— Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair.

Next Week (contcult)

Try to read Waiting for the Barbarians in its entirety as quickly as possible. Likely this will take you about 4 or possibly 5 hours.  All next week we will be discussing this work and the issue of Empire. Unavoidably, we will also discuss torture. If you are interested in the issue of torture as it is currently being “debated” and practiced as a component of US foreign policy, then go to the page on this website titled The Question. 

Monday we will discuss the first chapters of the book

Wednesday we will continue our discussion of WFB in light of Coetzee’s essay “Into the Dark Chamber.”

Friday we will pursue or discussions further, and with any luck have time to include Harold Pinter’s 2005 Nobel Laureate speech.

Next Week (VIAL)

This Q&A with critics, musicologists, and academics such as Mel Watkins and Eric Lott covers some of the basic questions surrounding minstrelsy. Worth checking out.

For next week:

Monday: we’ll take a quiz on Bamboozled and discuss the first essay in Angela Davis’s Women Race & Class.

Wednesday: discussion of chapter 2 of WRC.

Friday: discussion of chapter 5 of WRC.