Language as a Site of Struggle

Language as a Site of Struggle: A Conversation with Lou Cornum, Jeffers Lennox, and Steve Lyons

Thursday, November 11, 2021 at 4:30pm
Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery

FREE! For Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff.

The "language in common" can be understood as a call for the left to create signs, symbols, and traditions that can both unify the movement and withstand attempts at co-option by the state and capital. The precedent for such an undertaking can be found in Indigenous cultures of protest and resilience, which have served to unite a movement without essentializing its participants.

A live conversation in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery on this topic will feature Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Native American Studies Lou Cornum, Associate Professor of History Jeffers Lennox, and artist and art historian Steve Lyons, a core member of Not An Alternative / The Natural History Museum, and co-author of the November 2020 e-flux Journal article "The Language in Common."

This event is held in conjunction with the exhibition The Language in Common, on display in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery from Tuesday, September 14 through Sunday, December 12, 2021. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Sunday from Noon to 5pm. For more information and related events, visit the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery exhibition page.

Lou Cornum is currently the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Native American Studies in the American Studies Department at Wesleyan University, where they are at work on their first book manuscript, Skin Worlds: Speculative Geographies Across Indigenous and Black Literatures. Their essays and art criticism can be found in Art in America, Frieze, Canadian Art, The New Inquiry, and Pinko: A Magazine of Gay Communism. They are an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, a two-spirit dyke, and an amateur mycologist.

Jeffers Lennox is an Associate Professor of History at Wesleyan University. He is the author of Homelands and Empires (University of Toronto Press, 2017) and North of America: Homelands, British Provinces, and Creating the United States (Yale University Press, 2022). His current book project explores the history of protest music in early America.

Steve Lyons is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics. He is also a core member of art/activist collective Not An Alternative, where he contributes to the ongoing project The Natural History Museum (2014-), a mobile and pop-up museum that highlights the socio-political forces that shape nature. Recent essays on art, left counter-power, and environmental justice have appeared in e-flux Journal, Journal of Curatorial Studies, Museum Activism (Routledge, 2019), and The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Art, Visual Culture, and Climate Change (Routledge, 2021).

This event is co-sponsored by the American Studies Department.

This exhibition and related events are supported by the Shapiro Center and Writing at Wesleyan, the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, the Thomas and Catherine McMahon Fund of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the History Department, the Latin American Studies Program, Connecticut Humanities, and the Center for the Arts. Additional support by Etant donnés Contemporary Art, a program developed by FACE Foundation, Villa Albertine and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, with lead funding from the French Ministry of Culture and Institut Français-Paris, Ford Foundation, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Chanel USA, and ADAGP.

The general public will be welcomed back to Wesleyan this fall to enjoy Center for the Arts outdoor programming and exhibitions in both the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery and the College of East Asian Studies Gallery at Mansfield Freeman Center. All patrons must adhere to and follow the University COVID-19 safety guidelines. Wesleyan requires all visitors to be fully vaccinated. All visitors will need to provide proof of having been fully vaccinated. Public health officials consider an individual to be fully vaccinated two weeks after their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Masks are required in all University buildings regardless of vaccination status. Indoor performances as well as special events, including opening receptions in the galleries, will be open to Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff. Vaccinated visitors may attend outdoor events and outdoor activities unmasked. Patrons under the age of 12 are required to wear a mask at outdoor events. Due to current CDC age limits on vaccinations, individuals under the age of 12 will not be permitted at indoor exhibitions.

Image: Among the common features of the general assemblies at Occupy Wall Street were choreographed hand signals, which were used to determine consensus in large crowds. Introduced during the M15 movement in Spain, these hand signals served a deliberative function, and they were also part of an array of common and recognizable elements echoed at occupations in Tunisia, Egypt, Spain, Greece, and the United States. Illustration by Ape Lad. Copyright: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).