Fall 2020

Dirt 

At its most elemental level, dirt is soil or earth that grounds the living and harbors the dead. As land occupied, possessed or stolen, it may afford hospitality to strangers, or demarcate corporeal, geographic, and conceptual zones of exclusion. As symbolic currency, it is disseminated through gossip and threats of disorder, contagion, and pollution. Deemed dangerously “out of place” (Douglas 1966), it subtends logics of control, violence, and ostracism. This semester’s theme explores the material ecologies and symbolic currencies of filth, waste, toxicity, and contamination alongside attendant fantasies of purity, hygiene, and cleanliness to address and reframe a range of contemporary environmental and cultural urgencies bearing on bodies and borders, including histories of corporeal and cultural abjections and exclusions, environmental racisms and racist environments, the ethics of citizenship, and the global movements and plights of migrants and refugees. How has dirt been deployed both against and by indigenous, subaltern, post/neo/settler-colonial, refugee, immigrant, and queer communities, and what forms of violence and resistance has such thinking engendered? How might a subversive poetics of dirt reframe its symbolic potential, its capacity for instilling, but also for troubling, normative social, cultural, and aesthetic hierarchies? We invite inquiries into the uses and abuses of dirt, and its various political, religious, sexual, ethnic, racial and ecological significations considered from below, or from the ground up. 

9/7/2020

Detention Operations

ANGELA NAIMOU • Clemson University

9/14/2020

Queer Erotic Archives in Franco's Spain (1954-1979)

JAVIER FERNÁNDEZ GALEANO • Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Wesleyan

9/28/2020

Soil, The Black Archives

MARISA SOLOMON • Barnard College, Columbia University

10/5/2020

Lust Area

GREG GOLDBERG • Wesleyan University

10/12/2020 

Histories of Dirt in Lagos

STEPHANIE NEWELL • Yale University

 

10/19/2020

Anthropogenic Forms in Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being

AMY TANG • Wesleyan University

10/26/2020

Trashy Encounters: Modernity, the Great Pacific Garbage Gyre, and Indigenous Futures

YU-TING HUANG  • Wesleyan University

11/9/2020

Getting Our Hands Dirty: Manual Labor Schools, Abolition, and the Empire of Benevolence

KHALIL JOHNSON • Wesleyan University 

11/16/2020

“Bob Did Bad Things”: Indigenous Lives as Dirt and as Ephemera in the Early 20th Century U.S.

TSIANINA LOMAWAIMA • Arizona State University

11/23/2020

Projected Resonances: Intersections of Sound, Performance, and Tourism Underground at Mammoth Cave

PAULA MATTHUSEN • Wesleyan University