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Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities



State Violence and the Arts of Attention in Contemporary Black Women's Writing

Erica Edwards • Yale University 

September 26th @ 6pm at Daniel Family Commons

Throughout the late twentieth and early twentieth centuries, attention was the violent form through which the government agencies, corporations, and media forms of the United States policed Black women's political and intimate lives. This talk considers how U.S. Black women writers transfigured state-mediated forms of attention--surveillance, panoptic carcerality, political spectacle, pop cultural celebration--into insurgent modes of survival and communal care. Discussing the arts of attention in writing by June Jordan, Gloria Naylor, Evie Shockley and others, this talk explores how contemporary Black women’s literature counters black women's hypervisuality with its figurations of obscurity, inscrutability, and communal vigilance. This helps us understand how attention functions as a technology both for multiscalar state violence and for individual and collective radical  practice.

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