Past Event

Read Until you Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life & Literature

September 21, 2021
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
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IRAAS Conversations

"Read Until you Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life & Literature"

author, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Columbia University
discussants: Daphne A.  BrooksYale University and    Imani D. Owens, Rutgers University

Cosponsor: Columbia University School of the Arts
Cosponsor: Institute for Comparative Literature & Society - Columbia University

Farah Jasmine Griffin was the inaugural Chair of the African American and African Diaspora Studies Department at Columbia University.  She is the William B. Ransford Professor of English & Comparative Literature. ans African American & African Diaspora Studies.  Professor Griffin received her B.A. from Harvard and her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale.   Griffin is the author of Who Set You Flowin?: The African American Migration Narrative (Oxford, 1995), Beloved Sisters and Loving Friends:   Letters from Rebecca Primus of Royal Oak, Maryland, and Addie Brown of Hartford Connecticut, 1854-1868 (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday (Free Press, 2001) and co-author, with Salim Washington, of Clawing At the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and the Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever (Thomas Dunne, 2008). Harlem Nocturne:  Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II, was published by Basic Books in 2013.

Griffin collaborated with composer, pianist, Geri Allen and director, actor S. Epatha Merkerson on two theatrical projects, for which she wrote the book:  The first, “Geri Allen and Friends Celebrate the Great Jazz Women of the Apollo,” with Lizz Wright, Dianne Reeves, Teri Lyne Carrington and others, premiered on the main stage of the Apollo Theater in May of 2013. The second, “A Conversation with Mary Lou” featuring vocalist Carmen Lundy, premiered at Harlem Stage in March 2014 and was performed at The John F. Kennedy Center in May of 2016.  Her newly published book, Read Until You Understand:  The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature was published by W.W. Norton this  September, 2021.

Daphne A. Brooks is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of African American Studies, American Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Music at Yale University. She is the author of Bodies in Dissent:  Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 (Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2006), winner of The Errol Hill Award for Outstanding Scholarship on African American Performance from ASTR; Jeff Buckley’s Grace (New York: Continuum, 2005) and Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound (Harvard University, February 2021).  Brooks is currently editing an anthology of essays forthcoming from Duke University Press and culled from Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign: Celebrating the Legacies of David Bowie and Prince, aninternational 3-day conference and concert which she curated.

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Imani D. Owensis assistant professor of English at Rutgers University. She specializes in African American and Caribbean literature, music, and performance, as well as histories of migration and empire in the global South.  She is currently at work on a book manuscript entitled Writing Crossroads: Folk Culture, Imperialism, and U.S.-Caribbean Literature, which charts discourses of folk culture, literary form, and anti-imperialist poetics in Caribbean and African American texts during the interwar period.

This event will  take place virtually over Zoom. Registration is required.
The event will be closed captioned. This event will be recorded and available on our YouTube channel

Please email [email protected] to request any additional disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.