“Black” British Aesthetics Today:
The Howard University Symposium
Howard University
The Blackburn Center, Saturday, April 8, 2006



(Funded by a Grant from the Provost’s Fund for Academic Excellence)


Diran Adebayo

Diran Adebayo, the Dinner Speaker for this symposium, has been hailed as one of the most original young literary talents around. His first book, the acclaimed Some Kind of Black, a 1990s coming of age story, broke new ground for the London novel, was longlisted for the Booker Prize and won him the Saga Prize, a Betty Trask Award, the Authors' Club's “Best First Novel” Award, and the Writers Guild’s “New Writer of the Year Award” for 1996. His next novel, My Once Upon A Time, which continues his chronicling of black British life, has also received rave reviews. It has been called "an exhilarating, magical fairytale for our times" and a novel that "turns the private eye genre on its head." Adebayo has also written stories for BBC TV and radio, has been a columnist for New Nation newspaper, and writes frequently on social and cultural issues for national newspapers ranging from The Guardian to The Daily Mail. In 2003, he co-edited New Writing 12 (Picador), an anthology that showcases new U.K. and Commonwealth writing. He is currently writing his third novel The Ballad of Dizzy and Miss P and a book of essays, Here is a Protest. He is a member of the national Council of the Arts Council of England. Of Nigerian parentage, Adebayo grew up and lives in London. He studied law at Oxford University. His elder brother, Yinka, writes children's books while another brother, Radio 5 presenter Dotun, founded and runs the independent publisher The X-Press.dizzy@diran.freeserve.co.uk / O.Adebayo@soton.ac.uk

Joan Anim-Addo

Joan Anim-Addo is Director of the Caribbean Studies Centre at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research interests include black women’s writing and the Black British presence. She has taught at Vassar College and lectured widely at universities in many countries, including SUNY Geneseo (USA), Turku ( Finland) and Trento ( Italy). Her publications include Haunted by History (poetry); Longest Journey: A History of Black Lewisham; Imoinda (a libretto); Centre Of Remembrance: Caribbean Women’s Literature; Touching the Body; and Janie That Cricketing Lady. j.anim-addo@gold.ac.uk

R. Victoria Arana

The organizer of this symposium, Victoria Arana is Professor of English at Howard University, where she teaches British literature, research methods, literary criticism/ theory, and travel writing. With Lauri Ramey, she co-edited Black British Writing (Palgrave Macmillan 2004) and has published on ‘black’ British writers in Write Black, Write British (2005, K. Sesay, ed.). She is currently researching, writing for, and editing the Dictionary of Literary Biography on Contemporary ‘Black’ British Writers as well as editing and writing for the Companion to 20th-Century World Poetry (NY: Facts on File, in preparation). rvarana@archeform.com

Floyd Coleman

Floyd Coleman has published and lectured on a variety of subjects, including African American murals, the Spiral Group, Elizabeth Catlett, jazz and the African American artist, Caribbean art, and art at historically black colleges and universities. Coleman is currently a professor of art history at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and serves as coordinator of the annual James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art. fcoleman@Howard.edu

Cheryl Finley

Cheryl Finley is an art critic, columnist and curator specializing in photography, African American art, cultural heritage tourism and the politics of memorialization.  She is the author of many books, articles and essays including Harlem Guaranteed: The Photographic Legacy of James VanDerZee. Finley is the co-founder (with Dr. Laura Wexler) of Photographic Memory Workshop at Yale University in 1998. The recipient of numerous awards and grants her research has been supported by, among others, the Ford Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts and the Mellon Foundation. An Assistant Professor of Art History and Visual Culture in the History of Art Department at Cornell University, Finley is currently completing a manuscript on the cultural history of the slave ship icon. cf86@cornell.edu 

Anthony Joseph

Anthony Joseph is a poet, musician, and lecturer. He was born in Trinidad and moved to the U.K. in his early 20s. He is the author of two poetry collections: Desafinado (1994) and Teragaton (1997). He is a touring writer with the British Council and performs and lectures internationally. At present he teaches creative writing at South Thames College, London. His new book, The African Origins of UFOs, is due this autumn. mail@anthonyjoseph.co.uk / www.anthonyjoseph.co.uk

Roshini Kempadoo

Roshini Kempadoo is a practitioner and lecturer in Media Production. She has exhibited nationally and internationally. Her solo retrospective show Roshini Kempadoo work:1990 – 2004 was recently exhibited at the Russell-Cotes Gallery, Bournmouth, U.K., having completed a tour in the U.K. Group shows include A Place Called Home , South Africa Art Gallery (SANG), Cape Town; and Techno Seduction, Cooper Union Art Gallery, New York. Publications include Roshini Kempadoo Work 1990 – 2004 , OVA (2004) and Roshini KempadooAutograph portfolio (1997). Kempadoo has presented her work and lectured at numerous events, including Black Diaspora Artists, Past and Present at Conway Hall, London; Visual Culture Colloquium, at Cornell University, U.S.A. She lectures at the University of East London. Currently completing a PhD at the Fine Art department, Goldsmiths College, London,

Roshini Kempadoo has been affiliated with the Format Partners Library in London and Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland. r.kempadoo@btinternet.com

Maria Helena Lima

Maria Helena Lima is a Brazilian who is an Associate Professor of English at SUNY-Geneseo. Her chapter “The Politics of Teaching Black and British” appears in Black British Writing, edited by R. Victoria Arana and Lauri Ramey (Palgrave 2004). Obsidian III’s special issue on Black British Writing (Fall 2004) features her article on Black British Women Writers and her interview with Kadija George Sesay. She has also published reviews of contemporary Black British fiction in SABLE, Wasafiri, and Humanitas. Her chapter on a prize-winning Black British writer, “‘Pivoting the Center’: The Fiction of Andrea Levy,” appears in Write Black, Write British: From Post Colonial to Black British Literature, edited by Kadija George (Hansib 2005). She translated and co-edited, with Miriam Alves, a bilingual anthology of short fiction by Afro-Brazilian Women: Women Righting/Mulheres Escrevendo ( London: Mango Publishing, 2005). Lima is currently working on a book of literary-critical interviews, Black Britons Writing.lima@geneseo.edu

Valerie Kaneko Lucas

Dr. Valerie Kaneko Lucas is Assistant Professor and Director of Outreach and Engagement in the Department of Theatre, College of the Arts, at the Ohio State University—Columbus.  She has published articles on the reception of East Asian theatre and identity formation in Black British, British Asian, and Asian American performance.  Her current research interests are in the areas of hybridity, contemporary British theatre, British Asian and Black British writers from the post-Empire Diaspora, and a comparative study of British Asian and Asian American theatres.  She is engaged in archival work at the Theatre Museum London documenting the work of Tara Arts, a pioneer in British Asian theatre.  lucas.219@osu.edu

Magdalena Maczynska

Magdalena Maczynska is a doctoral student at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Her scholarly interests include contemporary fiction, the history of the novel, and urban studies. She has published articles on the work of Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, and David Lodge. She is currently preparing to defend her dissertation on visionary satire in the contemporary London novel. Her new project is a study of post-secular urban writing. maczynska@cua.edu

Sheree Angela Mack

Sheree Mack graduated with an M.A. in Creative Writing from Northumbria University in 2003 and has started her doctoral study at Newcastle University, researching Black British women poets as well as producing her own poetry. She has been a secondary school teacher and is now a freelance writer. She is the creator and coordinator of identity on tyne, the only group in the North East providing a space exclusively for writers of colour. She has presented papers at various universities in Britain and has had her work published in creative and academic journals and anthologies. Sheree.Mack@newcastle.ac.uk

Amna Malik , Ph.D.

Amna Malik is a lecturer in Art History and Theory at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, London. Her doctoral research at the University of Essex was on surrealism and psychoanalysis; she has extended this interest to diaspora-based artistic practices and the relationship between art, identity politics and psychoanalysis. In 2004 she organized an international conference on the subject in collaboration with the Freud Museum: Art, Identity and the Unconscious in the Age of Trans-Nationalism brought together artists, theorists, and psychoanalysts. She has published articles on Shirin Neshat, Steve McQueen, and Lorna Simpson and written monographs on Alia Syed and Rosalind Nashashibi for Lux. Recent publications include “Alina Szapocznikow’s Abject Objects” in Stilled: Contemporary Still-life Photography by Women, edited by Christine Rolphe and Kate Newton, published by IRIS and Ffotogallery in December 2005, Abbas Kiarostami’s Romantic Conceptualism? ‘Portfolio’ April 2004. Forthcoming publications include “Isaac Julien’s Black Atlantic: A Reconsideration of ‘Looking for Langston’ 1989, Through Locational Identity” in Art History 2007; “Under the Eyes of Colossus: Zadoc Nava’s ‘Shadowlands’” in Portfolio June 2006; “Kara Walker’s black marks, white walls” in Shame and Sexuality, Psychoanalysis and Visual Culture, edited by Ivan Ward and Claire Pajaczkowska, to be published by the Freud Museum and Middlesex University, 2007. She was a panel member for the Jerwood Photography Prize in 2004 and is a regular contributor to Portfolio and Art Monthly. She has been invited to present papers on her research at the British Museum, TrAIN Research Centre at Chelsea College of Art, and Oxford Brookes. She is currently preparing a book on the subject of diaspora-based art practices, cultural politics, and psychoanalysis. amnamalik@mac.com

Valerie Mason-John (aka Queenie)

Valerie Mason-John has a Master’s in Creative Writing, Education and the Arts. She is a playwright and the author of the only non-fiction books that document the lives of African and Asian lesbians in Britain: Making Black Waves and Talking Black. She has published a collection of poetry, plays, and prose: Brown Girl in the Ring. Her debut novel Borrowed Body (2005) was highly praised and called the British Color Purple. She won the Windrush (Arts and Community Pioneer) Achievement Award in 2000. In addition to writing, she works as a trainer in anger management. Her most recent book which explores this theme, Detox Your Heart (2006), has won wide acclaim. www.valeriemason-john.co.uk / valerie.masonjohn@gmail.com

Courtney J. Martin

Courtney J. Martin is a doctoral candidate in the History of Art department at Yale University. In 2004, she curated an exhibition of artists’ books, The C Series, which traveled to the Nathan Cummings Foundation in New York and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, England. Her recent publications include “Post-Post Black: Senam Okudzeto in Basel” in NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art and “Sight Was Regulated, Shapes Were Continually Re-fashioned: Alia Syed’s Eating Grass” for the catalog of the 2006 Biennale of Sydney . Prior to entering Yale, she worked in the Media, Arts, and Culture unit of the Ford Foundation in New York City. courtney.martin@yale.edu

Michael McMillan

Michael McMillan is a writer, playwright, curator, and academic of Vincentian parentage. His plays and performance pieces have been produced and published extensively. He has edited several books, and his essays have appeared in numerous publications, journals, and magazines, both nationally and internationally. He is a Visiting Professor of Creative Writing (London College of Communication – University of the Arts) and doing an M.Phil./Ph.D. at Middlesex University, where he is affiliated as a Research Student/Tutor. He recently curated the very successful The ‘West Indian’ front room: Memories and Impressions of Black British Homes, (The Geffrye Museum October 2005-Feb 2006). m.mcmillan62@btinternet.com

Kobena Mercer

Kobena Mercer is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Visual Culture and Media at Middlesex University London. He has taught at New York University and University of California at Santa Cruz and has received research fellowships from Cornell University and the New School University in New York. He edited Black Film/British Cinema (1988), wrote Welcome to the Jungle (1994), and has contributed essays to Black Male (1994), Pictura Britannica (1997), Adrian Piper: A Retrospective (1999) and, most recently, to Art History, Aesthetics, Visual Studies (2002), and Looking Both Ways: Art of the Contemporary Black Diaspora (2004). He has published essays in several anthologies, including Art and It’s Histories: A Reader (1998), Visual Culture: The Reader (1999), The Third Text Reader on Art, Culture and Theory (2002), The Visual Culture Reader (2003, 2nd edition) and Theorising Diaspora (2003). In addition to producing monographic texts on many historical and contemporary artists (including James Van Der Zee, Adrian Piper, Isaac Julien, Keith Piper, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, and Moshekwa Langa), he reviewed the transnational, transgenerational, and interdisciplinary exhibit Documenta 11 in frieze n69 (2002), wrote the foreword to the exhibition catalogue Black Style (Victoria and Albert Museum, 2004), and contributed “Iconography After Identity” to Shades of Black (Duke University Press, 2005). His latest publication is Cosmopolitan Modernisms (2005) . He was awarded the very prestigious Clark Prize for Excellence in Art Writing in February 2006. mercerk@clara.co.uk

Deonne N. Minto

Deonne N. Minto is a Ph.D. candidate in the English department at the University of Maryland–College Park. She has published book reviews in the journals Contours and Sargasso and articles in the Encyclopedia of African American Literature and the journal The Explicator. Her research interests include literature of the Afro-Americas, gender and diaspora, and transnational feminism. She is currently co-editing a book on contemporary black Canadian cultural productions. dminto2001@yahoo.com

Darrell Newton

Darrell Newton is an assistant professor of Communication Arts at Salisbury University where he teaches Mass Communication, Media Criticism, Film Studies and Cultural theory. He currently has several publications under review including Re-viewing Television History: Critical Issues in Television Historiography, “The 1950s, BBC Television and Social Impact: Special Inquiry and the West Indian Immigrant,” with an expected publication of late 2006 from I.B. Tauris. He is also completing a book proposal for “Shifting Sentiments: West Indian Immigrants and BBC Television.” He has served as a contributing author to e ncyclopedias of African American History, the African Diaspora, the Great Black Migration and the Encyclopedia of Television, Second Edition. dmnewton@salisbury.edu

Jude Chudi Okpala

Jude Chudi Okpala is a theorist and Associate Professor of English Language and Literature at Howard Community College; he also teaches Philosophy and English at Howard University. Among his publications is a novel, The Visible Man (1995); he has also published scholarly papers on Chinua Achebe and Ben Okri in Callaloo, BMa: The Sonia Sanchez Literary Review and elsewhere.  He is currently working on Nigerian diasporic writers. jokpala@howardcc.edu

Deirdre Osborne

Deirdre Osborne, Ph.D., lectures in drama at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her research in Victorian literature focuses upon motherhood, colonial ideology, and nation building. She has published essays on black British dramatists, including Roy Williams, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Dona Daley, and Debbie Tucker Green. Forthcoming is an essay on women spies in occupied France (1942-45) and a monograph, Inheritors of the Diaspora: Contemporary Black British Poetry, Prose and Drama. drs01do@gold.ac.uk

Koye Oyedeji

Koye Oyedeji is a research Ph.D. student in Literatures of the Nigerian Diaspora at the School of Oriental & African Studies ( London, U.K.). He has contributed to a number of publications including New Nation and the Nottingham Evening Post. His short stories, poetry, and essays have appeared in IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain (Penguin 2000), The Fire People (Payback Press 1998) and Write Black, Write British (Hansib 2005). He is currently a contributing editor for SABLE LitMag. koyeoyedeji@gmail.com

Meenakshi Ponnuswami

Meenakshi Ponnuswami is Associate Professor of English at Bucknell University, where she teaches dramatic literature and theatre history.  Her recent research interests have been in Black and Asian theatre in Britain.  Her essay " ‘Small Island People,’" a study of nostalgia and identity in several plays by black British women, includes a brief survey of postwar black British theatre.  During her upcoming sabbatical, Ponnuswami will be working on playwrights Winsome Pinnock, Errol John, and Mustapha Matura.  mponnus@bucknell.edu

Lauri Ramey 

Lauri Ramey, a poet and a scholar, is co-editor of Black British Writing (with R. Victoria Arana) and Every Goodbye Ain't Gone: An Anthology of Innovative Poetry by African Americans (with Aldon Lynn Nielsen), editor of The Heritage Series of Black Poetry, 1962-1975: A Research Compendium (co-edited by Paul Breman), and author of Slave Songs and the Birth of African American Poetry. She is currently director of the Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics at California State University at Los Angeles.  LRamey@calstatela.edu 

Kadija George Sesay

A literary activist, Kadija Sesay is the founder/publisher of SABLE LitMag. She has edited Six Plays by Black and Asian Women Writers and the collection of critical essays Write Black, Write British: From Post Colonial to Black British Writing. She co-edited IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain (with Courttia Newland) and the anthology Dance the Guns to Silence: 100 Poems for Ken Saro Wiwa. She is currently editing the short story collection New African Voices with Helon Habila. She is the series editor for the Inscribe imprint for Peepal Tree Press and serves as General Secretary of the African Writers Abroad (PEN) Centre. She is a Kennedy Center/Vilar Fellow and has received awards for her work in the creative arts. kadijageorge@gmail.com

Sandra G. Shannon

Sandra Shannon is Professor of African American Literature and Criticism and a drama specialist in the Department of English at Howard University. She is also current Vice President of the Black Theatre Network and co-editor of Theatre Topics, the most widely read journal for theatre practitioners. Her books—The Dramatic Vision of August Wilson (Howard UP, 1995), August Wilson's Fences: A Reference Guide ( Greenwood, 2003), and August Wilson and Black Aesthetic (Palgrave-McMillan, 2004)—position her as the world authority on August Wilson; she is now editing a collection of essays for the Modern Language Association: Approaches to Teaching August Wilson. She hosted The Ground Together I and II (1998 & 2001) and Situating August Wilson in the Canon and in the Curriculum (2005), three international conferences relating to the works of Wilson. In addition, she has published widely on other African American literature topics in refereed journals and prestigious collections of scholarly essays. She is serving a three-year term as judge for the Helen Hayes Awards. sshannon@howard.edu

Rommi Smith

Rommi Smith is a poet and playwright who works to fuse spoken word and music. She teaches creative writing and writing for performance at Leeds and Huddersfield Universities. She has held a number of residencies with the BBC including most recently writer in residence for BBC Radio 3's Africa Season, writing and performing new work for Late Junction, The Verb as well as a poetry documentary for Twenty Minutesrommi@rommi-smith.co.uk / www.rommi-smith.co.uk

Roy Sommer

Roy Sommer is professor of English at Wuppertal University ( Germany). His publications include a monograph on the Black British novel (Fictions of Migration. Ein Beitrag zu Theorie und Gattungstypologie des zeitgenössischen interkulturellen Romans in Großbritannien. Trier: WVT, 2001) as well as several articles on the subject (most of them in German), including “‘Simple Survival’ in ‘ Happy Multicultural Land’? Diasporic Identities and Cultural Hybridity in the Contemporary British Novel” in Diaspora and Multiculturalism: Common Traditions and New Developments. Monika Fluderni, editor (Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2003; pp. 149-181). rsommer@uni-wuppertal.de


SuAndi is of Nigerian and Liverpool British heritage. A performance poet with three collections of poetry and the critically acclaimed theatre piece The Story of M, she tours nationally and internationally. She has received numerous recognitions and awards, including a NESTA Fellowship, The Big Issue Community Diploma, The Windrush Inspirational Award, a Winston Churchill Fellowship, and an the O.B.E. in the Queen's 1999 New Year Honours List. She has also written two librettos: The Calling (BBC Philharmonic 2005) and Mary Seacole: Opera (2000). suandi@blackartists.org.uk

Andrene M. Taylor

Andrene Taylor is a Ph.D. student in English at Howard University. She has presented papers on Gayl Jones at several scholarly conferences. Her areas of specialization are literary criticism and African American, Caribbean, and British literatures. andrenemtaylor3@yahoo.com

Tracey L. Walters

Tracey L. Walters is Assistant Professor of Literature at Stony Brook University in the Departments of Africana Studies and English. She has published a number of articles on black British literature, including: "A Black Briton's View of Black British Literature and Scholarship," and “‘We’re All English Now Mate Like It or Lump It’: Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and the Question of Black/British Fiction.” She is currently editing a collection of essays on Zadie Smith and is completing Writing the Classics Black: Political and Poetic Function of Classical Revision, an examination of how and why black women appropriate classical Greek mythology. walterstracey@hotmail.com

Tracyann Williams

Tracyann Williams is Core Faculty and a professor at The New School, offering courses in literature, gender studies, and cultural studies. Ms. Williams has received numerous awards and recognitions, including a Helena Rubenstein Foundation fellowship and the Distinguished University Teaching Award from The New School in 2004. She is a Ph.D. candidate in English at The Graduate Center/CUNY, where she is also pursuing a certificate in Women’s Studies. Her current project focuses on mixed race women in modern fictions. tracyannwilliams@nyc.rr.com

Deborah Willis

Deborah Willis, Ph.D., is Professor of Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts— New York University in New York City. She is the author of numerous works on photography and mixed media (please see the Symposium list of Recommended Readings). She became a MacArthur Fellow in 2001. Additionally, Willis has won other prestigious awards including 1996 recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation. Willis’s career also includes being one of the nation's leading historians of African American photography and curator of African American culture and an art photographer. Exhibitions of her work include Regarding Beauty ( University of Wisconsin, 2003); Embracing Eatonville (Light Works, Syracuse, 2003-4); HairStories (Scottsdale Contemporary Art Museum, 2003-4); her Curated Exhibitions include Reflections in Black. Notable projects include The Black Female Body A Photographic History (with Carla Williams), Temple University Press, 2002; and A Small Nation of People: W.E.B. DuBois and the Photographs from the Paris Exposition, Amistad Press, 2003; Picturing Us: African American Identity in Photography, The New Press, 1994; and VANDERZEE: The Portraits of James VanDerZee, Harry Abrams Publishing, 1993. deb.willis@nyu.edu

Michelle M. Wright

Michelle M. Wright received her Ph.D. in 1997 from the University of Michigan. She held the Loomis McCandless Junior Faculty Research Chair in the English Department at Carnegie Mellon University from 1997-2000, taught at Macalester College from 2001-2005, and is now associate professor of English at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of Becoming Black: Creating Identity in the African Diaspora (Duke UP, 2004); editor, with Tina Campt, of Reading the Black German Experience: A Special Issue of Callaloo; and with Faith Wilding and Maria Fernandez, editor of Domain Errors! Cyberfeminist Practices (Autonomedia/Semiotext Press, 2003). She is currently at work on her next book project, tracing the debate on black collective identity in the African Diaspora, Race Wars: Battles for the Black Conscience.Wrigh391@umn.edu / mimawright@yahoo.com

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