Campus Announcements

Lecture: Tsitsi Jaji, "Black Oklahoma as Cassava Western Territory: On Jeymes Samuel, Toni Morrison and Kahlil Joseph"

Thursday, April 14, 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Eliot Hall 314
This event is open to the public.

Tsitsi Jaji is an associate professor of English and African & African American studies at Duke University. She holds a PhD in comparative literature from Cornell University. She's the author of an award-winning book, Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music and Pan-African Solidarity, that accounts for how and why African American music and literature circulated in Ghana, Senegal, and South Africa and contributed so profoundly to African notions of solidarity in the 20th century.

Jaji's talk is drawn from her book-in-progress, Cassava Westerns – a cheeky appropriation of the more familiar spaghetti westerns – which examines how the American frontier myth has been re-envisioned in Black expressive cultures. Jaji will focus on Oklahoma’s historic all-black towns and the paradox of increasing attention to these communities in fiction at a time when recent census reports indicate dwindling populations that face struggle as well as hope. Contradicting notions of the midwest as “fly-over country,” the talk will reveal how Black Oklahoma is imagined in a global context as a crucial world-historical site for reconsidering diaspora as a hyper-local phenomenon. The major texts addressed present three very different visions: Toni Morrison’s novel Paradise; They Die By Dawn, the Nigerian-British film-maker Jeymes Samuel’s 2014 Black western set in Langston, Oklahoma; and Kahlil Joseph’s cinematic ode to Grayson, Oklahoma, a town formerly known as Wildcat. The talk will pursue two lines of inquiry: first, what happens when we lavish what Jaji wants to think of as exorbitant attention on sites often conceived of as remote; and secondly, what is the function of fame and its obverse, notoriety, in such Black cultural sites.  

For more information, contact Dominique Somda or visit:
Submitted by Brittney Corrigan-McElroy.
Posted on Apr 12, 2016


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