Graduate Salon: Brittney Edmonds, Nika Elder and David Reinecke

Thu, Mar 8, 2012, 12:00 pm

Brittney Edmonds

“Black Inque(e)ries: Space and Time in Post-Stonewall NYC, 1969-81” focuses on the contours, movements, and tenors of Black queer bodies in New York City from 1969 to 1981. That Blackness and queerness manifest so variously, in human bodies, in human politics, in social spaces, and in political rhetoric, is testament to their endurance as modes of disciplinary classification and their requisition as sites of potentially libratory identification. This seeming plasticity — the ability for both Blackness and queerness to be purposed to differing, sometimes contradictory ends — inspires my research to find moments, if ever, when Blackness and queerness are less yielding, when human bodies, geographical space, political necessity, and temporal specificity fix, however fleetingly, their coordinates. By focusing on Black queer bodies, and further locating them within a particularly charged historical period — beginning in 1969 following the Stonewall Riots to 1981 before the widespread public acknowledgment and admission of the AIDS epidemic — my research attempts to apprehend Blackness and queerness in moments of crisis and upheaval, and too, in moments of resistance. Through engagement with various ephemera (ranging from club flier to queer manifesto to lesbian weekly), my project seeks to answer questions about identity formation, community constitution, and the political limits and potentialities of this unique period.

Nika Elder

Nika Elder’s dissertation, “Show and Tell: Representation, Communication, and the Still Lifes of William M. Harnett,” interprets the eclectic work of the late 19th-century American artist within his cultural context. It analyzes the drawings and paintings he created over the course of his twenty-six-year career in conjunction with the intellectual discourses that they reference to suggest that Harnett attempted to depict humanity without recourse to the body. He employed man-made objects, syntactical compositions, and laborious techniques to enact and thus embody the cognitive process. A Summer Research Prize from the Program in American Studies generously supported the research and writing of two chapters, which draw on fields as diverse as anatomy and semiotics, physiology and the decorative arts.

David Reinecke

Far from total anarchy, privateering by the late 18th century was a heavily state regulated activity in order to prevent outright piracy. The central regulatory institution was the prize court, which adjudicated over the lawful capture of enemy ships. Reinecke's archival research project, “Claiming the Prize: Rationalizing Adventure Capitalism and Privateering in Revolutionary America,” draws primarily upon prize court cases during the American Revolutionary War to reconstruct the moral foundations and justifications of state-sponsored privateering vis-à-vis other emerging forms of capitalism.