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Saturday, March 14 • 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Shifting Authenticities: Play in the Face of...

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TITLE: Shifting Authenticities: Play in the Face Of…

“Life is to be lived, not controlled, and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of 
certain defeat.” Ralph Ellison’s 1952 articulation of the structure (and psychology) of some 
aspects of the American racial imaginary is both comic and, though painful, fun. The novel’s 
absurdist humor is, in part, dependent on the irrational logic of the racial. We imagine the 
space for “fun” is won (or earned) largely through labor, through work. Work hard, play 
hard, the saying goes. What is the work of the racial imaginary? What are the forms of play 
that animate (and subvert) the (il)logic of the racial? 

This panel will combine critical inquiry, performances, and readings in considering the 
operative force of humor and serious play in the poetics of Amiri Baraka, Wanda Coleman, 
and American others. What is fun in the literary and performative? How do artists play 
around with shifting modalities of representation, authenticity, and authority? How are 
attempts to administer identity and meaning subverted and reconfigured in literature and 
performance? How do these writers (the writers being celebrated and the writers 
celebrating) engage in unadministered fun?

This panel will explore the indispensible nature of humor and fun in both navigating and 
subverting structures that operate to legislate identity and meaning. We will consider how 
literature and performance may resist ready categorizations, and how pleasure is activated 
even as one faces the serious and the deadly (without simple resort to the masochistic).


Moderators
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Tonya Foster

TONYA FOSTER is a poet and writer. Author of Swarms of Bees in High Court (forthcoming), she is a PhD candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she is completing her dissertation, Difficult Subjects: Talking  Sh*t at the Crossroads. A recipient of fellowships and grants from New York Foundation for the Arts, the  Macdowell Colony, the Mellon and Ford Foundations, among others, Tonya is a New Orleans native living in the... Read More →

Speakers
TF

Tonya Foster

TONYA FOSTER is a poet and writer. Author of Swarms of Bees in High Court (forthcoming), she is a PhD candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she is completing her dissertation, Difficult Subjects: Talking  Sh*t at the Crossroads. A recipient of fellowships and grants from New York Foundation for the Arts, the  Macdowell Colony, the Mellon and Ford Foundations, among others, Tonya is a New Orleans native living in the... Read More →
EH

Erica Hunt

ERICA HUNT is a poet, essayist, and author of Local History and Arcade, as well as two poem chapbooks, Piece Logic and Time Flies Right Before the Eyes and most recently, a new chapbook, A day and its approximates. Other bits published in Boundary 2, Conjunctions, Poetics Journal, Tripwire, Recluse, In the American Tree, and in Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women, The Politics of Poetic Form, and... Read More →
TM

Tracie Morris

TRACIE MORRIS is a poet who has worked extensively as a sound poet, bandleader, actor and multimedia performer. Her sound installations have been presented at the Whitney Biennial, MoMA, Ronald Feldman Gallery, The Silent Barn, The Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, The Drawing Center, The Gramsci Monument with Thomas Hirshhorn for the DIA Foundation and other galleries. She also leads her own eponymous band and is lead singer for Elliott... Read More →
RW

Ronaldo Wilson

RONALDO WILSON, PhD, is the author of Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man (University of | Pittsburgh Press, 2008), winner of the 2007 Cave Canem Poetry Prize; Poems of the Black Object (Futurepoem | Books, 2009) winner of the 2010 Asian American Literary Award and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry, Farther Traveler: Poetry, Prose, Other (Counterpath Press, 2015), and Lucy 72 (1913 Press, 2015).  A recent... Read More →


Saturday March 14, 2015 3:45pm - 5:00pm
UC 330

Attendees (18)