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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).


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... Read More →

avatar for Erica Hunt

Erica Hunt

Parsons Family Professor of Creative Writing, Long Island University--Brooklyn
Erica Hunt works at the forefront of experimental poetry and poetics, critical race theory, and feminist aesthetics. She has written three books of poetry: Arcade, with artist Alison Saar, Piece Logic, and Local History (Roof Books, 1993). Her published and forthcoming essays include... Read More →

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... Read More →

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... Read More →

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

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