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Faculty Research Seminars

The Cooper Center hosts a monthly seminar series for Piedmont-Triad area faculty members whose research and teaching interests focus on political questions at the intersection of gender, race, and region. The seminars are interdisciplinary and engage scholarship from multiple fields, perspectives and methodological approaches. Through the seminars, we hope to create a central meeting place for research and scholarly engagement with race, gender and politics while building cross-institutional support.

If you are interested in joining the seminars, please contact Dr. Dani Parker.

 

2015: January | February | March | April | May | September | October | November | December
2014: March | April
2013: January | February | March | April | September | October | November
2012: September | October | November A | November B | December

January 13, 2015

Presenter: Valerie A. Johnson, Mott Distinguished Professor of Women’s Studies and Director, Africana Women’s Studies, Bennett College
Paper Presented: “‘To Dance With a Stranger’: Self-Defense as Choreographed Reality”
Respondent: Melissa Harris-Perry, Presidential Endowed Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Wake Forest University

February 10, 2015

Presenter: Michele K. Lewis, Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences, Winston-Salem State University
Paper Presented: “’Ratchet’ Females and Homosexuals: Examining Mixed-Slurs As Microaggressions in a Southern African-American U.S. Context”
Respondent: Richard G. Moye, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Winston-Salem State University

March 17, 2015

Presenter: Tangela Towns, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Winston-Salem State University
Paper Presented: “Living Life Food Insecure and Underserved: A Content Analysis of Winston-Salem, NC”
Respondent: Tamara Y. Jeffries, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Media Studies, Bennett College

April 14, 2015

Presenter: Derek Hicks, Assistant Professor of Religion and Culture, Wake Forest University
Paper Presented: “Nourishing Debased Flesh: The Intersection of Religion and Food in the Struggle to Make the Wounded Whole”
Respondent: Michele Gillespie, Presidential Endowed Professor of Southern History, Wake Forest University

May 5, 2015

Presenter: Kara Dixon Viuc, Associate Professor of History, High Point University
Paper Presented: “Race, Sexuality, and Entertainment in the World War II American Military”
Respondent: Latoya Brooks, Assistant Professor of Social Work, Bennett College

September 8, 2015

Presenter: Jaira Harrington, Cooper Postdoctoral Fellow in Politics & International Affairs, Wake Forest University
Paper Presented: “Institutionalizing the Teacher?Scholar Model: A Case Study”
Respondent: Sara Dahill-Brown, Assistant Professor, Politics & International Affairs, Wake Forest University

October 13, 2015

Presenter: Sara Dahill-Brown, Assistant Professor, Politics & International Affairs, Wake Forest University
Paper Presented: “Making Choice Work for All Families in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools”
Respondent: Latoya Brooks, Assistant Professor of Social Work, Bennett College

November 10, 2015

Presenter: Santiba Campbell, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Bennett College
Respondent: Maria Merrills, Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies, Winston-Salem State

December 8, 2015

Presenter: Willietta Gibson, Assistant Professor of Biology. Bennett College
Respondent: Tara T. Green, Professor of African American & African Diaspora Studies, University of North Carolina-Greensboro

 

2014 Seminars

 

April 8, 2014

Presenter

Stephanie Jones-Rogers, Assistant Professor of U.S. Women’s History at the University of Iowa and Postdoctoral Fellow in Law & Society at Tulane University

Paper Presented

“‘You Couldn’t Guess de Awfulness of It’ : The Slave Market in Enslaved People’s Daily Lives”

Respondent

Ashley Howard, Assistant Professor of History, Loyola University

 

March 11, 2014

Presenter

Kathleen J. Fitzgerald, Associate Professor of Sociology, Loyola University New Orleans

Paper Presented

“Reifying Race: Genetic Genealogy and the Maintenance of the Racial Hierarchy”

 

2013 Seminars:

 

November 12, 2013

Presenter

Ashley Howard, Assistant Professor of History, Loyola University

Paper Presented

“Beyond the Rabble, Gender Factors in Uprising Participation”

Respondent

Kathleen Fitzgerald, Visiting Associate Professor of Sociology, Loyola University

 

October 8, 2013

Presenter

Jennie Lightweis-Goff, Visiting Assistant Professor in English and Gender/Sexuality Studies, Tulane University

Paper Presented

“Interior Travelogues and ‘Inside Views’: The Urban Slave Narrative”

Respondent

Melissa Harris-Perry, Professor of Political Science, Tulane University

 

September 10, 2013

Presenter

Laura Murphy, Assistant Professor of English, Loyola University

Paper Presented

“The New Slave Narrative and Modern Slavery’s Sentimental Reading Lessons”

Respondent

Mary N. Mitchell, Associate Professor of History, University of New Orleans

 

April 9, 2013

Presenter

Violet Harrington Bryan, Mellon Professor of English, Xavier University

Paper Presented

“Woodside, St. Mary, Jamaica: The Lived And Imagined Homeland In The Fiction And Poetry Of Erna Brodber And Velma Pollard”

Velma Pollard and Erna Brodber, two sisters raised in Woodside, St. Mary, Jamaica, recreate imagined and lived homelands in their fiction and poetry by celebrating the history, social/religious cultural traditions, and language of Jamaica. They write about their homeland from internal and continuing experience. But as Salman Rushdie writes in “Imaginary Homelands,” they also remember and imagine the past, which cannot remain as it was; they create fictions of that lived and imagined experience.” In their novels and poetry, Erna Brodber and Velma Pollard give us their various expressions of Caribbean life primarily from the area of their homeland in rural Jamaica—Woodside, St. Mary’s Parish. They bring the place to life from the days of slavery through the independence of Jamaica in 1962 and its aftermath. The two sisters deal most often with the common setting of rural Jamaica in juxtaposition with cities of the Caribbean, the United States, the UK, and Canada. Velma Pollard writes her narratives generally from a linear perspective and her poetry using rhythm, dances, folklore, from Africa and the Caribbean. On the other hand, Erna Brodber uses nonlinear, postmodern narrative and, as June Roberts, writes, achieves “parody, pastiche, and interdisciplinary discourse.” My focus in this paper is to compare the works of the two sisters and to point out their visions of Jamaica in the postmodern world, its historical memories, and its participation in the African diaspora–its religions, culture, and traditions.

Respondent

Supriya M. Nair, Associate Professor of English at Tulane

 

March 12, 2013

Presenter

Mary Niall Mitchell, Associate Professor of History, University of New Orleans

Paper Presented

“The Slave Girl in the Archive: A Portrait of Slavery & Freedom in 19th-Century America”

Ida May: A Story of Things Actual and Possible (1854) was a best-selling antislavery novel, which told the story of a white girl from Pennsylvania who was spirited south and sold as a slave. Soon after its publication, a former slave child named Mary Botts from Virginia appeared in Boston, promoted throughout New England by her sponsors as the incarnation of “Ida May” because she was indistinguishable from a white child (she was the offspring of enslaved African American parents) and a daguerreotype portrait of her was circulated among Massachusetts lawmakers. Her portrait, in fact, was one of the earliest examples of the use of photography by abolitionists, and perhaps one of the earliest uses of photography to make a humanitarian appeal. The novel had asked white northerners to reimagine slavery and its threat to white people. The presence of Mary Botts, and her photograph, seemed to make that imagined vulnerability into something real. Mary Niall Mitchell located the daguerreotype portrait at the Massachusetts Historical Society and was able to identify it as that of Mary Botts, or “little Ida May.” But the image inspired Mitchell to find other stories, forgotten and remembered, that lay behind the portrait: among them, Mary’s father’s struggle to buy his family’s freedom, the reminiscences of her northern sponsors, and the family’s efforts to escape their past in slavery.

Respondent

Megan Osterbur, Xavier University

 

February 5, 2013

Presenter

Nikki Brown, Assistant Professor of History, University of New Orleans

Paper Presented

“The Southern strategy and Hurricane Katrina: How national party politics enabled an American human disaster.”

As a human disaster, Hurricane Katrina revealed the mind-boggling complexity of New Orleans’ history of race, class, gender, and poverty. As a portrait of American political dysfunction, the impact of Hurricane Katrina remains an uncovered narrative of southern urban and political history, however. The failure of the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans to provide adequate hurricane protection and a social safety net has a long history, dating back to the doctrine of limited government championed by Barry Goldwater. In the 1980s, neo-conservatism dominated the national political discussion, but in the South, especially Louisiana, the doctrine of limited government – “big government is the cause of your problems” – reduced public dollars for public welfare programs, like hurricane protection and evacuation. What’s also interesting is how the gradual weakening of state support for public welfare was directed at primarily working class and middle class African Americans, using carefully coded racial language. The southern strategy – turning solidly Democratic southern states to the Republican party – fell in line with a 21-century Jim Crow political system based on the persistent disenfranchisement of African Americans, which, in turn, led to extreme dysfunction in Louisiana and enfeebled African American political power. The massive human catastrophe caused by Hurricane Katrina was bound to happen. This paper explains how the southern strategy produced a weak local government that left working class and middle class African Americans vulnerable to such as disaster. Moreover, this paper will explore efforts by African Americans to reinvigorate state and local politics with their voices.

Respondent

Nancy Maveety, Professor of Political Science, Tulane University

 

January 8, 2013

Presenter

Emily Clark, Associate Professor of History, Tulane University

Paper Presented

“Transatlantic Currents of Orientalism: New Orleans Quadrooons and Saint-Louis, Senegal Signares”

The Atlantic World that emerged with the encounters between Europe, Africa, and the Americas in the fifteenth century spawned the Transatlantic slave trade, chattel slavery, and a complex discourse of race to sustain these enterprises. “Transatlantic Currents of Orientalism: New Orleans Quadrooons and Saint-Louis, Senegal Signares” traces the emergence of the problematic figure of the Orientalized free woman of African descent in the Atlantic context. In both Africa and the Americas, the figure of the free woman of African descent disturbed the essentialized notion of animalistic black female sexuality upon which the slave system depended. Orientalizing the free woman of color mediated the tension between the essentialist trope of brutish enslaved women and the reality of powerful free African and African-descended women.

Respondent

Elizabeth Steeby, Assistant Professor of English at University of New Orleans

 

2012 Seminars:

 

December 4, 2012

Presenter

Rebecca Chaisson, Assistant Professor of Social Work, Tulane

Paper Presented

“Beyond Courageous Conversation: Talking about Race, Class, Gender, Age, and Social Justice in New Orleans”

The Beyond Courageous Conversation (BCC) study examines issues related to race, class, gender, age, religion, and social justice by asking residents of New Orleans about these issues during the recovery period after hurricane Katrina. The project study gave a collective voice to residents while it informs social work and other helping professions about critical issues and strategies for social change relating to social justice. The study provides a forum to talk about social justice during the early stages of reconstruction and rebuilding in New Orleans.

The BCC study was conceptualized and implemented as a result of two separate events. The first event influencing the development of this study grew out of the need to engage in a critical dialogue about issues of race, class, and gender especially after hearing a story about an African-American mother who chose to remain in New Orleans despite several offers of help to evacuate from New Orleans. This mother was repeatedly offered transportation with the provision that she abandons her two adolescent boys who were standing with her. The mother grew weary and depressed by the refusal of “good Samaritans” who failed to show basic human regard for her sons. The good Samaritans demonstrated fear and discomfort for African-American males in New Orleans. Likewise the media’s portrayal of a post-Katrina New Orleans, demonstrated a racialized commentary that reinforced negative stereotypes. The combination of these incidents and the exposure of these dormant social problems stimulated the ideas for this study. Thus, the BCC project was conceptualized and developed to investigate and better understand the problems and issues related to multiple vulnerabilities while seeking a dialogue about solutions to achieving greater social justice in the New Orleans region, especially after a community disaster. Further, the project sought to provide a venue for having “Courageous Conversations” during a crisis period in New Orleans.

Respondent

Red Tremmel, Director of Office for Gender & Sexual Diversity at Tulane, Administrative Professor in Gender & Sexuality Studies

 

November 27, 2012

Presenter

Jas Sullivan, Associate Professor of Political Science, LSU

Paper Presented

“Race, Identity, and Ideological Beliefs”

A review of the racial identity literature in political science reveals that much of the work has explored the effects of racial identity on African Americans’ political behavior and attitudes, while neglecting identity influence on African American ideological beliefs. Using data from the National Study of American Life (NSAL), we demonstrate that there is a significant relationship between racial identity and ideological beliefs. Specifically, the findings show that the higher one’s evaluative judgment of the group (private regard) and the more one perceives others view the group as positive (public regard), the less likely one is to desire and support group-based domination and black autonomy. On the other hand, the more one sees race as being central in their life (centrality), the higher the autonomy sentiments. Our findings are important in many ways: it illustrates that while there might not be an explicit and public discussion regarding such ideologies, some African Americans hold these sentiments privately and that African Americans are not monolithic in their thinking about such ideologies. The consequence, then, is that there are implications for electoral politics.

Respondent

Elizabeth McMahon, Assistant Professor of History at Tulane University

 

November 13th, 2012

Presenter

Matt Jacobsmeier, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of New Orleans

Paper Presented

“From Black and White to Left and Right: Race, Gender, and Perceptions of Candidates’ Ideologies.”

While there is a strong scholarly consensus that race continues to play a central role in American politics, research on the effects of the race of candidates on electoral behavior have been decidedly mixed. Using American National Election Studies data and a non-linear systems of equations approach to estimation, I show that race-based misperceptions of candidates’ ideologies have a significant indirect impact on voting decisions in elections to the U.S. House of Representatives. The indirect effects of race on voting behavior outweigh any direct effects of racial prejudice by a large margin. More specifically, the results suggest that white citizens will tend to perceive black candidates to be more liberal than white candidates who adopt similar policy positions, and that these race-based misperceptions disadvantage black candidates at the ballot box. I also examine the effects of gender on perceptions of candidates’ ideologies, including cases in which black women run for Congress.

Respondent

Liv Newman, Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at Loyola University

 

October 9th, 2012

October Seminar

Left: Jennie Lightweis-Goff poses an opening question; Right: Nghana Lewis discusses her paper

Presenter

Nghana Lewis, Associate Professor of English and African and African American Diaspora Students at Tulane University

Paper Presented

“‘Cunt Buckets’ and ‘Bad Bitches’: Black Girl Sexual Identity in PUSH: A Novel and The Coldest Winter Ever.”

This chapter, from the book manuscript Black Women’s Health in the Age of Hip Hop & HIV/AIDS, maps formations of black girl sexual identity in PUSH and The Coldest Winter Ever to demonstrate how novelists Sapphire and Sister Souljah deployed the language of their generation at once to critique the sexist underpinnings of hip hop culture and to lay claim to hip hop’s capacity to advance understanding of the relationship between language acquisition and sexual health for black women and girls. In the vein of Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (1900); Paule Marshall’s Brown Girl, Brownstones (1959); Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (1982); and Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina (1992), Sapphire and Souljah mix wry social commentary with generous doses of suspense, pathos, and humor, to weave traditional coming-of-age stories. Tricia Rose has said that it is impossible to understand black women’s coming of age experiences without “having a sense of the larger contexts shaping them, such as family dynamics, expectations surrounding gender and sexuality, economic and educational circumstances, religion, race, color, and weight.” By situating language use among the matrix of social, cultural, and economic conditions that inform sexual conduct and other meaning-making around sexual identity for their novels’ protagonists, Sapphire and Souljah engage potential meaning-making around HIV/AIDS risk, prevention, care, and political action. The importance of PUSH and The Coldest Winter Ever, thus, lies not only in the voices these novels give to adolescent black girls but also in the understanding they bring to the particularities of black girls’ claims to and struggles with sexual identity at a time when rising incidence and prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS literally rendered healthy sexual identity formation a matter of life or death for black girls coming of age worldwide.

Respondent

Jennifer Lightweis-Goff, ACLS Postdoc Teaching Fellow in English & Gender and Sexuality Studies

 

September 11, 2012

Presenter

Trimiko Melancon, Assistant Professor of English and African & African American Studies at Loyola University in New Orleans, Anna Julia Cooper Project Visiting Scholar 2012-2013

Paper Presented

“‘The silence is worse than all the violence’: (Post) 9/11 Cultural Production, Racial-Gender Politics, and the ‘War on Terror'”

Drawing upon media, cultural production, and black performance, this presentation elucidates the conspicuous shifts in race, particularly the politics and metalanguage of race, in light of and in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. This moment emblematizes an evolution in the constructions of race and racial-gender politics, as well as is embroiled with matters of American and U.S. national identity (and “security”) in an increasingly diverse globalized and racialized world. Not only does this presentation explicate what is inscribed and at stake in the systematic “war on terror,” but it also illuminates the hegemonic and systematic ways waging a “war on terror” has functioned methodically as a domestic and international warfare against race: or, more precisely, against racial and ethno-religious “others.”

Respondent

Melissa Harris-Perry, Professor of Political Science at Tulane University