Coming Attractions: Call & Response

Coming soon: an interview with yours truly for the brilliant documentary serial Call & Response by Brooklyn’s own Malik Isasis and Lina Cherfas! I met this power couple through a fellow member of the CLAGS Board of Directors, and our mutual interest in speculative fiction and media kicked off a conversation about further ways to share knowledge.

photo: Black man, shaved head, with glasses and beard, is speaking, seated in front of a bookshelf
©️ 2016 Malik Isasis

They invited me to take part in Call & Response at their home, which is situated in my old stomping grounds of Ditmas Park, and I happily I obliged. The video is currently being edited. In the meantime, check out a previous installment of the series featuring Sociologist Ginetta Candelario. In her interview, among other topics, Dr. Candelario discusses negrophobia (literally, fear of Blackness, but so much more).

Here’s a bonus: one of Malik’s short films, Lena’s Complicated Machine, imagines the implications of death, love, and time travel. It’s better on that account than Interstellar, in my opinion, and if you know me, you know I enjoyed that movie. Have a look at the trailer, below.

Aren’t you excited now?! View the film, buy the soundtrack, and watch this space for the premiere of our Call & Response episode.

The library is open: PS374. N4 C37 2016

I’ve been super eager to locate Speculative Blackness in my university library. It’s on order, and when I looked it up this time, I saw the call numbers and where it’s placed on the shelves.
Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.15.26 AMI’m really, really pleased to be in such distinguished company. What’s critically important, to me, is that this call number, PS374. N4 C37, places my book next to African Americanist literary criticism. This is essential for my professional identity as an English prof. Also key are my first three subject headings:
 
American fiction — African American authors — History and criticism.
Science fiction, American — History and criticism.
Race in literature.
 
You can tell from the content of the book that it’s about media & popular culture. But what you need to know at the library is that I bring these topics to my job, which is teaching African American literature and literary studies. It matters to the institution, so it matters to me. When I articulate the meaning of the category of genre, when I talk about cultural capital and the field of cultural production, and when I deal with the politics of knowledge in classes and when I write articles, I’m drawing directly from the lessons I learned in the course of writing this book. It’s also critical, to me, that this book will be a reason for science fiction studies to visit the African American literature shelf; recognizing that the conversation about race in speculative fiction is inextricably linked to the ongoing legacy of Black scholarship and antiracist knowledge production is an absolutely essential goal of my research. At Penn’s library, Speculative Blackness is right next to the Cambridge Companion to the African American Novel! To me, that’s perfect. Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.44.05 AMOf course, showing up is not the end of the project but the beginning. Placement in a library doesn’t demonstrate that by itself, but it helps. I’m in good company, on the shelves, and when I consider where my first book fits into my current scholarship, it’s a good trajectory.