Ridiculous Thoughts

This serves as a statement of suspension of disbelief.

First, new writing that I’m excited about. I just published an essay in the African American Intellectual History Society blog series on Comics, Race, and Society: Crossover, Convergence, and the Cultural Politics of Black Comics. I found a use for the impressions of Miguel Covarrubias that have stayed with me since I wrote about salon culture in the Harlem Renaissance that ultimately shaped my views of Black imagery in visual culture and what it means for artists and intellectuals known for their politics to engage in image-making practices, more broadly.

I wanted to start with something positive, because this year has been… too much. As the year comes to a close, amid horror in Aleppo and a reprieve from pipeline construction at the Oceti Sakowin camp in the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, I wanted to do what I’ve metaphorically referred to as “counting your blessings.” Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not religious, but I use this phrase somewhat interchangeably with “taking stock” or “inventory,” in an other-than-material sense. Whatever your belief system or lack thereof, I’d advocate making a habit of taking stock of what’s generative, nourishing, and available to you at any given time as a way to handle the day-to-day stress of living in a world quite often inimical to your and my nurture. I suggested this to students at a campus event about dealing with microaggressions in professional environments, recently.

So, as a note toward a theory of practice, here are 7 things of which I’m taking stock right now.

(I don’t count individual persons in my life as “stock,” because that’s too much like slavery, but regarding my wonderful my partner is: I tend to think of #relationshipgoals in terms of Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra, and so far, we’re basically killing it.)

  1. My dog is ridiculous.
  2. Good things about winter include warm beverages and holiday gift exchanges with friends.
  3. I’m finally teaching my friend and colleague’s edited anthology of science fiction short stories and Long Division by Kiese Laymon next quarter!
  4. I’ve seen a respectable number of bird species, and I’m hoping to see more in 2017.
  5. I finished grading papers for 2016 today. There are two more quarters in the academic year, but for now, I’m done teaching! The best things about teaching this Fall were: a) some students really connected with the material this time around; b) a new version of a Seminar in World Lit for English majors worked out much the way I imagined it would, reassuring me that I have a knack for the format, and c) in the same vein, my proposal for an LGBT Lit course is nearing approval by the Faculty Senate, which is a huge deal–it will be an addition to the catalog that says LGBT Literature & Culture right there in the title, and the core texts are hella focused on LGBT/Q people of color. I’ve written about that elsewhere, too. In the meantime, I’m working with a student on a project that I hope will lead to a better understanding of how studying gender and sexuality through an intersectional lens leads you away from the more problematic currents in queer theory… but I’m getting ahead of myself like Elliott Ross.
  6. I’m going to many places I’ve never been to talk about Speculative Blackness in 2017, including Duke University, the New York Live Arts Live Ideas Festival curated by Justin Vivian Bond (!!!), the University of Tennessee*, and Stanford (below). I already have friends whom I’m looking forward to seeing, in some of these places, and I’m looking forward to making the acquaintance of new people. Closer to home, I get to see some friends at MLA in Philadelphia, and further away, Queers & Comics 2017 in San Francisco is on the horizon. One way taking stock can be reassuring is that it allows you to appreciate when something you’ve put into the world comes back to you. Speaking of which, edited video from the first Queers & Comics is now online, thanks to CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies, and I’m looking forward to sharing it.
  7. Some things I’ve been working on for a long time are closer to being published, and some of them are out.

That’s probably it for me, 2016. 2017: do better.

*PS: Strange note about the University of Tennessee, from Wikipedia:

The University of Tennessee is the only university in the nation to have three presidential papers editing projects and holds collections of the papers of all three U.S. presidents from Tennessee—Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson.

Apparently, when Vice President Gore never assumed office, we missed out on the one chance we had to seat a decent President from Tennessee, leaving us with a legacy of ain’t-shit-Presidents from the Volunteer State.