Monday, October 12, 2015

African American literary studies and technology

Today, I'm talking to a group of young scholars about my work in African American literary studies. I do traditional work (i.e. I've published a book and several articles,  and I teach literature classes). However, what stands out to me right now is all my digital and online work.

I've kept this blog, for instance, since 2008. I began by charting my work with the Black Studies program at SIUE. But I really merged my work on African American literary studies in 2011 when I began blogging extensively on poetry.

My work on poetry led me to become more actively involved in Twitter. And my work there, or more importantly, my connections there, led me to become more involved in the study of digital humanities (DH). My work on DH led me to do more in terms of charting technology conversations on my blog. Of course, years before I heard of DH, it was my associations with Alondra Nelson's Afrofuturism group that really activated my thinking on the intersections of race, technology, and science fiction.

Student at Charter School during a listening session

Out in my off-line world, I coordinate activities with these audio devices. Over the years, I've organized over 200 listening sessions. The devices have become one of my signatures. These days, I host a listening session once per week at the East St. Louis Charter High School.  Those listening sessions are part of my larger interest in public programming.

I'm teaching a course entitled "Biggie, Jay Z, or Nas?" in spring 2016. The charter school high students heard about it and asked me to give them a preview since they can't enroll. So we listened to Jay Z and Nas recently, and we'll check out Big soon. The musical selections serve as a preview for the students, and for me, the use of digital files is preparation for the upcoming class and yet another reminder of why my work as an African American literary scholar is intertwined with technology.    

An Afrofuturism-based timeline, 1998 - 2013
Public Programming

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