Area Special Events

These events include renowned speakers whose appearance is sponsored by the various areas of inquiry and caucuses represented by the organization.

On this page:

American & Diaspora Studies / Global Anglophone / Creative Writing Special Event

Catherine Adoyo, "RAIN: A Song for All and None"

Friday 11 March at 12 PM

Catherine Adoyo.

The first volume in a series that celebrates the culture and aesthetic of traditional storytelling, RAIN: A Song for All and None tells the story of Maya, a Dream Walker whose empathic abilities allow her to experience human history with atemporal immediacy. The Dante Today bulletin describes Adoyo’s RAIN as “an astonishing new genre-bending novel that channels Dante’s voice in its vision, passion, and scope. Rain dramatizes a transnational and trans-historic cross-temporal vision of human history, centering oral tradition to articulate an incisive interrogation of the Euro-centric narrative of history and myths of colonial conquest.” RAIN's transcultural and transhistorical song repudiates the whitewashed European myth of a beneficent “Age of Discovery” by unmasking the willful savagery and terror of colonizing invaders. The opening epigraph quotes Chinua Achebe — “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter,” — and makes it clear that the story is conceived in the tradition of writers like Achebe and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o whose fiction and scholarship decenter and repudiate the epistemic injustice born of the colonizer’s paternalistic narratives about African history and culture.

Catherine Adoyo will be in conversation with Simona Wright and Mshai Mwangola to unpack how the author disrupts the fallacy of a monolithic “History” born of dominant epistemologies of ignorance exemplified by Hegel. The discussion will explore how, by dramatizing the dynamic memory of lived experience transmitted through song and Oral tradition, RAIN challenges the hermeneutic injustice imposed on the narrative agency of African cultures to tell their own stories. At the heart of the conversation, echoing the Great Lakes’ lore and inspired by the compositional praxis of Dante artifex, the storyteller’s song in RAIN decenters the hunter’s hegemonic myths and instead celebrates a phenomenological representation of history.

Catherine Adoyo is a literary scholar trained in music theory and composition, and piano performance. Adoyo studies the relationship between form and meaning in the aesthetics of Medieval and Early Modern poetry, analyzing the rational compositional methods in the poetics of literature, music, and visual art, and creating modes of structural and narrative visualization through drawing, painting and digital art based on her analytical work. Dr. Adoyo received her BA in Music and Italian Literature at UC Davis, and her masters and doctorate at Harvard University in Romance Languages and Literatures. Her dissertation, The Order of All Things: Mimetic Craft in Dante’s Commedia, is an examination of the textual architecture and design of Dante’s Commedia in the context of the poem’s ethical concerns. Dr. Adoyo is also a founding member of the Cosmopolitan Collective, a constellation of interdisciplinary, transnational, and public intellectuals who work together to actively promote and cultivate epistemic and hermeneutic justice.

This event is organized by the British & Global Anglophone Studies and Creative Writing, Editing & Publishing Areas.

Comparative Literature / Cultural Studies & Media Studies Special Event

Plenary: Lauren Berlant's Legacy

Saturday 12 March at 12 PM


We will be celebrating Professor Berlant's pathbreaking scholarship and legacy with this commemorative plenary.

LAUREN BERLANT was the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago and a leading theorist whose impact stretched across disciplinary boundaries. In Cruel Optimism, they have coined perhaps the most influential concept in 21st century studies of political affect. In the words of one of our members, “Lauren Berlant is in all of our heads.” Deborah Nelson, their colleague in the Department of English Language and Literature, added: “Lauren Berlant had always confounded the supposed dichotomy between the academy and activism by demonstrating the degree to which ideas matter to activists and artists, and the importance of activist and artistic practice to the production of knowledge and to cultural change.”

This event is organized by the Comparative Literature and the Cultural Studies & Media Studies Areas.

French & Francophone / Diversity Caucus / American Studies Special Event

Tristan Cabello, "#LesViesNoiresComptent: A Short History of the French #BlackLivesMatter Movement"

Saturday 12 March at 6:30 PM

Tristan Cabello.

This talk will analyze the history of modern French anti-racist movements (#BlackLivesMatter, Le Comité Adama, and other grassroots organizations). Following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, the French uprisings, led by the Comité Adama, were regarded as responses to the American Black Lives Matter movement. In this talk, Tristan Cabello will discuss France's anti-racist movements' local developments, own political dynamics, contextual environments, and historical trajectories, which are not always connected to US anti-racist movements. This talk will also compare current anti-racist campaigns in France and in the United States. Finally, we will show how French anti-racist movements have fundamentally altered France's intellectual and political Left, opening new complex avenues for political discourses, in a country preparing for an upcoming presidential election, and struggling to define égalité and laicité in the 21st century.

Tristan Cabello is an historian of social movements in France and the United States. He is Associate Director of the Master of Liberal Arts at the Johns Hopkins University and has received his PhD in History from Northwestern University. Currently at work on a monograph on the history of the French Black Lives Matter movement, he regularly comments US political and social events in the French media (BFMTV, CNews, LCI and France 24). A native of France, Tristan Cabello currently resides in Harlem, New York City. For more information, visit

This event is organized by the French & Francophone Studies Area, the American & Diaspora Studies Area, and the Diversity Caucus.

Women's & Gender Studies Caucus Special Event

Emily Parker, "The Body Figures the Denial of Matter of the Polis"

Saturday 12 March at 6:30 PM

Emily Parker.

Political hierarchies and ecological crises are generally expressed as parallel problems, even when they intersect. However, they are the same problem. The idealized body expressed in the very notion of "the body," a falsely generic reference to Man, serves both as the center of politics and at the helm in ecological decision-making. The contemporary notion of "the body" demonstrates a long-standing presupposition of the polis: that though the body is itself matter, it is nevertheless a perfect or complete state which is the right environment for masterful thought. The complete body alone is an indication of the triumph of thought. Departures from this complete body (blackness, darkness, blindness, penetrability, impregnability, dependence, for example) are vilified insofar as they are taken to be foreign to this complete body. Moreover, since the historically recent reinvention of sexual difference as a difference in kind and not in degree, the body is two-fold: a falsely generic Man and a falsely generic Woman. Both are now instances of the body, emblematic of a tradition that subordinates body to a so-called immaterial capacity for thinking. In this way the body figures a denial of matter which is characteristic of an ultimately earth-alienated polis.

Emily Anne Parker is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Towson University. She is the author of Elemental Difference and the Climate of the Body, Oxford University Press (2021), and with Anne van Leeuwen co-editor of Differences: Rereading Beauvoir and Irigaray (2017), also published by Oxford University Press. Her work explores the significance of the generic gesture of "the body" and the ecological gesture of the polis, and the relationship between them.

This event is organized by the Women's and Gender Studies Caucus.

German Studies Special Event

Hester Baer, "Nuclear Futures: Conceptualizing Care for the Post-Fukushima Age"

Saturday 12 March at 6:30 PM

Hester Baer.

This talk examines transnational cultural productions emerging in the wake of the 3.11 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, an event that resonated strongly in Germany. As a form of power, energy, and weaponry, and as an ecological threat, the nuclear defies containment within the borders of any nation state, just as it resists comprehension within human timescales. The works under consideration attend to the spatiotemporal challenges of representing the nuclear, making palpable what is invisible to the eye and imperceptible to the mind through interventions into aesthetic form. At the same time, they imagine an ethics of relationality, care, and repair, figuring coexistence—rather than survival—as an emergent response to environmental crisis. The talk draws on a collaborative research and teaching project that interrogates the concept of futurity in the context of environmental activism and artistic engagement with atomic issues from 1945 to the present, organized by Baer and her UMD colleague Michele M. Mason, an associate professor of Japanese cultural studies. With reference to this project, Baer considers the potential of care-based artistic, scholarly, and pedagogical frameworks for responding to the precarity of the present.

Hester Baer is Professor of German and Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she also serves as a core faculty member in the comparative literature program and an affiliate in the Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her research and teaching focus on gender and sexuality in film and media, historical and contemporary feminisms, German literature and culture in the 21st Century, and environmental humanities. Baer is the author of German Cinema in the Age of Neoliberalism (2021) and Dismantling the Dream Factory: Gender, German Cinema, and the Postwar Quest for a New Film Language (2009). Her monograph on West Germany's first feminist film, Ula Stöckl's The Cat Has Nine Lives (1968), will be published in Spring 2022. Baer previously served as co-editor of the journal Feminist German Studies, and she is a current co-editor of the German Quarterly. Together with Michele M. Mason, Baer is editing a volume in progress, Nuclear Futures in the Post-Fukushima Age.

This event is organized by the German Studies Area.

Hispanophone & Lusophone Studies Special Event

Benita Sampedro Vizcaya, "Care, Colonialism, and the Archive: A Spanish Female Doctor among a Fang Community in 1940s Rio Muni"

Saturday 12 March at 6:30 PM

Benita Sampedro Vizcaya.

Biomedical and scientific interventions played a pivotal role in the colonization of Africa, including in the Spanish Territories of the Gulf of Guinea, where they served as instruments of colonial control, repression, and institutionalized racism. Erasures in the dynamics of medical and scientific practices are a commonplace in colonial archiving. The Spanish female doctor Avemaría Vila Coro served eight years (1944-51) at the Catholic mission of Nkue-Fulan in the Río Muni region, among Fang communities, as a pediatrician and maternal health care doctor. She was responsible for the dispensario, hospital, and orphanage associated with the mission, and reports having seen an average of 160 patients daily, having conducted more than 5,000 tuberculosis tests to children, and having tried new therapies in 1,750 young malaria patients. While an outsider to the centralized, male-dominated, Francoist system of the Servicio Sanitario Colonial, she also authored numerous scientific essays on child and maternal care, as well as branching out onto other fields such as Fang traditional medicine. From outside the colonial official apparatus, she resisted mainstream medical approaches to colonial health, pointing instead to the adverse health conditions brought into the region by colonialism. Her validation of Fang medical knowledge elucidates a different colonial health approach to local bodies, illnesses, female, and child patients, while a discrete form of power relations is also set in motion.

Activating a gender perspective on colonial health experiences and interpretations, this presentation is not intended to memorialize the individual work of this female doctor, but rather to resituate the participatory role of Spanish women in colonial health sciences in Africa. It is also intended as an archival supplement to the dominant male narrative of colonial science, which served as a basis for the European construction of scientific racialized knowledge about Africa. Colonial health systems are always signifiers of past violence, and gender inclusion alone cannot disrupt white settler narratives but may stimulate a reflection on what lies at the intersection of gender, medical care, colonialism, and the archive.

Benita Sampedro Vizcaya is Professor of Spanish colonial studies in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Hofstra University. Her research engages with Spanish colonial pasts and presents, archives, and legacies, in North and sub-Saharan Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean. She is invested in the study of colonial links within and beyond the frame of Spanish imperial Atlantic and global networks, and she has published on colonial medical and scientific practices, colonial domestic labor, colonial carceral and deportation systems, and the colonial politics of meteorology. Her current inquiries take her to the intersections of gender and sciences in a colonial context.

This event is organized by the Hispanophone and Lusophone Area.

Italian Studies Special Event

Jacqueline Reich, "The Bronx Italian American History Initiative, Representation, and Race: The Case for Digital Community-Engaged Scholarship"


Jacqueline Reich.

Jacqueline Reich is Dean of the School of Communication and the Arts at Marist College, as well as a member of the doctoral faculty at the University of Florence’s History of Art and Performance Ph.D. program (SAGAS).  She is the author of The Maciste Films of Italian Silent Cinema (Indiana UP, 2015), winner of the AAIS 2015 Best Book on Film/Media prize and a Finalist for Best Book on Film from the Theatre Library Association; and Beyond the Latin Lover: Marcello Mastroianni, Masculinity, and Italian Cinema and the (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2004). She is also co-author, with Catherine O’Rawe, of Divi.  La mascolinità nel cinema italiano (Donzelli, 2015) and co-editor with Piero Garofalo of Re-viewing Fascism: Italian Cinema, 1922-1943 (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2002).  She has also written widely on Italian American cinema and culture, and is co-PI, with Dr. Kathleen LaPenta, of the Bronx Italian American History Initiative, a community-engaged oral history research project at Fordham University, where she was Chair of the Communication and Media Studies department for seven years.  

This event is organized by the Italian Studies Area.