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Professor Michael Thornton Awarded Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award

Professor Michael Thornton has received a Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award. The Awards Ceremony of the UW-Madison Distinguished Teaching Awards will be held April 11, 2018, at 5:00 in the Fluno Center auditorium, with a reception following. Everyone is welcome, but please RSVP


Christy Clark-Pujara among Outstanding Women of Color awardees honored on February 22.

Christy Clark-Pujara is a gifted and devoted teacher of both traditional and non-traditional students who frequently shares her profoundly relevant approach to African-American history with the broader community. Her academic research concerns the uncomfortable subjects of slavery and racism. Outside of her teaching responsibilities, she volunteers as a mentor for the McNair program and the Boys & Girls Club, guest lectures for The Odyssey Project, and serves as an instructor for the Justified Anger Black History program.

To register for this year’s event, go to Outstanding Women of Color Reception Class of 2017.


History Sandwiched In: Black Suffrage in Early Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin-Madison Associate Professor Christy Clark-Pujara examines attempts to achieve black male suffrage in early Wisconsin Tuesday, February 20, 2018, 12:15-1 pm, Wisconsin Historical Museum



Black History Month Open House

Celebrate Black History Month at the Wisconsin Historical Society headquarters with powerful stories told through historical objects, artifacts and documents

Black Suffrage in Wisconsin - Thursday, February 15th -4:00 - 5:00 pm- Wisconsin Historical Society Headquarters

Speaker: Christy Clark-Pujara, Associate Professor of History in the Department of Afro-American Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Congratulations to Christy Clark-Pujara and Anthony Black selected as Honored Instructors

University Housing residents have the opportunity to recognize outstanding classroom instructors through the Honored Instructor program. Over the past seven years, students who live in University Housing have honored hundreds of instructors on campus.


Christy Clark-Pujara to be honored as an Outstanding Woman of Color.

The UW-Madison Outstanding Women of Color Awards acknowledge and honor women of color among UW-Madison faculty, staff, students (undergraduate or post-baccalaureate) and in the Greater Madison community, who have made outstanding contributions in : social justice; advocacy for disadvantaged and/or marginalized populations; scholarly research, writing, speaking and/or teaching about race, ethnicity and indigeneity in American society; and community building to create an inclusive and respectful environment on or off campus.


Afro-American Studies affiliate and Information School Professor Ethelene Whitmire is giving a talk, On the Trail of African-Americans in 20th Century Denmark , on Thursday, November 16 at the Madison Public Library - Central Library from 5-7pm at 201 W Mifflin St, Madison, WI 53703


Thulani Davis to be librettist for new Opera

Thulani Davis, who wrote the librettos of Anthony Davis’s operas “X (The Life and Times of Malcolm X)” and “Amistad.” Will be the librettist for upcoming new opera, tentatively titled “The Little Rock Nine,” being written by the composer Tania León. The Opera will commemorate the integration of Little Rock Central High School by nine African-American teenagers in 1957.

Catasha Davis (MA '09 Afro-American Studies) Completed her PhD in Mass Communications. Congratulations Catasha!


Timothy Tyson, author of The Blood Of Emmet Till, will speak on 
Thursday, September 28, 2017 at the Wisconsin Historical Society 
Auditorium at 5:00 p.m.

In 1955, a fourteen-year-old black boy from Chicago named Emmett Till, while visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta, violated racial taboos in a harmless exchange with a young white storekeeper, Carolyn Bryant.  Three nights later, several of her kinsmen and family friends tortured the boy to death and threw his battered body in the river.  Part detective story, part political history, The Blood of Emmett Till (2017) is an explosive reconstruction of the lynching and trial, and their crucial impact on our history.  Award-winning author and former UW-Madison history faculty member Timothy Tyson writes profoundly and cinematically to update and redefine a history that still confounds us today in the age of Black Lives Matter.


Christy Clark-Pujara publishes “Contested: Black Suffrage in Early Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Magazine of History (June 1, 2017).

Historians have long identified three reasons why the 1846 constitution failed: it allowed immigrants who applied for citizenship to vote, granted married women the right to own property, made the question of black suffrage subject to popular referendum. Clark-Pujara focuses on why black suffrage was so contentious and the message that sent to blacks in Wisconsin and those thinking about settling in the state.

Daguerreotype of Ezekiel Gillespie, ca. 1840s. Gillespie’s attempt to vote in Wisconsin’s 1865 general election led to a lawsuit that extended voting rights to black men in Wisconsin


Professor Henry Drewal has received a Hilldale Award in Arts & Letters

Given annually since 1986-1987, the Hilldale Awards recognize distinguished contributions to teaching, research and service. One faculty member is honored in each division. Each recipient receives a $7,500 cash prize and is recognized at a spring meeting of the Faculty Senate.


Nikki Giovanni returns to UW-Madison

Here is a photo of Nikki Giovanni. from her last visit to UW-Madison in 2012, with folks from the Department of Afro-American Studies . She will be Presented as the Black History Month Keynote Speaker on Black Joy: Getting Back to Happy. Wednesday, February 15th, 2017 7pm to 9pm, Gordon Commons and Event Center, Symphony Room (2nd Floor)


Renga for Obama

"Renga for Obama" is a project engaging 200 poets in composing linked poems celebrating the Obama presidency. Professor Thulani Davis's contribution appeared today. You can check the site each day to watch the poem evolve.


Professor Sandra Adell Awarded Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award

Professor Sandra Adell has received a Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award. Congratulations from all of us in Afro-American Studies.
Chancellor Rebecca Blank and Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf will present the awards at a ceremony at 5 p.m. March 16 at the Fluno Center, 601 University Ave.


Christy Clark Pujara interviewed for podcast

Christy Clark-Pujara,  author of Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island,is interviewed in  Episode 118: Christy Clark-Pujara, The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island for Ben Franklin’s World – A Podcast About Early American History.
To explore the history of Rhode Island and its intimate involvement with slavery,
Christy reveals what the business of slavery was and how it differed from the institution of slavery; How Rhode Island became involved with slavery and the slave trade; And what life was like for free and enslaved African Americans in Rhode Island.


Congratulations to Christy Clark-Pujara! The The Divisional Committee approved her for tenure and promotion.


Fashioning Lives: Black Queers and the Politics of Literacy by Eric Darnell Pritchard

Analyzing the life stories of sixty Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people along with archival documents, literature, and film, author Eric Darnell Pritchard provides a theoretical framework for studying the literacy work of Black LGBTQ people. Pritchard discusses how literacy is used to inflict harm and how these harmful events prompt Black LGBTQ people to ensure their own survival through a process he calls “restorative literacies.” He highlights restorative literacies in literacy institutions, historical records repositories, religious and spiritual spaces, parties, community events, activist organizations, and digital spheres. This trailblazing study draws connections between race and queerness in literacy, composition, and rhetoric and provides the basis for a sustainable dialogue on their intersections in the discipline.

Eric Darnell Pritchard (UW PhD '08) is an assistant professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign. His article “For Colored Kids Who Committed Suicide, Our Outrage Isn’t Enough: Queer Youth of Color, Bullying, and the Discursive Limits of Identity and Safety,” in Harvard Educational Review won the 2014 CCCC Lavender Rhetorics Award for Excellence in Queer Scholarship.


Professor Sandra Adell's book, Contemporary Plays by African American Women: Ten Complete Works, from University of Illinois Press is now available.

African American Women have increasingly begun to see their plays performed from regional stages to Broadway. Yet many of these artists still struggle to gain attention. In this volume, Sandra Adell draws from the vital wellspring of works created by African American women in the twenty-first century to present ten plays by both prominent and up-and-coming writers. Taken together, the selections portray how these women engage with the history as the delve into—and shake up—issues of gender and class to craft compelling stories of African American life.


UW Faculty will be featured at the Benefit Concert for the New Pinney Library on Friday, September 30, 2016 at the Barrymore Theater

Friday, September 30, 2016 at 8:00 p.m.At the Barrymore Theater Madison Public Library Foundation presents A Benefit Concert for the New Pinney Library WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE - CELEBRATING THE SOUNDTRACK OF THE VIETNAM WAR
with authors

Professor Clark Pujara comments on the new African-American History Museum

Dr. Christy Clark-Pujara from the UW-Madison Department of Afro-American Studies talks to News 3 about what's to be learned from the new African-American History Museum opening in Washington D.C. Follow this link to see the clip.

18 April 2016

An Open Letter to the Students of Color of the University of Wisconsin-Madison

From The Faculty and Staff of the Department of Afro-American Studies

The faculty and staff of the Department of Afro-American Studies is thinking about you and keeping you in our hearts at this time of extreme stress and tension. Your anger is justified, your fear understandable. The disruption of Professor Almiron's class, and the arrest of your fellow student, King Shabazz, while important in itself, is only the most recent in a series of events that has been steadily escalating in recent months and weeks. What so many of you are experiencing isn't a sign of individual weakness. It's a version of post-traumatic stress syndrome, a mental health crisis as serious as those following campus shootings or natural disasters. We admire the way many of you are holding up but we understand what a strain this represents.

In recognition of that fact, we call on faculty across the campus to respond to the crisis in a spirit of care and generosity as we near the end of the semester. Further, we ask the administration to affirm that call, as well as to offer public assurances that these events will not interfere with King's plans to graduate at the end of the semester. Further, we ask that emergency mental health support be made available to all students affected by recent events.

The most important part of our message to you is simple: do your best to keep your eyes on the prize, and know that we're there to support you as you walk a difficult path. We know you’re feeling torn between the demands of your studies and your desire to take an active role in responding to what’s happening. Let some of the burden be shifted to our shoulders. Your first job is to be a student: to succeed in your classes, earn your degree, and go on to live a full life. We know that for many of you, that life will be one that helps create a world in which your children won't have to deal with what you're dealing with now. And remember that everyone in the communities you’re working for knows how important it is that you place your studies first.

Our purpose in writing this letter isn't simply to offer encouragement and support, and certainly not to add to the barrage of empty words since the Tony Robinson shooting. Rather, we're making a public statement of our individual and collective commitment to pressuring UW to take concrete actions on your behalf. Part of that is pledging ourselves to listen even more carefully, whether to specific suggestions or individual concerns. Our doors are open and we'll meet regularly as a faculty to figure out how to move ahead. Changing the University’s culture isn't your job, it's ours. But we know the deepest insights and most fruitful ideas will come from you as you bring your intelligence, creativity and courage to bear on the larger world.

With these principles in mind, the Department and our allies including faculty from other Ethnic and Indigenous Studies programs, have begun discussions with the administration, including the Provost, Chancellor, Dean of Students and the Chief of University Police, who offered a sincere apology to Professor Almiron. That's a start, but it means little if not supported by action on multiple fronts. During that conversation, we advanced several specific ideas:

1) That UW makes a firm commitment, supported by resource allocation, to meeting the mental health needs of students of color. This means providing extra access to support services

during this time of crisis and following through on the Chancellor's recent promise to hire two counselors with primary training in race and diversity;

2) That the administration operates with transparency and consistency in dealing with issues of student discipline. This means taking incidents of verbal, physical and sexual harassment seriously and responding in ways that actively address the underlying issues and problems.

3) That the University commits to making the Ethnic Studies Requirement meaningful. This means requiring the ESR to be fulfilled within the first two years on campus through courses that focus on diversity in the United States and involve face-to-face contact with instructional staff and other students. We understand clearly that this will entail a significant shift of resources, and we know that the budget is tight for everyone. But the fact is that faculty and instructional staff in Afro-American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chican@ and Latin@ Studies, and American Indian Studies at UW are experts in this area and know how to teach courses that make a difference. UW needs to move beyond rhetoric and demonstrate that its commitment is real.

Our concern is with you, although we believe, and have seen, that many white students have the potential to become allies. We love you, value you, and trust that you'll survive as your parents survived the malevolent neglect of the 1980s, your grandparents survived Jim Crow, your ancestors kept faith when it seemed impossible. You are the bright and morning star of their fondest hopes and we are proud of you.

Our offices and classes are spaces dedicated to thoughtful, searching and engaged discussions about what's at stake for students of color, and all students: the need to deal with racism as an environmental toxin, an atmosphere we all breathe that students of color, at times, are made to feel that they face alone. If we should have learned anything in the 20th century, it's that these are things that no one faces alone.

You'll make it. We're with you and we promise to do everything we can to help.


Focus on the Humanities: Distinguished Faculty Lectures presents Henry Drewal

This Wednesday April 6 at 5:30 p.m. in Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L140, Henry Drewal will present: “Come to Your Senses! – Sensiotics and Understandings of Art, Culture, and History”


Doug Bradley and Craig Werner will be at Edgewood College on Thursday, April 7

They will explore how and why U.S. troops turned to music as a way of coping with the complexities of the war they had been sent to fight. Their work casts a new and unique light on the music of the 1960s, emphasizing the way that actual listeners embedded music in the fabric of their daily lives, and the way that music helps heal psychic wounds.


Catasha Davis (M.A., '09) will be inducted into the Bouchet Graduate Honors Society on March 16

The Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society commemorates the first African American to earn a doctorate degree from an American university (Physics, Yale University, 1876). 
The Bouchet Society seeks to develop a network of scholars who exemplify academic and personal excellence, foster environments of support, and serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy – exemplifying the spirit and example of Dr. Bouchet. Congratulations Catasha!


Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island - By Christy Clark-Pujara scheduled for release on August 30, 2016.

Historians have written expansively about the slave economy and its vital role in early American economic life. In Dark Work, Christy Clark-Pujara tells the story of one state in particular whose role was outsized: Rhode Island. Clark-Pujara draws on the documents of the state, the business, organizational, and personal records of their enslavers, and the few first-hand accounts left by enslaved and free black Rhode Islanders to reconstruct their lived experiences.


Soundtrack of the Vietnam War


Join authors Doug Bradley and Craig Werner for a discussion of their latest publication, We Gotta Get Out of This Place: the Soundtrack of the Vietnam War. This book explores the impact of popular music on veteran’s experiences during the war, how and why U.S. troops turned to music as a way of coping with the complexities of the war they had been sent to fight. February 18, 2016, 5:00-7:00 p.m., Varsity Hall I, Union South


Professor Greene Publishes in Journal of African American History

Christina Greene recently published: “She Ain’t No Rosa Parks: The Joan Little Rape-Murder Case and Jim Crow Justice in the Post-Civil Rights South,” Journal of African American History Special Issue: Gendering the Carceral State: African American Women, History & Criminal Justice (Summer 2015)

Arturo Lindsay to Speak Thursday, February 18.


Professor Thulani Davis’ article “Recovering Fugitive Freedoms” is published by Duke University’s Social Text.

To see a copy of the article, click here


Contemporary Plays by African American Women: Ten Complete Works by Professor Sandra Adell is published by University of Illinois press.

African American women have increasingly begun to see their plays performed from regional stages to Broadway. Yet many of these artists still struggle to gain attention. In this volume, Sandra Adell draws from the vital wellspring of works created by African American women in the twenty-first century to present ten plays by both prominent and up-and-coming writers. Taken together, the selections portray how these women engage with history as they delve into--and shake up--issues of gender and class to craft compelling stories of African American life. Gliding from gritty urbanism to rural landscapes, these works expand boundaries and boldly disrupt modes of theatrical representation. Published by University of Illinois Press


Afro-American Studies Affiliate Ethelene Whitmire awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for 2016-17 and tenure in the School of Library and Information Studies

Congratulations to Afro-American Studies Affiliate Ethelene Whitmire, who has been promoted to full professor. She was an honoree at a reception in December, 2015 for newly tenured and promoted faculty of color. Professor Whitmire, who teaches in the School of Library and Information Studies, has also been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for 2016-17, to Denmark to continue her research and writing on black expatriates in Denmark during the 1960s.


Doug Bradley and Craig Werner appearing in Madison to present "We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War (Culture, Politics and the Cold War)"

Madison! Here’s your opportunity to meet the authors, Doug Bradley and Craig Werner and learn about their book: We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War (Culture, Politics and the Cold War)
- 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24 at Mystery to Me Bookstore 
- 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10 at A Room of One's Own Bookstore 
- 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16 with Vets for Peace at the Urban League of Greater Madison (Evejue Community Room)

The Red Shirt™, Limited Edition by Virgil Abloh ’03

Virgil Abloh ’03 is a graduate of UW-Madison’s College of Engineering. After receiving his master’s in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, he seamlessly transitioned into the fashion world. Abloh has a successful line of high fashion streetwear — Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh — and also works as Kanye West’s creative director. Read more about Abloh and his collaboration with The Red Shirt™, Limited Edition.

The Red Shirt, Limited Edition by Virgil Abloh will go on sale October 12. The University Book Store will carry an exclusive supply in-store, and online sales will be available only through October 30.

As always, proceeds from sales will go toward student scholarships, including a special scholarship fund created by Abloh.


Squad: The Calling of the Common Hero, Photography by Faisal Abdu’Allah

Squad: The Calling of the Common Hero, Photography by Faisal Abdu’Allah conceived by Faisal Abdu’Allah, Associate Professor, Art Department, and developed collaboratively with UW–Madison student curators and Magnolia Editions, extends themes that Abdu’Allah explored in his 2007 London show Goldfinger, and his 2010 project Ten Degrees (Adeve) created while a visiting professor at Stanford University.
Thursday, September 24
, 5:30 p.m. with Eddie Chambers, associate professor, Department of Art and Art History, University of Texas at Austin, author of Black Artists in British Art: A History from 1950 to the Present.
Closing reception, 6:30 p.m., refreshments, live music, cash bar.

Black Intellectual Thought in Education: The Missing Traditions of Anna Julia Cooper, Carter G. Woodson, and Alain LeRoy Locke -  By Carl A. Grant, Keffrelyn D. Brown and Anthony L. Brown

Black Intellectual Thought in Education celebrates the exceptional academic contributions of African-American education scholars Anna Julia Cooper, Carter G. Woodson, and Alain Leroy Locke to the causes of social science, education, and democracy in America. By focusing on the lives and projects of these three figures specifically, it offers a powerful counter-narrative to the dominant, established discourse in education and critical social theory--helping to better serve the population that critical theory seeks to advocate

"We Gotta Get Out of This Place" scheduled for publication

In "We Gotta Get Out of This Place", Doug Bradley and Craig Werner place popular music at the heart of the American experience in Vietnam. They explore how and why U.S. troops turned to music as a way of connecting to each other and the World back home and of coping with the complexities of the war they had been sent to fight.
"What is constantly so astounding is how (discussing music) makes it so much easier for vets to talk about what it was like there, how they felt and how they are feeling now," says Doug Bradley, a Vietnam War veteran and director of communications for the UW System.
Craig Werner, chair of the Afro-American studies department and co-author of the book, says that power of song for veterans can fill the void where words simply fail.
"We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War" is scheduled for release in October 2015

The Memphis Center at Rhodes College Welcomes Dr. Charles Hughes as New Director

Rhodes College welcomes Dr. Charles Hughes (MA ’05) as the new director of the Memphis Center. Previously a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Rhodes, he helped to establish the Memphis Centered Lecture Series. A teacher and scholar of Memphis music and history.

"Established in October 2012, the Memphis Center focuses on the human experience of the Memphis and Mid-South region. It serves as an academic hub, supporting Rhodes faculty, staff, and student engagement with Memphis organizations and neighborhoods as well as experiential learning opportunities in the community." 

Cornelius Gilbert’s article: Office Hours: Leading from Within in Higher Education published in Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Cornelius Gilbert (M.S. ' 01) published his article, Office Hours: Leading from Within in Higher Education in Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Cornelius Gilbert is an assistant professor of Adult and Higher Education at Northern Illinois University.

"Pedagogy of the Post-Racial: The Texts, Textiles, and Teachings of African American Women" By Shanna Greene Benjamin Ph.D.

Shanna Greene Benjamin, (M.A., Afro-American Studies, Ph.D., English, University of Wisconsin – Madison), assistant professor of English at Grinnell College has  published  "Pedagogy of the Post-Racial: The Texts, Textiles, and Teachings of African American Women" in Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International.


Simon Balto completes PhD in History

Congratulations to Simon Balto (M.A. '10) who earned his PhD in History from UW-Madison! He has accepted a position at Ball State University, in Indiana.

Rhodessa Jones in Madison
Creating Serious Fun: The Medea Project in South Africa
Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 4:30 p.m.
Nancy Nicholas Hall
Room 1199 Wisconsin Idea Room
1300 Linden Dr.

Rhodessa Jones in an actor, writer, director and founder of the internationally claimed “Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women.”  Now more than thirty years old, it has become a model for community-based, process-oriented theater for incarcerated women around the world.  Since 2006 she has conducted workshops for incarcerated women in South Africa.


Craig Werner, Evjue-Bascom Professor of Afro-American Studies, Van Hise Outreach Teaching Award

In every aspect of his storied career, Craig Werner shares his gifts, scholarship and commitment to social justice far beyond the borders of campus. An accomplished author, mentor, and former chair of the UW’s Departments of Integrated Liberal Studies and Afro-American Studies, he’s also a member of the nominating committee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a contributor to National Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Radio. Through his personal and scholarly outreach, Werner shares insights with diverse communities, including minorities, the underprivileged, K–12 teachers and veterans. And through his call-and-response teaching approach, Werner brings “downright magic” to any classroom.

“Craig Werner is the personification of the Wisconsin Idea and the university’s historic commitment to outreach. He lives it, he breathes it, and he practices it,” says Doug Bradley, a lecturer in the Department of Integrated Liberal Studies.

Music in a Box: The Containment and Commodification of Paramount Records

Thursday, April 23 at 5:30 pm Room
L140 Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, 800 University Ave.
Free and Open to the Public. Directions and Parking Information here.

This moderated conversation will “unbox” the Paramount Records story, discussing notable songs, addressing issues of commodification, the creation of artificial barriers between “black” and “white” music, the early history of the phonograph and record cabinet, and the subsequent physical containment of music. 

New Media in Black Women's Autobiography: Intrepid Embodiment and Narrative Innovation By Tracy Curtis

The Department of Afro-American Studies is delighted to announce the publication of a book by Assistant Professor Tracy Curtis: New Media in Black Women's Autobiography: Intrepid Embodiment and Narrative Innovation

With the rapid expansion of the field of autobiography due to the emergence of new digital media, black American women have excelled at expanding the genre's boundaries as they address disparaging depictions of themselves. Examining novelists, bloggers, and other creators of new media, this study focuses on autobiographies by American black women since 1980, including Audre Lorde, Jill Nelson, and Janet Jackson. New Media in Black Women's Autobiography considers how black women adopt new media forms to assert their place as the rightful creators of their own image. Using 1980 as a starting point, Tracy Curtis explores how black women's insistence on writing embodiment into their narratives addresses and supplants images deployed against them.


Craig Werner awarded the Van Hise Outreach Teaching Award

Craig Werner has been awarded the prestigious Van Hise Outreach Teaching Award. The award honors Craig's extraordinary contributions to the Odyssey Program, to WPR, and to his outreach efforts (via ILS and other units) to veterans groups and other under-represented communities. The nomination was a team effort across these units, but it seems appropriate to me that Craig will be recognized as a member of ILS.

Craig continues to embody the spirit of Charles Van Hise, for whom the award is named and who wrote that "the beneficent influences of the university [should be] available to every home in the state." Congratulations, Craig, for sustaining that legacy.

A reception honoring Craig will be held in the Fluno Center on Wednesday, April 29th at 5:00 p.m., where Chancellor Blank will present the award.

Comparative U.S. Studies presents:
Policing Blackness after the Second World War: Notes from Occupied Territory
A talk by Simon Balto

Date: Thursday, March 05, 2015
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: L140 Conrad A. Elvehjem Building

Simon Balto, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History, will deliver this lecture as a part of the Comparative US Studies Racial Justice and Incarceration Lecture Series and the Young Gifted and Black's Black Lives Matter Speaker Series.

Simon Balto is currently completing a Ph.D. in History at UW-Madison, after which he will join the faculty at Ball State University as an Assistant Professor of Histury.  His research explores dynamics of policing and race in America prior to the War on Drugs, particularly from World War I through the Black Power era and with a special focus on the police-Black community relations in Chicago.  His writing has been featured in publications ranging from the Progressive to The Washington Spectator to the Journal of African American History


Catasha Davis awarded an Exceptional Service Award

Catasha Davis, (MA ’09) currently a PhD student in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, was awarded an Exceptional Service Award in the UW-Madison 2014 Campus-Wide Teaching Assistant Awards.  Among glowing comments: “I have been consistently, enormously impressed with Catasha’s commitment to high quality teaching, her dedication to building a sense of intellectual community among graduate students and faculty, and her proficiency end efficiency in accomplishing these goals.”


Thulani Davis brings African-American history alive

The College of Letters and Science News published an article about award-winning writer and journalist Thulani Davis who joined our faculty in Fall 2014. Read it here


Christina Greene receives a Resident Fellowship at the Institute for Research in the Humanities

Christina Greene received a Resident Fellowship at the Institute for Research in the Humanities for the Fall 2015 semester for her book-length project: “She Ain’t no Rosa Parks: Feminism, Black Power and Mass Incarceration Politics in the 1970’s Joan Little Race Murder Case"


Christy Clark-Pujara receives Vilas Associates Award

Christy Clark-Pujara has received the Vilas Associates Award for the research and writing of her second book project. From Slavery to Suffrage: African Americans on the Wisconsin Frontier, 1740 to 1866, which will examine how the practice of race-based slavery, black settlement, and debates over abolition and black rights shaped white-black race relations.
Winners receive up to two-ninths of research salary support (including the associated fringe costs) for both summers 2015 and 2016, as well as a $12,500 flexible research fund in each of the two fiscal years.


To Write in the Light of Freedom: The Newspapers of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Schools by William Sturkey and Jon Hale

The Department of Afro-American Studies is delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of To Write in the Light of Freedom: The Newspapers of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Schools, edited by UW alum William Sturkey and Jon Hale.  Currently a  (Margaret Walker Alexander Series in African American Studies) postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, William received his M.A. from UW-Madison in 2007, where he wrote a thesis titled "Houses of Liberty: The Impact of Freedom Schools During SNCC's 1964 Freedom Summer" and taught AAS 231.
To Write in the Light of Freedom contains hundreds of newspaper articles written by those black youths who yearned to gain knowledge and pursue greater levels of freedom. The homegrown newspapers from the many schools contain a variety of poems, stories, essays, and testimonies that yield raw, honest reactions to Freedom Schools, to the civil rights movement, and to life under Jim Crow. Together, these transcribed newspaper pieces recover the inspiring voices of Freedom School students, and offer a unique vision of how everyday youth responded to the clarion call of the civil rights movement.
The book has already received glowing comments from scholars and activists including Robin D.G. Kelley and Julian Bond.  Bond describes the project as follows:  "Bossie Mae Harring wrote in the Drew Freedom Fighter, 'Someone has opened our eyes to freedom and we will walk in the light of freedom until we achieve our victory.' Ms. Harring was one of thousands of students attending Freedom Schools in Mississippi, opened in 1964's Freedom Summer to provide an alternative education to the mis-education Mississippi provided for black children. To Write in the Light of Freedom is a collection from the Freedom Schools' newspapers. In it, you will read the hopes and dreams of Mississippi's black youth. You will be entranced by their writing and interested in knowing more about Freedom Summer and the Freedom Schools. This is a largely unknown history of perseverance and triumph over great odds. Read on."

Storm: A Typhoon Haiyan Recovery Project

What survives in the wake of a storm? One year after Super Typhoon Haiyan, Storm assembles a community of responders. Storm chronicles the creativity generated despite and beyond Haiyan's destruction.

The Philippines is exposed to about nineteen tropical cyclones per year. But in November 2013 Typhoon Haiyan became the worst disaster in the history of the Philippines. Haiyan killed more than 6,300 people, cost over $2 billion in damages, and affected over 16 million people. This project was co-curated by Johanna F. Almiron and J. Lorenzo Perillo. November 2014


Thulani Davis to speak at symposium

Thulani Davis, Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies and Nelly Y. McKay Fellow will be participating in "Confronting Racial Capitalism: The Black Radical Tradition & Cultures of Liberation" at The Center for Place Culture and Politics.


The Department of Afro-American Studies is delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of books by former students Charles Hughes and David Gilbert.

Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South by Charles L. Hughes

Hughes offers a provocative reinterpretation of this key moment in American popular music and challenges the conventional wisdom about the racial politics of southern studios and the music that emerged from them. Drawing on interviews and rarely used archives, Hughes brings to life the daily world of session musicians, producers, and songwriters at the heart of the country and soul scenes. In doing so, he shows how the country-soul triangle gave birth to new ways of thinking about music, race, labor, and the South in this pivotal period.

The Product of Our Souls: Ragtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace by David Gilbert

Gilbert sheds new light on the little-known era of African American music and culture between the heyday of minstrelsy and the Harlem Renaissance. He demonstrates how black performers played a pioneering role in establishing New York City as the center of American popular music, from Tin Pan Alley to Broadway, and shows how African Americans shaped American mass culture in their own image.

Distinguished Faculty Lecture:

On December 3, 2014, Professor Werner will present "For What It’s Worth: Toward a New History of the Sixties" presenting an introduction to his plans for his next book project, a history of the 1960's.


Accepted for publication

Craig Werner’s and Doug Bradley’s book, to be titled, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of Vietnam” has been accepted for publication by University of Massachusetts Press around the fall of 2015.  This book will concentrate on the music and experience of Vietnam vets.

New release

Love and Happiness: Eros According to Dante, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and the Rev. Al Green, by Craig Werner and Rhonda Mawhood Lee, was released October 14, 2014. “Love and Happiness is a profound meditation on the meaning of eros, the creative and disturbing power usually thought of as romantic love. Four of the greatest artists of the Western world lead a pilgrimage through the erotic cosmos, exploring real-world dilemmas that they knew well and that still bedevil us. First we follow in Dante’s footsteps from Inferno to Paradiso, then Shakespeare is our guide to Hell, Jane Austen to Purgatory, and Al Green to Paradise.” In conjunction with this release, Professor Werner has also published a website:


Embodied Knowledge: Sensory Studies in the 21st Century

Henry Drewal has organized a symposium at UW-Madison to take place on October 3rd.


2014 Master's Degrees Awarded:

Karren Lawson
Completion Date: 5/12/2014
Chair: Christy Clark-Pujara
Capstone Paper Title:  " "Revisiting the Black Panther Party"
Dawn Lemerand-Poepping
Completion Date: 5/21/2014
Chair: Sandra Adell
Thesis Title:   "The Importance of Place in the Fiction of Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and Ann Petry"
Oladipupo Oyeleye
Completion Date: 5/23/2014
Chair: Craig Werner
Thesis Title:   : “Webs of Re-membering: Navigating the Symbolic East in Black Autobiography (Memoir)”
Ayasha Tripp
Completion Date: 6/9/2014
Chair: Craig Werner
Thesis Title: "Tracing the Narratives of 21st Century Black Theatre Companies that redefine The Black Aesthetic”  


Honored Instructor Awards


University Housing residents have the opportunity to recognize outstanding classroom instructors through the Honored Instructor program. Over the past seven years, students who live in University Housing have honored hundreds of instructors on campus. This semester, three instructors in the Afro-American Studies Department were awarded Honored Instructor Awards. Congratulations to Simon Balto, Christy Clark Pujara and Craig Werner!

Fred Ho Dies

Fred Ho

Fred Ho, a composer, saxophonist, writer and radical activist who composed politically charged operas, suites, oratorios and ballets that mixed jazz with popular and traditional elements of what he called Afro-Asian culture, died on Saturday at his home in Brooklyn. He was 56.

Fred Ho’s music left no doubt as to his stance against racism, historical injustice, oppressive political and economic forces that threaten human life, and the fate of the earth. In his essays, poetry, other writings, and activism, he elaborated on his convictions and showed himself to be an indefatigable advocate for collective involvement and a revolutionary attitude. He also elucidated his progress as an artist dedicated to cross-cultural aesthetics and social transformation. For Fred Ho, music, creativity, imagination, and a committed political belief in art are absolutely necessary in order to change the conditions in the world and strive for human freedom.
In 2008-2009, Fred Ho joined the Department of Afro-American Studies as the Fall 2008 Interdisciplinary
Artist in Residence. 

We enjoyed his presence and mourn his passing.

Joseph "Piko" Ewoodzie has been awarded a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship


Joseph "Piko" Ewoodzie, long-time T.A. for Afro-American Studies 156, has been awarded a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship in connection with his research on the cultures of food amongst African Americans in Jackson, Misssissippi. Joseph will defend his dissertation at University of Wisconsin, Madison in May. Now living in central Ohio, Joseph is a teaching and dissertation fellow at Kenyon College.

A Nation Still Under Construction: Observing the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act”


The Office of the Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer will host a daylong seminar focusing on the past, present and future of civil rights for its premiere spring event this semester.  “A Nation Still Under Construction: Observing the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act” will be on Wednesday, March 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Union South’s Varsity Hall.
The featured keynote speaker will be Wisconsin civil rights pioneer Vel Phillips, a native of Milwaukee and the first African American woman to graduate from the Wisconsin Law School, (L.L.B ‘51) and serve as Wisconsin Secretary of State.

Congratulations to Dr. Eric Pritchard for receiving the 2014 CCCC Lavender Rhetorics Award!

Eric Prichard

The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), selected Dr. Eric Pritchard (UW PhD '08) as the inaugural winner of the 2014 CCCC Lavender Rhetorics Award for Excellence in Queer Scholarship’s Article Award for his article, “For Colored Kids Who Committed Suicide, Our Outrage Isn't Enough: Queer Youth of Color, Bullying, and the Discursive Limits of Identity and Safety” which appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of Harvard Educational Review. Congratulations!

Former Student honored at The Southern Historical Association Conference

Dr Hughes

The Southern Historical Association announced the winner of its 2013 C. Vann Woodward Dissertation Prize this past weekend at its annual meeting in St. Louis, and Dr. Charles Hughes (MA ’05) , the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Rhodes’ Memphis Center, was chosen as a finalist/runner-up.  The prize recognizes the best dissertation on Southern history completed and defended in 2013.

Two former students of Afro-American Studies presented papers at the Southern Historical Association Conference in St. Louis over this past weekend.

Dr Ford

Dr. Tanisha Ford (MA ’05), Assistant Professor of  Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, presented,  "Soul Sistas of the South: SNCC Women and the Politics of Dress."  


Dr Sturkey

Dr. William Sturkey (MA ’07) Postdoctoral Fellow at UNC, Department of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, presented:  "Handmade for Self-Help: Clothing Manufacture and the Poor People's Corporation in the Fight for Black Women's Political Rights, 1965-1974"

Former Student published in The Feminist Wire

Dr Williams

Dr. Shannen Dee Williams (MA ’06) is the 2013-2014 Postdoctoral Fellow in African-American studies at Case Western Reserve University, recently published in the Feminist Wire: Segregated Sisterhoods and the Mercurial Politics of Racial Truth-Telling


Roberto Rivera Delivers Conclusion Message at Unreasonable Institute Workshop


Roberto Rivera's independent major at UW was grounded in Afro-American Studies. He has continued to take the vision he developed in Madison into the world outside academia, working both with urban students and with mentors and educators. Roberto is the founder of the Good Life Organization and author of the "Fulfill the Dream" curriculum. The Good Life Organization publishes multi-media educational tools and trains educators, youth workers, and parents about connecting positive youth development to community development. This link takes you to the talk he delivered at the conclusion of The Unreasonable Institute workshop in the summer of 2013. He is now working on his Ph.D. in Education at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

PhD Canditate Publishes in Journal of African-American History


Simon Balto (UW MA '10 Afro-Amrican Studies) is now a bridge student in history and has published "'Occupied Territory': Police Repression and Black Resistance in Postwar Milwaukee, 1950-1968"in the latest issue of the Journal of African-American History.  An illustration from his article is the front cover image.


Gabe Javier to Present - Making the Grade: Creating and Sustaining living and learning environments inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities

Gabe Javier

On Tuesday, October 1 from 12:30-2:00,  Gabe Javier, Assistant Dean of  Students and Director, LGBT Campus Center will present, Making the Grade: Creating and Sustaining living and learning environments inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities
In this session, participants will explore and reflect on our shared commitment for inclusive environments for LGBTQ members of the UW community. Participants will become familiar with data driven and best practices as well as engage in dialogue how to ensure those practices are durable and sustainable. Come learn about the work of the LGBT Campus Center and the social justice, cross movement allyhood model from which the Center operates. Presentation will take place in in the SLIS Commons.  (Room 4207 Helen C. White)


John Cullen Gruesser, (PhD UW ’89 with a minor in Afro-American Studies) has a new book.


Race, Gender and Empire in American Detective Fiction by John Cullen Gruesser has just been published by McFarland.
“This is an astute and wide-ranging study of detective fiction in its historical contexts.  The broad sweep of the discussion combined with close, perceptive attention to textual detail allows Gruesser to create a distinctive and valuable analysis of cross-cultural currents within American crime writing, shedding new light on the genre’s representations of gender, race and empire.” – Crimeculture
For more information click here and here


Ed Pavlić's visiting hours at the color line, a 2012 National Poetry Series winner

“What is most important is the great certainty with which Pavlić writes; he is faithful to the world where he grew up; and layers that with courage after sight. “ ~ Grace Cavalieri

Color Lline

Ed Pavlić (UW MA ’92) won a 2012 National Poetry Series award for his book, visiting hours at the color line. It was recently reviewed in Washington Independent Review of Books by Grace Cavalieri
To see the full review, click here

PhD Canditate to speak in Paris

Obama Johnson

Barack Obama (as Illinois Senator) and Doria Dee Johnson

This September, Doria Johnson (UW MA ’09)  will discuss racial discrimination - from lynching to the murder of Trayvon Martin - at a conference to be held at Dorothy's Gallery , 27, rue Keller. 75011 Paris.
Johnson’s work is strongly tied to her family history. Her great-great grandfather, Anthony Crawford, was lynched in Abbeville, South Carolina in 1916 because of an altercation over the price of cotton seed. Johnson worked tirelessly on the historic United States Senate Steering Committee that pressed the senators to acknowledge and apologize for the Senate's unwillingness to enact federal legislation against lynching over the greater course of a century. Resolution 39, which was supported by then Illinois Senator Barack Obama, was passed on June 13, 2005.  For details see this article.


Recent article in Harvard Review by Afro-American Studies graduate

Eric Prichard

Eric Darnell Pritchard (UW PhD '08) is an assistant professor of African and African diaspora studies at the University of Texas at Austin. His writings have appeared in Palimpsest, Southern Communication Journal, Home Girls Makes Some Noise: Hip Hop Feminism Anthology, African American Review, and Diverse, among other scholarly volumes. He is presently working on a book-length manuscript titled Fashioning Lives: Black Queers and the Politics of Literacy. His most recent publication in Harvard Review: For Colored Kids Who Committed Suicide, Our Outrage Isn’t Enough: Queer Youth of Color, Bullying, and the Discursive Limits of Identity and Safety”  can be referenced here

Professor Craig Werner on All Things Considered


Professor Craig Werner was recently interviewed by David C. Barnette of Cleveland Public Radio in a piece about the changes in popular music and what people were listening to in 1963, the summer of the March on Washington for racial equality. Werner says, . "If, on some basic level, the civil rights movement is about freedom, it's about the freedom to be who you are, not fit yourself into a niche. And I think you really feel that in the soundtrack of '63." To listen to the broadcast, click here

2013 Master's Degrees Awarded:

Sean Moxley-Kelly  
Completion Date: 5/13/2013
Chair: Michael Thornton
Thesis Title:  "Please Allow Me Space In Your Distinguished Paper": An Interpretation of
the Content of Letters to the Editor in The Chicago Defender, 1916-1925
Kofi Ogbujiagba   
Completion Date: 1/17/2013
Chair: Freida High W. Tesfagiorgis
Thesis Title:  Images of Barack Obama  in the Media: A Case Study of Ebony Magazine from 2004 to 2009
Jaryd  Spann   
Completion Date: 5/14/2013
Chair: Craig Werner
Thesis Title:  Toward a Black Male Feminism for the Hip Hop Generations
Todd Whitney   
Completion Date: 5/16/2013
Chair: Craig Werner
Thesis Title: Welcome to Based Jam, Nothing like Space Jam: Lil B and the Changing Face(s) of Hip-Hop


Jaryd Rianna

Congratulations to Tom W. Shick Award winners Jaryd Spann and Rianna Bailey

Jaryd Spann completed his MA in Afro-American Studies after a BA here.  He will pursue  second Master’s Degree at degree in Education and Special Education at Lesley University and plans to teach secondary literacy in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area. 
Rianna Bailey completed her BA in Afro-American Studies and plans to take a two year break before pursuing a a graduate degree in counseling and/or education policy.  She will also begin a new job at the Flex Degree Program with the Division of Continuing  Education, Outreach and E-Learning at the UW Extension


Shannon Dee Williams (M.A. ’06) Successfully defended her dissertation at Rutgers on April 8, 2013, and will receive her Ph.D. next week on May 19. She was awarded the Postdoctoral Fellowship in African-American History/Studies at Case Western Reserve University for the 2013-2014 academic year, and will join the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville as an assistant professor of United States and African-American history in the fall of 2014.


B Lee

LIKE WATER: Exploration of Ecosurvival Through Hip Hop Dance & Martial Arts

A series of events honoring the environment & Bruce Lee
April 29 through May 2, 2013

The Department of Afro-American studies joins  Asian American Studies Program, Dance Department, Office of the Vice-Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, UW-Madison in presenting this workshop with events all week. Events include:

Monday, April 29, Noon -1:30 pm, Student Activity Center, Multipurpose Room
Monday, April 29, 6-7 pm, 510 Lathrop Hall
When:  Tuesday, April 30, 1:20-3:10 pm
When: Wednesday, May 1, 12 – 1:30 pm              
Location: Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, The Forum, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 330 N Orchard St, Madison, WI 53715
When:  Thursday, May 2, 1:20-3:10 pm
Location:  249 Lathrop Hall (2nd floor, west wing)



Planetwalk 2013: On foot through Indiana and Ohio

Afro-American Studies Department Administrator, Dolores Liamba, was part of "Planetwalk 2013" during spring break in rural Ohio/Indiana with John Francis, (conservationist and National Geographic Education Fellow) and a group of undergraduate students from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. National Geographic has posted stories about the walk on the website under NewsWatch, Explorers Journal.


Thoughts of Home and God

"Thoughts of Home and God" by Tod Haskins Fredericks

Artist, Tod Haskin Fredericks, who took classes with the Department of Afro-American Studies in the department's early years, stopped by to donate several books, prints and this beautiful painting: Thoughts of Home and God, depicting Milton M. Holland, Orderly Sergeant, Company B 5th United States Colored Infantry.
We are so grateful. This painting now hangs in our conference room.


In Search of Power

Professor Gayle Plummer's “In Search of Power: African Americans in the Era of Decolonization, 1956-1974” released to critical praise.

In Search of Power is a history of the era of civil rights, decolonization, and Black Power, from 1956 to 1974. Brenda Gayle Plummer traces the detailed connections between African Americans' involvement in international affairs and how they shaped American foreign policy, integrating African American history, the history of the African Diaspora, and the history of United States foreign relations.

"With theoretical sophistication and historical nuance, Brenda Gayle Plummer has written a wonderfully provocative book. In Search of Power boldly illustrates the productive work of 'hybrid histories' as it charts the complex convergence of the hopes, dreams, and failures of black freedom struggles at home and abroad. I suspect we will be grappling with this book for a long time to come." - Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Princeton University


Eric Pritchard

Congratulations to Eric Pritchard for his accomplishments at University of Texas at Austin.

Eric Darnell Pritchard is Assistant Professor in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department and a Faculty Affiliate of English, the Warfield Center for African and African-American Studies (WCAAAS), and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.  He recently received a 2012-2013 visiting scholar fellowship from The James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory University, and is a past recipient of a Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Pritchard focuses on the intersections between race, sexuality, gender and class with historical and contemporary literacy research. His book in progress titled Fashioning Lives: Black Queers and the Politics of Literacy, a grounded theory analysis of black LGBTQ literacy and rhetorical traditions based on original in-depth interviews with sixty black LGBTQ people living across the United States.]His other scholarly writings have appeared in journals and edited collection, including forthcoming articles in Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International, and Harvard Educational Review.

Dr. Pritchard was recently interviewed by Dr. Frank Guridy, director of the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at University of Texas at Austin, You can view the text of this interview here. Dr. Pritchard received his MA in Afro-American Studies at UW-Madison in 2004 and his PhD in English at UW-Madison in 2008.


Professor Plummer

Gayle Plummer  named as WARF professorship appointee

Chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies, Gayle Plummer, is among eight faculty members named to WARF professorships.  This appointment includes $75.000 in research support during five years. Professor Plummer is Merze Tate Professor of History.  She studies race and international affairs and modern African American and Caribbean history — especially Haiti.

2012 Degrees Awarded

Dawson, Rosalind
Completion Date: 5/7/2012
Chair: Craig Werner
Thesis  title:  “Rethinking Claire de Duras's Ourika” 
Extra, Naomi
Completion Date: 5/11/2012
Chair: Craig Werner
Thesis  title:  “The Healing by Gayl Jones: A Post-Soul Exploration of Music, Love and Healing”
 Gourrier, Francis
Completion Date: 5/4/2012
Chair: Christina Greene
Thesis  title:  "Shifting Focus, Shaping the Movement: Rubie Bond, the Women's Community Club, and Early Stages of the Civil Rights Movement in Beloit, Wisconsin"


Faculty and Staff Awards:

Professor Brenda Gayle Plummer - Merze Tate Professor of
History by WARF

Evjue-Bascom Professor Freida High W. Tesfagiorgis -
Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award – 2011

Professor Craig Werner - Honored Instructor - by the Office of
Academic Initiatives

Ms. Dolores Liamba - 2011 - 2012 Classified Employee
Recognition Award


Former Graduate receives Susie Pryor Award

Congratulations to John Adams (M.A. ’03) who received the Susie Pryor Award by the Arkansas Women’s History Institute. The Susie Pryor Award in Arkansas Women’s History offers an annual prize of $1,000 for the best unpublished essay on topics in Arkansas women’s history. Manuscripts are reviewed on their contributions to knowledge of women in Arkansas history, use of primary and secondary materials, creative interpretation, originality, and stylistic excellence.


2012 Lorraine Hansberry Symposium

Conversations on African American Youth and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

sims ed al

Patrick Sims facilitating a panel during the March 3, 2012 symposium on August Wilson's play, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," in the Mitchell Theater. From Left to right:Patrick Sims, Rev .Dr. Alex Gee, Jerome Dillard, Rev. Rick Jones, and Robert Agnew. (Photo by Jonathan Gramling)


Kouadio Germain N'Guessan's Book Published

Kouadio N'Guessan

The Department often hosts international scholars under the Fulbright Program. Professor Kouadio Germain N'Guessan was here in 2010 during which he completed work on his book, titled "The Dynamics of Politics and Didacticism in Frances E. W. Harper's Writing." This photo is of him back home in the Ivory Coast, holding a copy of his book. Congratulations, Kouadio!


August Wilson: The Legacy and his Challenges

Anthony Hill -Professor Emeritus of Theater Ohio State University - will speak
Saturday, March 3,2012 at 2:00 p.m. at Mitchell Theatre in Vilas Communications Hall
Sponsored, in part by The Department of Afro-American Studies


The Department of Afro-American Studies joins in sponsoring the lecture by Dr. Lowery Sims of the Museum of Arts & Design in NYC

sims poster

The Global Africa Project, organized in 2010 by the Museum of Arts & Design focused on aspects of design and art by individuals working in Africa, Europe, Asia, the United States and the Caribbean. The exhibition challenged presumptions of what constitutes an “African” style or aesthetic by focusing on the inherently migratory nature of identity as it plays out in contemporary society. In addition the exhibition examined the rapid and pervasive interchange in contemporary practice and sought out the rich pool of new talent that is emerging from the African continent and from Africans working across the globe. This lecture will examine the curatorial process involved in conceptualizing and realizing a project that included over 100 creators from over 40 countries. By including work by designers, craftsmen and artists working both in traditional or contemporary modes the exhibition challenged the usual distinction made between “professional” and “artisan” in the art market. It also highlighted the economic and social issues navigated by these artists as they negotiate their careers both “in-country” and outside mainstream center and on in the global arena, and illuminate how these creators are able to engage the contemporary art market in inventive and provocative ways.


Professor Freida High W. Tesfagiorgis among artists showing in Compendium 2012: Art Department Faculty Exhibition currently showing at the Chazen.

High Painting

February 4 to April 1, 2012
Rowland Galleries, Garfield Gallery, Mayer Gallery

About every four years, the museum hosts an exhibition of current work by the UW–Madison Art Department faculty, affiliates, and emeriti. Compendium 2012 represents the breadth and scope of contemporary art today and highlights the diversity of this dynamic faculty. Work by 34 current faculty, staff, and affiliates, as well as 12 emeritus faculty, showcases the vibrant talent and history of the department.

Spring Course Offerings

Critical Perspectives on Black Women’s Writing
Spring, 2012/Sandra Adell, Professor
5:30-8:10 pm, Room 4208 Helen C. White Hall


In 1982 the Feminist Press published what has become a founding text for Black Women’s Studies. It has a long title, but that title speaks volumes about the struggles black women have had to endure, both personally and professionally, to gain visibility and to have their voices heard above the academic clamor that, until the 1980s, was decidedly masculine.  Edited by Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith, All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Braves, is something of a manifesto for Black feminism and a primer on teaching about the experiences of Black Women in the United States. We will start by reading selected essays from the collection. We then will read fiction, poetry and drama by black women writers who have helped to pave the way for what by the mid-1990s became something of a publishing boom for black women, much of it precipitated by the growth and development of black women’s studies as an academic discipline. We will end with a reflection on what is happening with the publishing industry today in light of the ever growing popularity of what is called Urban Fiction.


This course meets once a week. You are therefore expected to attend all sessions. Miss more than one class and you risk having your final grade dropped. In addition to two short written assignments, you each will be required to give an oral presentation on a critical essay about one of the writers we are studying and write final research paper. You will be given more information about the final project and other assignments during the first week of class.

Books for this course are available at A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN FEMINIST BOOKSTORE (307 W. Johnson Street, 608.257.7888). I also will assigned critical essays about some of these authors and their work.

Brooks, Gwendolyn.    Selected poems (course handouts)
Childress, Alice                       Selected Plays
Clarke, Cheryl             After Mecca: Women Poets and the Black Arts Movement
Giovanni Nikki.           Selected poems (course handouts)
Hansberry, Lorraine     A Raisin in the Sun
Hull, Gloria,         But Some of us Are Brave
Jones, Gayle                The Healing
Morrison, Toni             The Bluest Eye
Nunez, Elizabeth         Boundaries
Petry, Anne                  The Street
Shange, Ntozake          For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.
Wall, Cheryl                Changing Our Own Words


AAS 672 Selected Topics:Afro-American Literature: Narratives of Black Embodiment

In this class we will consider how black authors narrate the particularities of existence with a focus on the effects of their particular incarnations. How do writers frame characters' relationships with their own bodies? Does Du Bois's concept of double-consciousness resonate to the same degree that it did when he developed it?  Does it matter whether mistaken identity takes the form of being confused for a particular person or being or being confused for a type? Is passing a phenomenon that has evolved? Do racial differences take precedence over other identity markers? In this seminar we will consider these questions and more across several genres. Students should expect to participate fully. The course includes presentations and papers. Experience writing about literature is necessary. (Taught by Professor Tracy Curtis)


D. Nebi Hilliard to Speak November 9, 2011 ~ 5:00 p.m.


Divas to the Dancefloor: Black Masculinities in the 21st Century
At the Multicultural Student Center in the Red Gym

Rhodessa Jones to Visit UW November 16 and 17, 2011.


Rhodessa Jones is an internationally acclaimed actor, writer, singer and Co-Artistic Director of the San Francisco-based performance company, Cultural Odyssey.  She is also the founder and director of the “Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women.”  She has worked with incarcerated women in the United States, Russia and South Africa over the past twenty years, bringing them an opportunity to discover, through theater, new ways of engaging with themselves and others that might help them as they re-enter the world outside and set new goals for themselves and their families.  Rhodessa Jones was the first artist-in-residence at the Naturena Female prison in Johannesburg, South Africa, She will discuss her work with The Medea Project and the documentary on incarcerated women and theater she is writing and co-producing with her long-time collaborator, Idris Ackamoor, which is titled “From San Francisco to Soweto.”

2011 Degrees Awarded

Black, Anthony
Completion Date: 8/30/2011
Chair: Craig Werner
Thesis  title:  “Our Dark-Skinned Beloved Will Take Us In.” Triadic Patterns of Masculine Bonding in Ralph Ellison’s Three Days Before the Shooting and Leslie Fiedler’s “Come Back to the Raft Agi’n, Huck Honey” 

Essame, Jeanne
Completion Date: 8/26/2011
Chair: Gayle Plummer
Thesis  title:  Haiti, Everything You Want It To Be: The Creation of Cultural Authenticities (1940-1970)

Garris, Tiffany
Completion Date: 8/24/2011
Chair: Freida High W. Tesfagiorgis
Thesis  title:  Intersectionalaty and Feminist Visual Analysis: Decoding the Historical Representation of the Myth of the Black Matriarch in History, Visual Culture, and its Subliminal Image in the Character, Mrs. Huxtable, in The Cosby Show (1984)

Evanco, Kevin
Completion Date: 5/13/2011
Chair: Craig Werner
Thesis  title: Children of Azusa: Alexandra Gee and the Spiritual Mantle of C.H. Mason and William J. Seymour


Sharunda Owens

Afro-American Studies Graduate receives grant

Sharunda Owens, (B.A. ’08) was awarded a full tuition fellowship as the first ever Quarles & Brady Fellow at UW Law School. The firm will offer her professional development and mentorship as well.






Film: Off and Running: An American Coming of Age Story

Avery, an African American teenager and the adopted daughter of two Jewish lesbian moms in Brooklyn, goes on a journey to uncover her roots.

Thursday, March 31, 2011 ~ 6:00 P.M.
Psychology 107, Brogedn Psychology
Link: Off and Running

Contact: 265-8250,


Dr O    


Dr. Ogbechie is Associate Professor of Classical, Modern, and Contemporary and  African Diaspora  Arts; Visual Culture, and Knowledge Systems Theory, Department  of Art and Architecture, University of California-Santa Barbara  He is author of Ben  Enwonwu: The Making of an African Modernist, 2008 (Winner of the Melville Herskovits Award, 2009); Founder  and Director of Aachron Knowledge Systems-Aachron Editions and Critical Interventions,  a Journal of African Art Theory and Criticism

Public Lecture:    "Who Owns Africa's Art? Museums,  Knowledge Work and the Economics of Cultural Patrimony"

Thursday, March 3, 2011, 5:00 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art, Room L140

Graduate Student Workshop: "The Curator as Culture Broker"

Friday, March 4, 2011, 10:00-12:00 noon, Chazen Museum of Art, Room L170

This visit is sponsored by the Center for Visual Cultures- funded by the  University of Wisconsin Lectures Committee and the African Studies Program.

Lead organizer - Evjue-Bascom Professor Freida High W. Tesfagiorgis, Department  of Afro-American Studies and Gender & Women's Studies, Department of  Art Affiliate; Co-sponsors - the African Studies Program, Department of Afro-American Studies (in  celebration of its 40th Anniversary), Department of Art History, African Diaspora and Atlantic World Research  Circle, Art Department, Visual Cultures Student Focus Group, African Students Association, and  Art History GradForum. Also, presented in conjunction with Illuminate: Year of the Arts.

The Center for Visual Cultures Announcement/Details:

Lecture:   " Who Owns Africa’s Art? Museums, Knowledge Work and  the Economics of Cultural

"This lecture evaluates how strategies of art collection and display  enable the conversion of African cultural objects into discursive and fungible artworks.  It analyzes how museums, art institutions, and the  discourse of art history produce and organize information  about African art, and investigates the politics of representation that affect the value of African art  and cultural knowledge in the global economy. It also investigates the meaning of the canon of African art  as it is represented in private collections and contemporary museum settings. Its objective is to  interrogate how African art is incorporated into Western knowledge systems and structures of display by  analyzing the relationship between African artworks in their contemporary locations (museums,  private collections, the art historical construction of meanings), and the history of their origins as part of  communities of objects, whose use in religious, ritual, economic and social contexts formed part of the

knowledge systems of particular African peoples. In this regard, the  appropriation of African cultural objects for Western museums and collections participate  in the active transfer of equity from African producers of these artworks to their Western collectors.  I therefore examine the current rising demands by Africans and other formerly colonized peoples for  repatriation of historically pedigreed artworks currently housed in Western collections. I suggest that  the struggle for repatriation of these artworks is partly an effort to secure greater access to and share of  the economic value of African cultura and how will they affect our understanding of African art  currently located in Western museum?"

Graduate Workshop: "The Curator As Culture Broker"

"The seminar investigates the increasing disjunction between curatorial  representations of contemporary African arts in which the work of  contemporary artists based in the west is taken to stand in for Africa in contrast to the realities of production  and representation of contemporary art on the African continent itself. The location of contemporary  African art confronts a central problem of cultural practice in the era of globalization: what is the value  of Africa as a site of globalization, as a place with its own history of development of specific visual languages  and strategies of visual representation? Our premise is that the curatorial regime of prominent  curators of contemporary African art, such as Okwui Enwezor and Simon Njami can be faulted for legitimizing a  notion of Africa that dispenses with the continent itself as a historical theater of contemporary  art and visual culture engagements. We will investigate the emergent notion of the curator as “Culture Broker “ and the impact of their newfound prominence on the discourse of art history and cultural patrimony."

Reading Materials

1. Kwame Anthony Appiah, “Whose Culture Is It?” in James Cuno, ed. Whose  Culture? The Promise of
Museums and the Debate over Antiquities. Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2009: 71-86.
2. Andrew McClellan, “Cosmocharlatanism”. Oxford Art Journal, 32/1, 2009:  167-171.
3. Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie, “The Curator as Culture Broker: A Critique of  the Curatorial Regime of
Okwui Enwezor in the Discourse of Contemporary African  Art”. Aachronym.
4.  John Henry Merryman, ed. Imperialism, Art and Restitution. Cambridge: Cambridge  University Press
2006: 114-174



The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Afro-American Studies and the Campus Women's Center are proud to present Ntozake Shange's play, FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO'VE CONSIDERED SUICIDE WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF.When this award-winning play was produced on Broadway in 1975, it marked only the second time a play by an African American woman was produced on the Great White Way.

The play will be performed at 7:00 pm on Saturday, December 11, and Sunday, December 12 in the H'Doubler performance space in Lathrop Hall, 1050 University Avenue. This event is FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

For more information call or e-mail Sandra Adell, Professor, Department of Afro-American Studies University of Wisconsin-Madison, 608.334.0147 (



Unbound: African-American Artists' Books & Illustrated Children's Books

November 5 - December 31, 2010

This exhibition is presented by the Department of Afro-American Studies in commemoration of its 40th anniversary and as a celebration of the 2010-11 Year of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Unbound is an exhibition of African-American artists' books and children's books selected from the Kohler Art Library collection. The artists' books are organized into four categories: Ancestry, Biography, Memory/Trauma, and Resistance--to situate the voices of the artists in imagined locations from which they address the reader. The children's books, similarly, capture memory and imagination, overlapping and expanding these fluid themes on aspects of life. Though the books vary in texts, images, processes, shapes, materials, aesthetics, and modes of communiation, they represent the agency of the artist in a metaphorical practice of becoming unbound.

Exhibit opening reception: November 5, 5:30-7:30pm.

Additional talks at the Kohler Art Library:
Graduate student, Doria Johnson (Dept. of History), Nov. 10, 4-5pm
Book artist, Pleschette Robinson, Racine, WI, Nov. 17, 4-5pm
Children's Book Artist/Animator, Odalo (Wasikworks Studios), Madison, WI, Dec. 6, 4-5pm
Graduate student, Janine Sytsma (Dept. of Art History), Dec. 15, 4-5pm

Curated by Ph.D. students Doria Johnson and Janine Sytsma, based on a project initiated in the seminar "Beyond Primitivism: African and African-American Art in Museums," (Fall 2010), under the auspices of Professor Freida High W. Tesfagiorgis.

Art Flowers Command Performance

Art Flowers, Vietnam Vet, Novelist, Poet and Professor of English, Syracuse University is giving a volunteer, command performance in Henel C. White Hall, SLIS Commons (Room 4207) Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 4:30 p.m.  This performance is in conjunction with the 3 day symposium:  ...Next stop is Vietnam: the War on Record, 1961 - 2008.

…Next Stop Is Vietnam: The War on Record, 1961–2008
3–Day Symposium — November 18–20, 2010

In summer 2010, Bear Family Records released “…Next Stop Is Vietnam: The War on Record, 1961–2008,” a 13 disc, 300+ song collection of music about the Vietnam War. Including songs from all genres and political viewpoints, this set is the definitive audio document of the Vietnam War. A review by calls it, “An entire college course masquerading as a boxed set…that look[s] at the Vietnam conflict’s impact on American society.”
In honor of this landmark achievement, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and other community partners will host a 3–day symposium November 18–20 to focus on the critical role that music played during the Vietnam era. All of the events are FREE and open to the public.
Presented in partnership by the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Integrated Liberal Studies Program, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Wisconsin Public Television, and the Monona Terrace and Convention Center. This event is part of the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.



Annie Crangle, (B.A. ’10) was awarded Teach for America Post.  Starting this fall, Annie will teach in Twin Cities, bringing new energy and leadership to the challenge of closing the academic achievement gap for students in low-income communities. In a year where admission was more competitive than ever before, with an acceptance rate of 12 percent, Annie was selected from a record 46,000 individuals who applied to Teach For America and will join nearly 4,500 new corps members teaching in 39 regions across the country.

Charles Hughes, (M.A. ’03) was awarded CIC/Smithsonian Institution Fellowship. Fellowships are offered by the Smithsonian Institution to provide opportunities for graduate students, predoctoral students, and postdoctoral and senior investigators to conduct research in association with members of the Smithsonian professional research staff, and to utilize the resources of the Institution. These fellowships are offered through the Smithsonian's Office of Fellowships, Under this fellowship program, the Smithsonian Institution and the Fellow’s university share the cost of support

Katherine Mellen Charron, (M.A. ’97) Ph. D. in U.S. History, Yale University, 2005 Freedom’s teacher : the life of Septima  Clark (UNC Press, 2009) just won the Julia Cherry Spruill Award for  best book in Southern women's history from the Southern Association of Women Historians.

Brenna Greer, (M.A. ’04)and Holly Y. McGee (M.A.’04) have won the prestigious Erskine Peters Dissertation Fellowship at the University of Notre Dame. Brenna and Holly are the first UW students to receive the fellowship and collectively, they received two of the three awards! Congratulations!
"The Erskine A. Peters Dissertation Year Fellowship at the University of Notre Dame, established in 1999, honors the life and academic achievements of one of the University's most distinguished and beloved professors, Dr. Erskine A. Peters (1948-1998). Dr. Peters taught English at the University and also became legendary for his commitment to scholarship, community service, and graduate education in the College of Arts and Letters.

William Sturkey, (M.A. ’07) winner of the 2010 Danky Fellowship competition, is a PhD candidate in History at Ohio State University where he studies modern African American History with a focus on the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement.  William’s research concentrates on the famous 1964 Freedom Summer campaign. His project, tentatively titled, “Just Give Us a Light,” is an extension of his Master’s thesis, which won the 2008 Glover Moore Prize from the Mississippi Historical Society. This dissertation will examine the Freedom Schools that were designed to supplement the inferior education previously available to black Mississippi youths.