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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Winter 2018

HUM 521B/SPAN 596A/CMS 597A

Organizing Film Festivals as Public Scholarship

(5 credits)

Time Schedule

Instructor: Leigh Mercer (Spanish & Portuguese)

Meeting Dates

  • Tuesdays 2:30-5:20 pm

Denny 159

Faculty in area studies or literature and language departments are increasingly asked to organize film series, yet PhD and MA programs rarely prepare graduate students for such endeavors. Film festivals in particular offer scholars a unique opportunity to connect with broader audiences, and this course trains students in the critical implications of festival organization. Students will develop both practical curatorial experience and a greater historical understanding of the film festival as a phenomenon, while also examining what it means to translate their area studies expertise for new publics.

The cinema of the Hispanic world will be our case study. Students will study recent trends in Spanish and Latin American film, while also connecting with local and international experts in film programming, including people at the Guanajuato Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, the Seattle Latino Film Festival, the Cervantes Institute, and the Sitges Film Festival. Most importantly, students will work throughout the quarter in small curatorial groups to prepare a small-scale film festival for Latino high school students in Washington state, with all of the relevant accompanying documentation.

This HUM course is also listed as “Hispanic Film Programming and the Film Festival Phenomenon.”  It arises from Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics, a program of the Simpson Center for the Humanities that envisions new forms of public-facing and collaborative scholarship. Questions? Contact Leigh Mercer:

Leigh Mercer is Associate Professor of Spanish & Portuguese Studies and the author of Urbanism and Urbanity: The Spanish Bourgeois Novel and Contemporary Customs (1845-1925). She is working on a new book titled An Incoherent Voyage: Spanish Cinema Pioneers, Between Technophilia and Technophobia. She earned a PhD from Brown University in 2004.

HUM 596B

The Black Embodiments Studio

(2 credits, C/NC)

Time Schedule

Instructor: Kemi Adeyemi (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)

Meeting Dates

  • Friday, January 5, 3-5 pm
  • Friday, January 19, 3-5 pm
  • Friday, February 2, 10 am-12 pm
  • Friday, February 16, 10 am-12 pm
  • Thursday, March 8, 3-5 pm

Sessions meet in Communications 202

This microseminar is for graduate student “residents” of The Black Embodiments Studio, a critical arts writing incubator and public lecture series that queries how definitions of blackness are produced and expressed through visual, aural, and affective realms—engaging three domains that underwrite the physical and metaphysical dimensions of inhabiting skin marked as “black.” Residents will be immersed in models of writing on black embodiments since the 1970s that bridge academic and non-academic audiences, paying particular attention to the genre of exhibition catalogs and reviews. Residents will also develop and workshop at least one piece of short-form arts criticism (approx. 600-2,000 words) meant to be published in outlets such as Performa Magazine, Art Lies, Artforum and the journal of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Monday. The goal of these writings is to practice new methodologies, forms, and tones that will make your projects (and yourself) accessible to broad audiences.

Through the Studio, residents gain critical, intimate contact with artists, curators, and scholars whose work on black embodiments models the innovation, accessibility, and criticality that residents strive for in their own writing. One of the Winter Quarter guest residents is Sampada Aranke, whose book Death’s Futurity: The Visual Culture of Death in Black Radical Politics is forthcoming, and whose essays on the art of the Black Panther Party, Faith Ringgold, Sadie Barnette, David Hammons, and more have been commissioned by the Charlie James Gallery, the Tate Modern, e-Flux, and other entities.

Interested graduate students should submit a two-page letter of inquiry as a PDF to Kemi Adeyemi ( by 5 pm on December 22. This letter should detail the applicant’s critical practice, how thinking through black embodiments may be generative to it, and what they hope to gain from the studio. Ten residents will be notified of acceptance by January 1.

Kemi Adeyemi (Assistant Professor of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies) is working on a book manuscript, New Grounds: Black Queer Women’s Geographies of Neoliberalism, that explores the sonic, affective, and embodied methods black queer women have for taking pleasure in the neoliberal city. She is co-editing Queer Nightlife, a collection that documents the diverse expressions of queer nightlife worldwide. Her recent publications span academic and arts audiences and include an essay in QED: A Journal of GLBTQ Worldmaking and exhibition catalog essays for black is a color (Los Angeles), Impractical Weaving Suggestions (Madison), and Endless Flight (Chicago). She earned a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University in 2016.

HUM 597A

Critical University Studies: The Authoritarian Signatures of Public Education

(1 credit, C/NC)

Time Schedule

Instructor: Chandan Reddy (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)

Meeting Dates

  • Wednesday, January 17, 5:30-7:30 pm
  • Wednesday, January 24, 5:30-7:30 pm
  • Friday, January 26, 11:30 am-1:30 pm (with Christopher Newfield and Michael Meranze)
  • Wednesday, January 31, 5:30-7:30 pm

All sessions meet in Communications 202

This microseminar asks students to consider the meaning and practice of scholarship as universities become more racially and economically exclusionary than even a decade past. In this context, does “scholarship” at the Research-1 level function as an alibi for exclusion and minoritization? Does it disturb or augment the division of knowledge within the university that naturalizes racial and economic inequalities? How might we rethink and redeploy the term “scholarship” in ways that resist the reproduction of racial disparities and inequities across institutions of higher education? For example, how might scholarship, especially in the humanities, take into account its conditions of production, such as shifts in university revenues and budgetary priorities that grow graduate student debt, negate robust academic freedom, and casualize humanities education? Readings for the seminar will introduce students to the main concerns of critical university studies as well as to contemporary scholarship on the privatization of the public university. This seminar includes a session with Chris Newfield and Mike Meranze, who co-edit the blog Remaking the University.

Christopher Newfield is Professor of Literature and American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His most well-known area of research is critical university studies, a field of public scholarship he has helped to found and in which he joins his enduring concern with humanities teaching with a wide knowledge of how higher education continues to be re-shaped by industry and other economic forces. His books include The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them (2016) and Unmaking the Public University: The Forty Year Assault on the Middle Class (2008).

Michael Meranze is Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Laboratories of Virtue: Punishment, Revolution, and Authority in Philadelphia 1760-1835 (1996) and numerous essays on legal and intellectual history.

Chandan Reddy is Associate Professor of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies and the author of Freedom With Violence: Race, Sexuality, and the US State (2011). He teaches course on race, sexuality, colonialism, and US modernity. He’s written about the global city, racialized and gendered undocumented workers, and the legislation of sexual minority "rights" under international human rights standards.

For an add code to register, contact Annie Dwyer (, Assistant Program Director for Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics.