Author Archives: carriehintz

“Currents of the Black Atlantic” conference

“Currents of the Black Atlantic”
13-14 March 2014, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Opening Keynote: David Scott, Columbia University

Closing Keynote: Sibylle Fischer, New York University

CFP deadline: Abstracts of 300 words or less electronically to by 31 December 2013.

Two decades since its publication, Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic (1993) united conversations about race, place, diaspora, and slavery within the Atlantic world. This interdisciplinary conference takes as its point of departure Gilroy’s ethos of looking outside of and challenging established categories (such as those determined by nationalist modes of thought). In the spirit of thinking both with and beyond the Black Atlantic paradigm this conference seeks to create a space for scholars to negotiate its theoretical limits while gesturing towards alternative frames and futures for the Black Atlantic. This interdisciplinary conference revisits the roots and routes, the genealogies and the futures, of The Black Atlantic.

This conference invites critical and methodological conversations among students and faculty who have been theorizing ways that rethink diaspora, transatlantic cultures, race, historiographies, and notions of “modernity.” This conference aims to bring together scholars across disciplines and bridge conversations that will shift the grounds, directions, and temporalities of the Black Atlantic.

Potential topics may include, but are not limited to:

Memory, Subjectivity, and the Black Diaspora
Remapping the Spatiotemporalities of the Black Atlantic
Early Modern Atlantic Crossings and Early Transatlantic Exchanges
Engenderings and Queerings of the Black Atlantic
Sounds and Music of the Middle Passage
Transatlantic Affective Economies
Black Atlantic Matter(s): Things and Objects of the Middle Passage
Ethics, Archives, and Historiographies of the Black Atlantic
The Black Pacific; Intersections of Race and Labor
Latin American and/or Caribbean Studies and the Black Atlantic

This is the annual conference of the English Student Association at the CUNY Graduate Center. Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words, along with a 3-5 line bio, contact information, and a/v requests to Additionally, feel free to submit abstracts as a fully formed panels and/or roundtables. We also welcome suggestions for non-traditional conference presentations. The deadline for abstracts and other proposals is December 31st, 2013. Participants will be notified by the end of January.

For more information, visit the conference website:



September 20, 2013: 4:00 PM at the Elebash Recital Hall, CUNY GRADUATE CENTER

Before Globalization?

This event brings together prominent scholars of colonialism, race, and religion to discuss whether or not it is possible to speak of globalization in the pre-modern era. We anticipate a lively debate that will cross period boundaries and that will address how the expansion of travel, trade, imperialism, and cultural exchange between 1600-1800 contributed to the process of globalization. Panelists: Leela Gandhi, University of Chicago; Suvir Kaul, University of Pennsylvania; Ania Loomba, University of Pennsylvania; and Feisal Mohamed, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Moderated by Kim Hall, Barnard College.



Chapter Five: “Flesh”

Roach’s chapter on “flesh” begins with Westminster Abbey’s wax effigies.  Charisma and stigmata still emanate from the effigy of Charles II, “exuding the most intense of the contradictory qualities that reliably excite the fascination of It: vulnerability in strength, profanity in sanctity, and intimacy in public” (175).  Here “It” is framed into slightly more of a formula than in other sections (“reliably excite…”).  Later in the chapter, in contrast, Roach will invoke various chance elements in the formation of It, folding in the social dynamics and circumstances that combine unexpectedly to make “It” possible.   This chapter circles around the reproducibility of It, seen again through Pepys as a modern figure, a “self-fashioning parvenu,” who emulated his sovereign by having a cast of himself made up (175).     


A book that has been so passionately concerned with mimetic desire turns to “Pygmalionism, the affliction that makes creators fall in love with the images they themselves have forged” (176).  The success of “It” is “charmed exponentially by the number of its copies” (177). Performers and agents are beginning to do in the eighteenth-century what will become commonplace in our time–Roach uses language like “pioneering” or “presaging” modern experience.


(In a fascinating moment, Roach refers to the “wormhole” in Pepys diary that “opens up uncannily in the 1660s and drops the reader off, as Elinor Glyn rightly intuited, at the movies in the 1920s” (176).  I liked and was heartily dazzled by “wormholes” here . . . any thoughts on this?)


But I digress!  The It effect depends on another strong juxtaposition, quite a fleshly one.  The sacred icon is “fashioned from the detritus of the quotidian, the abject, and the profane” (180).  Thus the Pygmalion story possesses a deep-seated ambivalence, very much at work in Cinderella/ Galatea/ Eliza’s ascent from utensil to ornament.   Roach is also careful to stress that “charisma is an expression of shared needs . . . neither always reducible to, not ever separable from, the real or imaginary flesh of the prodigy” (187).   


So how much of the It effect is created by being in the right place at the right time?  As Roach notes, “there must be social as well as individual chemistry here, a volatile mixture of common needs catalyzed by special opportunities” (184).  More than just the It person is in play, especially to create “It-Zones” like Covent Garden, or Hollywood–both the “worshipped and the sacrificed” are necessary.  Roach’s reading of Pygmalion, which which he ends the chapter, is quite wonderful, and sheds much light on the wider meanings of performance: “By turning untutored vitality into refined inutility before our very eyes, the action of Pygmalion recapitulates the transformative act of performance itself.  As synthetic experience, performance furnishes forth the products that imagination wrests from the raw material of inchoate possibility’ (192).  There, in a nutshell, is one of the great concerns of the book. This chapter shows the dual nature of fleshly transformation, the combination of charisma and stigmata that marks the modern attainment of the It effect.


Above all, this chapter impressed me with its remarks about the selective nature of It (“while many are called, few are chosen,” 183).  Roach lauds the efforts of performance historians to look at a wider group of performers and those who made performances possible in a variety of venues, hitherto unnoticed and unsung–but poignantly acknowledges that the It effect tends to dominate even the most historically attuned academic studies of performance.