Annual Lectures and Speakers

Inaugural GW Arts & Humanities Series: #Resist! Envisioning Justice Together

Thanks to the generosity of the provost’s and CCAS dean’s offices, American Studies co-hosted the inaugural GW Arts and Humanities seminar series, titled “#Resist! Envisioning Justice Together.” Organized around four seminars (two in the fall, two in the spring), this lecture series brings together humanities scholars at the forefront of thinking about social justice in the contemporary era.

The series kicked off in September with a lecture from Professor Moustafa Bayoumi, on Islamophobia. Bayoumi’s lecture addressed what it means to exist at the crossroads of Muslim faith and American life. Bayoumi is the author of the critically acclaimed How Does it Feel To Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America(Penguin), which won an American Book Award and the Arab American Book Award for non-fiction.

In the second seminar of the series, Luis Diaz, MC for the Puerto Rican underground hip-hop group Intifada, focused on Black/Latinx Politics of Freedom. Diaz, a historian, teacher and long-time activist for Puerto Rican independence, performed his music—grounded in the African Diasporic roots of hip-hop. With his performance of 10 original pieces, the Intifada member discussed topics from race and wealth to bureaucrats and genocide. Afterwards, he addressed the audience with a question and answer session on the current political state in Puerto Rico, the role of revolutionary groups there, and the need to create art in any space regardless of who listens.


Black Sexualities Symposium April 2016

On April 5, 2016, the American Studies Department hosted a day-long symposium on Black Sexualities.  Six visiting scholars -- Vanessa Agard-Jones (Yale), Sarah Jane Cervenak (UNC-Greensboro), Nadia Ellis (Berkeley), Uri McMillan (UCLA), Amber Musser (Washington University), and Emily Owens (Brown) -- presented their new scholarship on topics ranging from Grace Jones to the sexual politics of pesticide in Martinique, from black women's sexual labor in 19th century New Orleans to the idea of liquidity as a new analytic in the study of black sexuality.  The day concluded with a conversation among all of the scholars about the field of black sexualities.  The scholars discussed - and theorized - the convergence of scholarly interest in black pleasures and scholarly interest in black death, perishment, and nothingness; the place of sex in black sexuality studies; and the usefulness of "older" analytics like respectability and disrespectability in "newer" work on black erotics.


Julie Sze presents Spring 2015 lecture: Environmental Justice in the Anthropocene 

On April 20, the American Studies hosted a talk by Professor Julie Sze of the University of California, Davis. Sze spoke on “Environmental Justice in the Anthropocene.” She described her ongoing research on Kivalina, Alaska, a town 80 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Due to the effects of climate change, Kivalina is expected to be underwater by 2025. 

Read more


Collected Stories and Twice-Told Tales 2015

This spring, the department’s graduate students spearheaded the annual Collected Stories and Twice-Told Tales conference. It was an intellectually exciting day-long event which included presentations by undergraduates, MA students, and PhD students, as well as commentary by faculty. Every year, GW’s graduate students organize the Collected Stories and Twice-Told Tales conference which brings together students and faculty to present, listen and debate. The conference includes undergraduate, master’s and PhD students from our department and others. 

Read more


Robin Bernstein Delivers Collected Stories 2015 Address: Resistance, Not Psychological Damage

At this year's Collected Stories Conference, Dr. Robin Bernstein (Harvard University) delivered the address, "Resistance, Not Psychological Damage: Re-Evaluating the Clark Doll Tests," a reinterpretation of the famous experiments that found that racism had created psychological damage in black children. Bernstein's captivating lecture focused on the Clark Doll tests, a series of experiments performed in the mid-20th century by psychologists Dr. Kenneth Clark and Dr. Mamie Clark.

Read more