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2019 Distinguished Visiting Humanist, Hazel V. Carby

Thursday, January 31–Saturday, February 2, 2019



From January 31 to February 2, renowned black feminist and cultural critic Hazel Carby will be at the University of Rochester as the 2019 Distinguished Visiting Humanist. Events range from discussions of her forthcoming "auto-history" Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands and the state of black studies now to a public lecture about her Jamaican father in the 1930s and a conversation with artist Isaac Julien. Join us for this exciting opportunity to learn from one of the most important scholars of race, gender, and culture in our time.

January 31st - February 2nd 2019

Questions about the event can be directed to both Joel Burges ( and Madeline Ullrich ( by email.

Schedule of Events

DAY 1: Thursday, January 31, 2019

9:30-11:00: From Kingston to Bristol and Back Again: In the Imperial Archives with Hazel Carby (Plutzik Room/Special Collections) 

RSVP required to both Joel Burges ( and Madeline Ullrich ( to secure a place at the event and obtain the reading for it.

Led by Pablo M. Sierra Silva (History) and Miranda Mims (Special Collections), this session will explore a series of questions based on selections both the discussants and participants will have read in advance from Professor Carby’s forthcoming book Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands (Verso 2019): How does one do archival research on the culture, politics, and history of race, gender, and empire? What is at stake in doing so? What stories emerge? And how do those stakes and stories differ—and perhaps even conflict—depending on one’s intellectual position? In what ways does the archive work differently for the cultural studies scholar, the historian, and the archivist? 

4:30-6:30: Black Studies Now: A Roundtable with Hazel Carby (Humanities Center Room D) Open to the public.

What is the state of black studies at the University of Rochester—and in the world? What shape should black studies take at UR? What does it mean to study race and racial formations at this point in political and intellectual history—and to do so in Rochester? Central to making African and African American Studies a world-renowned department at Yale University, Professor Carby will discuss these questions with UR faculty and the audience.

Led by Jeffrey Tucker (English), with William Bridges (Japanese; Modern Languages and Cultures), Cory Hunter (Frederick Douglass Institute; Music), Cilas Kemedjio (French; Modern Languages and Cultures; Director of the Frederick Douglass Institute), Kathryn Mariner (Anthropology; Visual and Cultural Studies), Darren Mueller (Eastman; Musicology), and Matthew Omelsky (English).

DAY 2: Friday, February 1, 2019

4:00-6:00: Public Lecture: “Difficult Times” (Hawkins Carlson Room) Open to the public.

This lecture is drawn from Professor Carby’s forthcoming book, Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands (Verso 2019). It describes her father’s coming of age in the tumultuous years of the 1930s in Jamaica. Professor Carby will be introduced by President Richard Feldman (Philosophy) and JoelBurges (English; Visual and Cultural Studies).

DAY 3: Saturday, February 2, 2019

2:00-3:30: “Lessons of the Hour”: A Public Discussion between Hazel Carby and Isaac Julien (Memorial Art Gallery) 

Open to the public.

Led by Rachel Haidu (Art and Art History; Visual and Cultural Studies) and Jason Middleton (English; Visual and Cultural Studies), this event will turn to the relationship between artists and intellectuals by focusing on the new work “Lessons of the Hour.” “Lessons of the Hour” is a multi-screen film and video installation by the pioneering media artist Isaac Julien. The work is freely inspired by the life of Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), the visionary African American abolitionist and freed slave, and by issues of social justice that shape so much of global history. “Lessons of the Hour” is the second in the Memorial Art Gallery’s “Reflections on Place” ( series of media art commissions informed by the history, culture, and politics of the City of Rochester, New York. This event is partially supported by the Memorial Art Gallery and the Grant Holcomb Endowment.


Hazel V. Carby is the Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies, Professor of American Studies, and Director of the Initiative on Race, Gender, and Globalization at Yale University. She is one of the most influential scholars of culture and cultural politics of the past forty years. A major force in bringing cultural studies—especially as it descends from her extremely important teacher, Stuart Hall—to the United States, she has shaped generations of scholars through her writing and teaching. Recipient of the Jay B. Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Achievement in American Literary Studies from the Modern Language Association, she is the author of four books. In 1987, Carby published Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist (Oxford University Press), which charts the rise of black woman intellectuals in the 19th and 20th centuries along with “the forms in which [they] made political as well as literary interventions in the social formations in which they lived.” This was followed in 1998 by Race Men (Harvard University Press), which interrogates the cultural politics of black masculinity in the 20th century. A collection of essays, Cultures in Babylon: Black Britain and African America (Verso), came out in 1999; it includes writing on, among other topics, blues, gender, and migration, and race, multiculturalism, and the academy. Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands will be published by Verso in 2019. In it, Carby explores the vexed history connecting Great Britain and Jamaica through not only the story of her Welsh mother and Jamaican father, but also extensive research in the national archives of both countries related to the deep roots—and extensive routes—of that story. A powerful speaker, Carby is unflinchingly committed to confronting issues of race, gender, sexuality, and class, including those that the University of Rochester currently faces as a major site of research and education located in a city with its own richly complicated history around these issues.