Apr 08
6191 Helen C. White
4:00 PM A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

Brent Hayes Edwards

Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University
More Ways to Do the Charleston: Music, Diaspora, and the Mood of Distance

This talk focuses on the career and music of Ada "Bricktop" Smith, a singer and nightclub owner who was one of the most prominent African American expatriates in interwar Paris. Specifically it's concerned with what it means to think about Bricktop's legacy both as a nightclub hostess (who might be said to have shaped a certain type of diasporic space) and as a singer who (unlike, say, Josephine Baker) never released a commercial album.

Brent Hayes Edwards is author of The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (Harvard UP, 2003), which was awarded the John Hope Franklin Prize of the American Studies Association, the Gilbert Chinard prize of the Society for French Historical Studies, and runner-up for the James Russell Lowell Prize of the Modern Language Association. With Robert G. O'Meally and Farah Jasmine Griffin, he co-edited the collection Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies (Columbia UP, 2004). He has published essays and articles on topics including African American literature, Francophone literature, theories of the African diaspora, black radical intellectuals, cultural politics in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, surrealism, 20th-century poetics, and jazz. His translations include essays, poems, and fiction by authors including Edouard Glissant, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, Sony Labou Tansi, and Monchoachi. He is co-editor of the journal Social Text, and serves on the editorial boards of Transition and Callaloo. He is currently working on two book projects: a study of the interplay between jazz and literature in African American culture; and a cultural history of the jazz scene in New York in the 1970s.

Sponsored by the A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship Program of the Center for the Humanities and Institute for Research in the Humanities. Co-sponsored by the Department of English.

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