American Literature Research Seminar

alrs mt2020

Michaelmas term 2020

Seminars will be held at 10.30am or 5.30pm (see below) on Zoom on the following Thursdays. To receive Zoom links and circulated readings, please join the ALRS mailing list by sending a blank email to: alrs-subscribe [at]

Contemporary African American Poetry Reading Group I
10.30am, 22 Oct: This is the first of two sessions that will focus on contemporary African American poetry in preparation for the seminar with Professor Evie Shockley in Week 6.


  • Harryette Mullen’s ‘African Signs and Spirit Writing’ (1996)—on SOLO
  • Natasha Tretheway’s Thrall (2012), pp. 16-36 and 59-70.
  • Meta D. Jones, ‘Reframing Exposure: Natasha Trethewey’s Forms of Enclosure,’ ELH 82.2 (2015): 407-29—on SOLO

Contemporary African American Poetry Reading Group II
10.30am, 5 Nov: The second session on contemporary African American poetry, with an emphasis on the intersection of text and image.


  • Selections from Robin Coste Lewis, ‘Voyage of the Sable Venus’ in Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems (2015), especially pp. 33-43 and 94-109.
  • Julie Patton, ‘play’ (2001) in Tripwire: a journal of poetics
  • Nicole Fleetwood, Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness (2011), pp. 1-32, 105-25—on SOLO

Evie Shockley, Rutgers
5.30pm, 19 Nov: ‘Black Graphics: “Colorblindness” and the Survival of Black Being’
A discussion of pre-circulated reading drawn from Professor Shockley’s work in progress.

Additional recommended reading:

  • Tylias Moss, Slave Moth (2004)
  • Anthony Reed, ‘Establishing Synchronisms: Sycorax Video Style and the Plural Instant,’ Freedom Time: The Poetics and Politics of Black Experimental Writing (especially pp. 59-82).

Lindsay V. Reckson, Haverford College
5.30pm, 3 Dec: Book discussion: Realist Ecstasy: Religion, Race, and Performance in American Literature (NYU Press, 2020) – please note changed time.

A discussion of pre-circulated selections of Lindsay Reckson’s new book, held in collaboration with the University of Manchester. Realist Ecstasy explores the intersection and history of American literary realism and the performance of racial and spiritual embodiment: