Student Name: Eunice Toh
Field: English & African American and Diaspora Studies
Dissertation Director(s): Drs. Shirley Moody-Turner and Sean X. Goudie
In this dissertation, I consider how a terrestrial-oriented directionality might offer us an epistemological framework for thinking about the cosmological dimensions of Black ecologies. Black Cosmo-cologies: Rebirth and Renaissance in the Long Nineteenth Century argues that the politics and aesthetics of Black ecologies in literary narratives illustrate alternate cosmologies of being and ways of knowing in this world. I hope to show how Black ecology limns or haunts questions of liberation, world-making, and humanism in the writings of “American” authors. For instance, what are the alternative ontologies that might emerge when scholars imagine historical processes and modes, such as the afterlife of slavery, in a similar way to how one considers organic processes like germination or weathering? In line with crucial theoretical work from related fields of environmental humanities, Black print culture, critical race studies, and science studies, this dissertation looks to Black cosmo-(e)cologies to unsettle conventional periodization, foundations, and boundaries of the long nineteenth century.
Student Name: Ashley Lamarre
Field: Philosophy and African American and Diaspora Studies
Dissertation Director(s): Kathryn Sophia Belle and Robert Bernasconi
My dissertation is titled How do Images Hurt? Oppressive Representations and Black Feminist Redress. Two central questions drive her dissertation: what is the social efficacy of harmful representations, and what responses to these images hold the potential to disrupt their normative and naturalizing power? In response, Ashley brings together Black feminists’ intersectional accounts of oppressive representations, such as social theorist Patricia Hill Collins’ account of controlling images and philosopher Frantz Fanon’s account of cultural imposition. In this dissertation, Ashley argues that critical engagements with oppressive representations are not periphery but jointly necessary for all movements concerned with the liberation of oppressed peoples. She brings together Fanon and Black feminists’ accounts not only to form a robust intersectional account of oppressive representations as a phenomenon but also to identify responses that hold the potential to disrupt the oppressive norms they bring about. In discussing the mechanism of oppressive representations, it will be necessary to discuss extensively the nature of harm associated with this phenomenon to emphasize why the ongoing presence of these images still requires critical engagement.