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C. Riley Snorton Gives Audre Lorde/Essex Hemphill Memorial Lecture at CUNY

Venue:  The CUNY Graduate Center, Room 9206.

Free and open to the public. See official site.

Description: In this lecture, C. Riley Snorton will interrogate the absent presence of Phillip DeVine from the public memory of the Humboldt killings and the national narration of Brandon Teena, as a transgender martyr. While rarely mentioned at all, DeVine's ascription as "wrong place, wrong time," a rhetorical maneuver that situates DeVine's presence in the Brandon archive by evacuating his place within, and as a necessary consequence of, the archive's construction, is instructive for Snorton's reading of the symptomatically disavowed coarticulations of antiblackness and anti-trans violence, as it engenders a way to perceive how the mechanisms that contribute to Brandon Teena's symbolic significance to trans historiography simultaneously posit DeVine's figuration as always and already untimely, assigned to a conversation perpetually deferred. Making use of biomythography and following Sylvia Wynter's work, this talk ponders on what aspects of DeVine's figuration, as a matter of sociogenesis, constitute a usable history for more livable black and trans lives? Snorton contends that to presence DeVine - to invent his/a life - then is to approach phenomenologically the interstitialities of black and trans life and black and trans death, particularly as it bears upon the current conjuncture of black trans life and spectacularized black trans deaths and their routes of public circulation in Transgender Days of Remembrance/Resistance and as they has given rise to the #TransLivesMatters and #BlackTransLivesMatters movements.

Speaker: C. Riley Snorton is an assistant professor in Africana studies and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies at Cornell University. He received his PhD at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and has received fellowships from Harvard University and Pomona College. Snorton's research and teaching expertise include cultural theory, queer and transgender theory, Africana studies, performance studies, and popular culture. He has published articles in the International Journal of Communication, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, and Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, and has contributed to several edited collections. Snorton's first book, Nobody Is Supposed to Know: Black Sexuality on the Down Low (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), traces the emergence and circulation of the down low in news and popular culture. He has also been listed as one of "Ten Transgender People You Should Know" by BET.