This talk examines the problem of iconic blues women who’ve been “lost” to history, Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas, as well as the critics who’ve loved and chased after them. By placing the politics of queer archival studies and black performance theory in conversation with canonical blues historiographies, the talk will explore the aesthetics and cultural resonances of Wiley and Thomas’s rare recordings. It aims as well to trace a black feminist counter-history of record collecting and listening publics in order to tell a different story of blues lives that mattered.
Daphne A. Brooks is a professor in the departments of African American Studies and Theatre Studies at Yale. She earned her Ph.D. in English at UCLA. She is the author of two books: Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 (Durham, NC: Duke UP), winner of The Errol Hill Award for Outstanding Scholarship on African American Performance from ASTR and Jeff Buckley’s Grace (New York: Continuum, 2005). Brooks is currently working on a new book entitled Subterranean Blues: Black Women Sound Modernity (Harvard University Press, forthcoming). She has authored numerous articles on race, gender, performance and popular music culture such as “Sister, Can You Line It Out?: Zora Neale Hurston & the Sound of Angular Black Womanhood” in Amerikastudien/American Studies, “‘Puzzling the Intervals’: Blind Tom and the Poetics of the Sonic Slave Narrative” in The Oxford Handbook of the African American Slave Narrative, “Nina Simone’s Triple Play” in Callaloo and “‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’: Surrogation & Black Female Soul Singing in the Age of Catastrophe” in Meridians. Brooks is also the author of the liner notes for The Complete Tammi Terrell (Universal A&R, 2010) and Take a Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia (Sony, 2011), each of which has won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for outstanding music writing. She is the editor of The Great Escapes: The Narratives of William Wells Brown, Henry Box Brown, and William Craft (New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2007) and The Performing Arts volume of The Black Experience in the Western Hemisphere Series, eds. Howard Dodson and Colin Palmer (New York: Pro-Quest Information & Learning, 2006).
Organized by: UCLA Department of Musicology and the UCLA Center for the Study of Women
This event is part of CSW’s Feminism + The Senses Speaker Series and CSW’s Gender Research and Equity Committee initiative, with support from the Office of Interdisciplinary & Cross Campus Affairs.
Cosponsored by: Charles E. Young Research Library; Robin Kelley, Gary B. Nash Chair in History; and the Department of African American Studies.