Past Features

March 9, 2009 (Vol. 9, No. 4)

March 18 Lecture: 'Racial Ventriloquists: Elizabeth Bishop, Zora Neale Hurston, & Integrationist Blues'

Tyler Schmidt
Professor Tyler Schmidt
Professor Tyler Schmidt (English) will discuss "Racial Ventriloquists: Elizabeth Bishop, Zora Neale Hurston, and the Integrationist Blues," at the Women's Studies Program's next scheduled Spring Lecture series. The talk will take place on Wednesday, March 18, from 12:30-1:45 p.m. in Room 221 of Carman Hall.

Though seldom read in tandem, writers Elizabeth Bishop and Zora Neale Hurston both lived and wrote in Florida in the late 1940s, documenting the region's shifting attitudes about race and gender in the aftermath of WWII. Professor Schmidt will talk about the ways both women experimented with cross-race writing—texts of racial ventriloquism—in order to redirect their artistic identities and assert an integrationist politics.

The talk is part of Professor Schmidt's larger project, which explores how eight American writers, in the years between the Second World War and the Civil Rights Movement, documented and imagined racial integration in the United States, in particular how these artists wrote about interracial relationships, the changing role of women in society, and the increasing visibility of gays and lesbians in American culture.

"I am interested in how WWII continues to change the way many Americans think about race and sexuality," explains Professor Schmidt. "This talk centers on my long-held interest in cross-race writing, the aesthetic and political difficulties writers face when they elect to speak from a racial perspective that is not their own."

Professor Schmidt's areas of expertise include twentieth-century African American literature, twentieth-century American poetry, and race and sexuality studies. He is a specialist in African American literature, as well as composition and rhetoric. Professor Schmidt has taught at Bard College, The New School University, the Cooper Union, and Baruch College. His writing has been published in journals like Women's Studies Quarterly and African American Review.

For more information on this event, call 718-960-1160.