Simon Gikandi in Residence with GW English as Wang Distinguished Professor

Professor Simon Gikandi

Simon Gikandi’s 2011
Slavery and the Culture of Taste

From October 26-31, GW’s English Department is pleased to host Professor Simon Gikandi as this year’s Wang Distinguished Professor-in-Residence.  Simon Gikandi is Robert Schirmer Professor of English at Princeton University and editor of PMLA, the official journal of the Modern Languages Association (MLA).

He is the author of many books and articles including Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature and Maps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism. His latest book, Slavery and the Culture of Taste (Princeton University Press, Spring 2011) was co-winner of the James Russell Lowell Prize for an outstanding scholarly work by a member of the MLA and the Melville Herskovits Award awarded by the African Studies Association for the most important scholarly work in African studies. The book won the 14th Annual Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship sponsored by Melbern Glasscock Center for Humanities Research, Texas A&M University, and was a Choice Outstanding Academic Book for 2012.

Professor Gikandi is editor

This visiting residency was created through a gift by Albert Wang and his family that has, since 2009, supported professors such as Edward P. Jones (now a member of the GW English Department), José Esteban Muñoz, J. Jack Halberstam, and Michael Bérubé.  The gift from the Wang family is one of the largest philanthropic commitments to GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of English.

Gikandi Residency Schedule of Events (events are free and open to the public)

Monday, October 27, 3:30-6 PM, Rome Hall 771:

Seminar for Students and Faculty with Simon Gikandi.  Readings for this event are available, although seating is limited.  Please RSVP to Robert McRuer at to be placed on the list for this seminar.

Tuesday, October 28, 5:30 PM, Marvin Center 301:

GW Distinguished Lecture in Literary and Cultural Studies: “Archives without Subjects.”

Caught in the middle of the so-called crisis in the humanities, literary scholarship has sought to justify its projects by making an archival turn. This turn to the archive has been conceived as a way of reclaiming cultural authority by energizing the politics of reading at what appears to be its diminishing point. The lecture takes off from a famous statement by Jacques Derrida in Archive Fever: “Can one imagine an archive without foundation, without substrate, without substance, without subjectile?” But it asks a different set of questions: What happens when reading comes face to face with an archive without subjects—the void in which the enslaved, the subalterns, the untouchable, and the voiceless dwell? How do we go about reading texts that notate linguistic prohibition and cultural interdiction? What happens when we work in textual sites defined by silence?

This year’s Distinguished Lecture in Literary and Cultural Studies is co-sponsored by Africana Studies.

Thursday, October 30, 2:15-3:15 PM, Rome Hall 771:

Seminar for Undergraduate Students with Simon Gikandi. All undergraduate students are welcome at this event, although seating is limited.  Please RSVP to Robert McRuer at to be placed on the list for this seminar.

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