Faculty Lecture Series Begins with Rashida Braggs

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., February 1, 2018—Rashida Braggs, associate professor of Africana studies and faculty affiliate in comparative literature and American studies, will present the first lecture in the 2018 Williams College Faculty Lecture Series on Thursday, Feb. 8. The talk will take place at 4:15 p.m. in Wege Auditorium and will be followed by a reception in Schow Atrium. It is free and open to the public.

Braggs’ talk is titled “Diasporic Research through Embodied Performance.” In the talk, she will explore a topic addressed in her book, Jazz Diasporas: Race, Music and Migration in Post-

WWII Paris (2016), and which continues to influence her current research: “Can one perform diaspora and the multiple subjectivities it produces?” In her book, she investigates African American jazz saxophonist Sidney Bechet’s performances of subjectivity and agency in his diasporic journey.

Attempting to stretch past the bounds of written scholarship, in 2016 Braggs created a solo performance for Africana Studies 317: African American Performance at Home and Abroad in order to extend her explorations of the above question. In “Me and Monsieur Bechet,” she improvised gesture and vocal expression in her attempts to embody Bechet’s forced and propelled diasporic experiences. In her lecture, she will discuss performance experimentations individually and with students that fueled her investigation of the diasporic experiences of Sidney Bechet.

With her background in humanities (Stanford Postdoctoral Fellow), performance studies (Ph.D. Northwestern University), mass communications (M.S. Boston University), and theater studies and English (B.A. Yale University), Braggs consistently introduces a performative lens to African diasporic cultural expressions, from jazz to literature to advertising. In such courses as 13 Ways of Looking at Jazz and Black Migrations: African American Performance at Home and Abroad, she teaches students to explore how performance conveys values, patterns and negotiations of power in society. In addition to her book, her work has also been published in such journals as Nottingham French Studies, The Journal of Popular Music and The James Baldwin Review.

The Faculty Lecture Series will continue on Feb. 15 with geosciences professor Mea Cook, who will present “Carbon Dioxide and Ice Age Cycles.”

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