POSTPONED - Williams College Hosts Noted Scholar to Speak on Black Female Intimacy at the Turn of the 20th Century

This event will be rescheduled for a later date. We apologize for any inconvenience.

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

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., March 2, 2020—Saidiya Hartman, 2019 MacArthur Fellow and professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, will read and discuss excerpts from her new book, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, at Williams College. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held on Tuesday, March 10, from 4:15 to 6 p.m. in Griffin Hall, room 3.

In Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (W. W. Norton & Company, 2019), Hartman examines the revolution of black intimate life that unfolded in Philadelphia and New York at the turn of the 20th century. In grappling with the question of what it meant to live a free life, Hartman writes that many young black women created forms of intimacy and kinship indifferent to the dictates of respectability and outside the boundaries of law. They cleaved to and cast off lovers, exchanged sex to subsist in their daily lives, and revised the meaning of marriage. Longing and desire fueled these experiments in living their free lives. Refusing to labor like enslaved people or to accept dehumanizing work conditions, these women—for the first time—are credited with shaping the then-nascent cultural movement that transformed the urban landscape. By melding history and literary imagination, Hartman recovers these women’s radical aspirations and insurgent desires.

Hartman received a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. from Yale University. She was a professor in the English and African American studies departments at the University of California, Berkeley, before she joined the faculty at Columbia University, where she is a professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature and the former director of the Institute for Research on Gender and Sexuality.

She has been distinguished as a Whitney Oates Fellow at Princeton University, a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library, and a Critical Inquiry Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago. In addition to her books, she has published articles in The New Yorker and journals such as South Atlantic Quarterly, Brick, Small Axe, Callaloo, and The Paris Review.

This event is sponsored by the Department of English, the Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and the W. Ford Schumann ’50 Program in Democratic Studies.


For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Communications 413-597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at