September 13, 2021 – 7 PM Evening Lecture with Zakiyyah Iman Jackson

Associate Professor of English
Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
University of Southern California

“Black Light: On the Origin and Materiality of Blackness”

Aesthesis is a political matter, such that black folk have often sought to challenge a mode of representation that mythologizes blackness as mere absence or lack. There is artmaking that seeks to transfigure both the void blackness is thought to represent and a known world whose “facts” depend on a fiction of black vacancy. These are works that, in the words of curator, Adrienne Edwards, “are philosophically charged, culturally compounded abstractions” and figurations “that point to discourse beyond medium and art movements,” alternately affirming nothing or attuning to the indeterminacy and incalculability of blackness, whether blackness be attributed to person, place, or thing. This is not to suggest that double-consciousness and its deposits can be easily uprooted, but rather that perception and its organization are meaningful and necessarily remain a ground of contestation. This talk concerns the reflective and refractive potentialities of blackness as well as its density or fullness that exceed the capture of mimetic representation. It highlights works that critically explore the received terms and limits of representation in the interest of the dissolution of given categories and conceptual forms. Focusing particular attention on Faith Ringgold’s Black Light and American People series, this talk explores blackness as varied, multi-dimensional, and a light source in its own right.

Professor Jackson is the author of Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World.

This event is co-hosted by the Bryn Mawr College Africana Studies Program and the Haverford College Visual Studies Program.

7:00 pm (via zoom).

Register here.


February 23, 2021 – Special Lecture & Teach-In: Gystere

Deciphering Strange Breathin’: Sci-Fi and Comics as Decolonial Weapons

A conversation with GYSTERE, Musician, Director, Cartoonist, Intergalactic Keytar Hero

Presented by the Film Studies Program, the Department of French and Francophone Studies, and The Center for Visual Culture

Tuesday 2/23/21
12:30 PM

Register in advance for this meeting with this link.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

May 5, 2021 – Special Lecture: An Evening with Boots Riley

American film director, producer, screenwriter, rapper, and activist. He is the lead vocalist of The Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club. He made his feature-film directorial debut with Sorry to Bother You (released July 2018), which he also wrote.
7:00 PM Eastern Time
This event is co-sponsored by the Bryn Mawr College Film Studies Program, the Swarthmore College Department of Film & Media Studies, and the Haverford College Visual Studies program.
Register in advance for this meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

September 22, 2020 – A Special Evening Lecture with Dr. Frank B. Wilderson, III

Professor and Chair of African American Studies
Core faculty member of the Culture & Theory Ph.D. Program at UC Irvine
American writer, dramatist, filmmaker and critic

Cinematic Slavery: the Longue Durée of Social Death

The antagonism between Blacks and Humans lurks beneath the surface of 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013). But in Manderlay (Lars von Trier, 2005) this antagonism avoids the pitfalls of disavowal that all too often characterize the signifying strategies of 12 Years a Slave and, by extension, public debates around race. At the core of this civic and cinematic disavowal, is the failure of discourse to remain in the hold of the ship; manifest in an inability or unwillingness to grapple with the difference between gratuitous violence, which elaborates and positions Black people, and contingent violence, which disciplines non-Black subalterns once those subalterns have been elaborated and positioned by discourse (the symbolic order).


Suggested background films:

12 Years a Slave is available here.

Manderlay is available here.

Frank B. Wilderson, III is professor and chair of African American Studies, and a core faculty member of the Culture & Theory Ph.D. Program at UC Irvine; and an award-winning writer whose books include Afropessimism (Liveright/W.W. Norton 2020); Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid (Duke University Press 2015); and Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms (Duke University Press 2010). He spent five and a half years in South Africa, where he was one of two Americans to hold elected office in the African National Congress during the apartheid era. He also was a cadre in the underground. His literary awards include The American Book Award; The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award for Creative Nonfiction; The Maya Angelou Award for Best Fiction Portraying the Black Experience in America; and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship. Wilderson was educated at Dartmouth College (A.B Government and Philosophy), Columbia University (MFA/Fiction Writing), and UC Berkeley (PhD/Rhetoric).

October 5, 2020 – A Special Evening Lecture with Leigh Raiford

Associate Professor
Department of African American Studies
University of California, Berkeley

“‘Burning All Illusion‘: Abstraction, Black Life, and the Unmaking of White Supremacy”
What are the ethics of seeing and viewing Black death in our contemporary moment? When does visual representation of Black death become spectacle and when does it serve efforts towards justice?  Many artists and movements for social justice have attempted simultaneously to assert Black humanity and to critique white supremacy through the figural, or thorough visualizing the vaunted yet contested category of “the human.” But perhaps the way to commemorate the dead and move towards a more just vision is through the genre of abstraction. In this talk, I focus on the assemblage work of Samuel Levi Jones and the video work of data artist Josh Begley who each create art in memoriam to victims of police brutality that turn viewers’ attention away from Black bodies and the burdens of representation those bodies are made to bear. Instead, Begley and Jones redirect us toward the systems of power that produce Blackness as fungible commodity and Black life as expendable. Through different though “classic” forms of abstraction—Jones’ employment of the grid and Begley’s use of the map, specifically the technology of Google maps—each artist challenges the ways we are disciplined to “see like a state.”

7-8:30 PM

Please register here.

* Unless otherwise specified, this lecture will be recorded.

April 18, 2019 – Thelma Thomas

The Bryn Mawr College Friends of the Library and the Center for Visual Culture

Lessons in Cloth from Late Antique Egypt: Worn, Embodied, and Remembered

Thelma Thomas
Associate Professor of Fine Arts
The Institute of Fine Arts
New York University

Thursday, April 18, 2019
Carpenter B-21
4:30 PM
Reception following lecture in Canaday 205

Support provided by the Friends of the Bryn Mawr College Library, LITS and its department of Special Collections, the Center for Visual Culture, the Program in Middle Eastern Studies, Jefferson University, 360° Program

In conjunction with the exhibition
Byzantine Textiles from Late
Antiquity to the Present
April 18-June 2, 2019
Canaday Library, Lobby and Special Collections Suite
Park Science Center, Science Crossroads

October 10, 2018 – Domietta Torlasco at Slought

Slought is pleased to announce “An island, a ship, a prison”, a conversation and installation of video works by Domietta Torlasco on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 from 6-8pm. The event will begin with the screening of House Arrest (2015) and Sunken Gardens (2016), two videos that engage themes such as migrancy, borders, surveillance, and debt, followed by conversation with Homay King, Professor in the Department of History of Art at Bryn Mawr College. In conjunction with this event, Torlasco’s work will also be continuously screened in the Slought Mediatheque from October 10-31, 2018. This program is co-presented with the Bryn Mawr College Program in Film Studies.

For more info visit:

4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Homay King
Chair, Professor, and Eugenia Chase Guild Chair in the Humanities
Department of History of Art, Bryn Mawr College

Camera Obscura editorial collective

February 8, 2017 – Homay King

President Kim Cassidy cordially invites you to a lecture by:

Homay King
Eugenia Chase Guild Chair in the Humanities and Professor of History of Art

“A Tale of Four Butterflies:  Early Madame Butterfly Film Adaptations”

Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Thomas 224
4:30 p.m.

 Reception to follow in the London Room.