Saidiya Hartman’s Schedule
Tuesday, April 4
Wednesday, April 5
Thursday, April 6
Scholar of African American Literature and Cultural History
April 4–7, 2023
Saidiya Hartman is a professor at Columbia University whose work explores the afterlife of slavery in modern American society. Her academic career has been devoted to exploring the stories of those left nameless and with little documented history. Through her meticulous research and narratives, she bears witness to lives, traumas, and fleeting moments of beauty that historical archives have omitted or obscured, and in so doing, affords readers a proximity to the past that would otherwise be inaccessible.
Saidiya Hartman is the author of Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, and Scenes of Subjection. A MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, she has been a Guggenheim Fellow, Cullman Fellow, and Fulbright Scholar. She has published articles in journals such as South Atlantic Quarterly, Brick, Small Axe, Callaloo, The New Yorker, and The Paris Review.
Hartman’s most recent book, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (2019), winner of the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, immerses readers in the interior lives of young Black women who fled the South and moved to Northern cities in the early twentieth century, and in the process created a form of intimacy and kinship indifferent to the dictates of respectability. Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (2007), combines elements of historiography and memoir in a meditation on her travels to Ghana in search of a deeper understanding of the experience of enslavement. With this work, Hartman defies the conventions of academic scholarship and employs a speculative method of writing history, which she terms “critical fabulation,” to interrogate the authority of historical archives as the singular source of credible information about the past. Hartman’s first book, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America (1997; reissued in 2022 in a revised and updated 25th-anniversary edition), offers a critical assessment of the violence and domination that remains encrypted even in advocacy-oriented abolitionist rhetoric.
(Photo credit Rivkah Gevinson)