Even as we find ourselves physically isolated by a pandemic, we increasingly participate in reading/listening communities that are shaped by media and cultural artifacts that narrativize and mediate our contemporary moment, creating, for better or worse, spaces of affect for us to inhabit. Consequently, in an era when the illusion of the bourgeois liberal subject as independent, self-regulating and self-helping, has been exposed by national conversations about racism, we need to turn our attention to the complex phenomenon of collective cognition and affect. How do the communities we belong to and the narratives they create and consume shape how and what we feel? Join us as Dr. Sue J. Kim (U of Mass, Lowell) and Dr. aliyyah abdur-rahman (Brown) explore what cognitive narrative theory might teach us about the discourse around race and the role narrative can play in this critical historical moment.
Sue J. Kim is Professor of English and Co-Director of the Center for Asian American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where she is also Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the College of Fine Arts, Humanities, & Social Sciences. She is the author of On Anger: Race, Cognition, Narrative (2013), which brings cognitive studies and cultural studies into dialogue to argue that predominant individualistic conceptions of anger and emotion are insufficient to explain its collective, structural, and historical nature. She is coeditor (with Meghan M. Hammond) of Rethinking Empathy Through Literature (Routledge, 2014), and was guest editor for “Decolonizing Narrative Theory,” a special issue of the Journal of Narrative Theory (Fall 2012). Her essays have appeared in journals such as Modern Fiction Studies, Narrative, College Literature, and the Journal of Asian American Studies, and in collections such as Narrative Theory Unbound: Queer and Feminist Interventions, Postmodern Literature and Race, and The Business of Entertainment. She currently serves on the Executive Council of the International Society for the Study of Narrative, and she has served on the Association for Asian American Studies Board of Directors and the Modern Language Association’s Committee on the Literature of People of Color of the U.S. and Canada.
aliyyah i. abdur-rahman is Associate Professor of American Studies and English at Brown University. Her first book was Against the Closet: Black Political Longing and the Erotics of Race (Duke UP). She is a two-time winner of the Darwin T. Turner Award for Best Essay of the Year in African American Review and winner of the 2020 GLQ Caucus’s Crompton-Noll Best Essay of the Year Prize. She has been awarded fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the American Association of University Women, the Mellon Foundation, the W.E.B Du Bois Institute at Harvard University, and the JFK Institute at the Freie Universitaet, Berlin. Her scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming in African American Review, GLQ, The Black Scholar, ASAP/Journal, Faulkner Journal, American Literary History, The James Baldwin Review, among other scholarly journals and critical anthologies. She is currently completing her second book, Millennial Style: The Politics of Experiment in Contemporary African Diasporic Culture (forthcoming from Duke UP).