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Fall 2023 Schoff Memorial Lecture Series | III
November 27 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
The Abundant In Between Time
III: To Be a Part of the Future: The Quiet Quest of Sylvia Ardyn Boone
Monday, November 27, 2023, 8 pm
Farah Jasmine Griffin
The William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American and African Diaspora Studies, Columbia University
Drawing upon Maya Angelou’s memoirs, The Heart of a Woman (1981) and All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), these lectures identify a few of her friends, singer, composer, Abbey Lincoln, novelist, Paule Marshall and art historian, ethnographer, Sylvia Ardyn Boone, major artists and intellectuals in their own right, who help us flesh out an understudied period in African American (particularly Black Women’s) intellectual and cultural history. From the late fifties and early sixties this group of Black women came to call New York home and like those before them began to create identities and a body of work shaped by their political and aesthetic sensibilities. More Pan-Africanist than Diasporic, not yet and possibly never, Black feminist, they nonetheless saw themselves as modern, global black women still bound by, but in search of new understandings of gender and sexuality. By the end of the period under consideration in the early 1970s, each of them would find themselves outside of the United States, in Black majority countries, creating works that are deserving of our continued attention and appreciation.
Farah Jasmine Griffin is the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American and African Diaspora Studies. Professor Griffin received her B.A. from Harvard and her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale. She is the author or editor of eight books including Who Set You Flowin?: The African American Migration Narrative (Oxford, 1995), If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday (Free Press, 2001), Clawing at the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane and the Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever (with Salim Washington, Thomas Dunne Press, 2008), and Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II (Basic Books, 2013). In 2021 W.W. Norton published the critically acclaimed Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature. And her most recent In Search of a Beautiful Freedom: New and Selected Essays, was published in March 2023. Griffin has been a Cullman Center Scholar, a Guggenheim Fellow, and Mellon Foundation Fellow in Residence.