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"Riddles of the Sphinx: Kara Walker and the Possibilty of Black Female Masochism"


The UCLA Center for the Study of Women presents the series "New Directions in Black Feminist Studies." Amber Jamilla Musser's lecture will speak to how we can understand black female masochism--the willful and desired submission to another.


 

New Directions in Black Feminist Studies: Amber Jamilla Musser

 

This talk asks how we can understand black female masochism--the willful and desired submission to another. Masochism is a difficult subject to broach, but black female masochism is even more so because it threatens to produce subjects who embrace myriad systems of historical and cultural forms of objectification. Further, black female masochism is difficult to theorize because masochism as a concept requires an understanding of agency, which has been elusive for black women to claim. Through a reading of some of Kara Walker's work, this talk looks at how we have traditionally understood black female sexuality and female sexual passivity to think about the ways that discourses of race and sexuality converge and diverge.

Amber Jamilla Musser is Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. She received her PhD in History of Science in 2009 from Harvard University. Her research interests include queer of color critique, theories of embodiment, and sexuality studies. She has published or forthcoming articles in Social Text, differences, WSQ, GLQ, and Women and Performance. Her book, Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism, was recently published by NYU Press.


Published: Wednesday, February 25, 2015