NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will welcome Dr. Kimberly Juanita Brown, author and the chair of gender studies/associate professor of English and Africana studies at Mount Holyoke College, to campus at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, in Murdock Hall, Room 218, as the inaugural installment of an annual lecture series presented by the College’s Honors Program.

Free and open to the public, Dr. Brown’s lecture is titled "Of Thee I Sing: Black Performances of a Possible Freedom.” She will examine the vexed relationship African Americans have with the American flag and the national anthem, and the circuits of national identity located there. Her talk will be a combination of examining black engagements with the American flag, through the relationship of the visual and sonic performances of the Star-Spangled Banner (Whitney Houston and Marvin Gaye, in particular). A Q&A session will follow her lecture.

“We're thrilled that Dr. Brown will offer the first guest lecture in this new series sponsored by our Honors Program,” said Dr. Zack Finch, MCLA associate professor of English/communications and director of the college’s Honors Program. “We’ve conceived the series as a way to bring to campus scholars doing the kinds of research—intersectional, interdisciplinary— that we celebrate in our Honors Program curriculum. Dr. Brown is such a passionate and creative scholar, we know she'll spur our students to stretch their thinking about the politics of contemporary culture and the histories that inform us all.  We're also delighted that, as part of Dr. Brown's visit to MCLA, she will be leading a group of students on a trip to MASS MoCA, where they'll be able to talk with her about what they're seeing there.”

Dr.  Brown’s research engages the site of the visual as a way to negotiate the parameters of race, gender, and belonging. Her book, “The Repeating Body: Slavery’s Visual Resonance in the Contemporary” (Duke University Press) examines slavery’s profound ocular construction through the presence and absence of seeing in relation to the plantation space. Brown is the founder and convener of The Dark Room: Race and Visual Culture Studies Seminar. The Dark Room is a working group of scholars who are invested in examining the intersection of critical race theory and visual culture studies.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth’s public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

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