Tag Archives: Oxford University Press


Hazel V. Carby, author of Imperial Intimacies, and Priyamvada Gopal, author of Insurgent Empire, discuss the “media responses to Covid-19 and the kinds of discourse that are given a platform, appropriate forms of response, and the media more generally relating to who it is doing the writing—as well as looking towards what sorts of new theoretical frameworks we might employ to think about what has happened.”*

The authors will be joined by Annie Olaloku-Teriba. See link below for Verso Live registration information.



Thursday, August 20.

10:30 am on the West Coast; 1:30 pm East Coast; 6:30 pm in London; 7:30 in Paris.

Hazel Carby’s “Quarantine Reading”:

You ask me what I read in quarantine but I want to tell you about where I read. I read from a location of privilege, for it is a privilege to be in lockdown in an affluent Connecticut shoreline town. I am reminded of this every morning. I see the lives and deaths of those who find themselves designated “essential workers”—the poor black and brown residents of New York’s outer boroughs of Queens and the Bronx who maintain the city, its transportation systems, and its hospitals—who live precarious lives, who cannot afford to stay at home, who cannot afford to be sick, who are dying of coronavirus and being buried in mass graves. These lives are being “seen” now because newspapers like the New York Times have just discovered the inequities of structural racism and the struggles for existence of those the paper usually ignores as not worthy of being written about. Structural racism and poverty constitute normal life in the United States: they are the fundamental characteristics of the normative social order to which corporate elites and their allies, reading in lockdown, wish to return.

You ask me what I read but I avoid reading a lot of things. What I read also depends upon when I read. Dawn finds me in the kitchen curled up with tea and cats in a chair reading The Guardian on an iPad trying to avoid reading statistics of infection, hospitalization and death, accumulations of numbers which disguise the condition of life. I aim for The Guardian’s “Long Reads,” detailed investigative essays by thoughtful writers, for the sections on the environment and the amazing collections of photography from around the world.  In the mirror I read my face, adjusting my mask before I leave for the grocery store.  I try not to read the anxiety I see in the eyes that look back.

In the working part of my day I have been reading two books: Thomas Chatterton WilliamsUnlearning Race: Self-Portrait in Black and White, who imagines that “race” exists only in our minds. A generous reader could dismiss this as naïve, but generosity is not my reading of an author writing from an extremely privileged position in France who renders the racial formation in which he lives invisible by ignoring France’s colonial legacy and the present black and brown residents of the Parisian banlieues. In stark contrast, The Grassling, by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett, a writer of Kenyan and English heritage, is a gorgeous geological account of the Devon village in which she grew up. She reads the landscape from beneath as well as above its soil, rendering its flavors, sounds and smells in poetically intense prose.

In the evening I retreat into fiction trying to immerse myself in other, distant worlds. Hillary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light, is absorbing me with its conjuring of political intrigue, of the wrangling for power between men who lie without compunction, and for its spiteful, vengeful, narcissistic ruler—a world that is, perhaps, not so far from our own.

From top: Hazel V. Carby; Priyamvada Gopal, photograph courtesy and © the author and Cambridgeshire Live; Priyamvada Gopal, Insurgent Empire, 2020, image courtesy and © the author and Verso; Hazel V. Carby, Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist, 1987, image courtesy and © the author and Oxford University Press; Hilary Mantel, The Mirror and the Light, 2020, image courtesy and © the author and Henry Holt; Elizabeth-Jane Burnett, photograph by Graham Shackleton, image courtesy and © the author, the photographer, and The Guardian.


“If I were inventing a religion, I would try to work out some beautifully ritualistic mode of reciprocal confession and make all the conception of punishment and reward psychological and self-inflicted.” — Alain Locke, letter to Countee Cullen, 1923

The life and times of Alain Locke—philosopher, writer, editor, professor, the first African American Rhodes scholar, and “dean” of the Harlem Renaissance—have been told by Jeffrey C. Stewart in his new book THE NEW NEGROTHE LIFE OF ALAIN LOCKE.

“Unlike many of his colleagues and rivals in the black freedom struggle of the early 20th century, Locke, a trailblazer of the Harlem Renaissance, believed that art and the Great Migration, not political protest, were the keys to black progress. Black Americans would only forge a new and authentic sense of themselves, he argued, by pursuing artistic excellence and insisting on physical mobility.” — Michael P. Jeffries

This week, Stewart joins musician, poet, playwright, novelist, and essayist Carl Hancock Rux for a public discussion about “black genius, cultural pluralism, and the legacy of Locke and his pioneering ideas.”



Wednesday, February 28, at 7:30 pm.

Billy Wilder Theater, Hammer Museum

10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood, Los Angeles.

Above: Jeffrey C. Stewart and Catherine Czacki outside the Mansuy house in Giverny, France in 2015 during the Terra Summer Residency.

Below: Winold Reiss, Alain Locke. Image credit: National Portrait Gallery.