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About the event

Join us for "The Object Seminar: Breaking Boundaries" led by Jasmine Claude-Narcisse, entitled "On the Black Body as Traded Object" from 5pm to 7pm, followed by a reception event from 7pm to 8pm. The seminar is free and open to the public, but to attend, please RSVP here. This event takes place in The Object Library, located on the ground floor of the Mina Rees Library in the Graduate Center, CUNY.

On the Black Body as Traded Object

Invented, serialized, othered, anthropologized, weighed, folklorized, fragmented, beautified, fantasized, scattered, uniformized, Negritude-ized … such is the black body/object as it appears through the merciless media inventory conducted by Jean-Claude Charles in “Le corps noir” (1980). Charles’s analysis conjures a double object: a Black being and a being Black in a permanent state of construction and irremediable deconstruction, as this book gives little or no quarter in its desperate search. The text itself is also an object-text, at once undefined and tortured, in which an incisive poetics and multiple illustrations of and references to the most unexpected of “objects” bear witness to the blinding effects of encounters between Charles’s own body and a “Black body.” This text is also a project: to convey the malaise and disequilibrium generated by Charles’s rejection and refusal of the essentializing or objetisation of this (his) dehumanized black body that is being exchanged and traded at will.

Fleeing the Duvalier regime, Jean-Claude Charles (1949-2008) established himself in Paris in the 1970s after wandering through Mexico and the United States (Chicago and New York). A screenwriter, director, journalist, radio producer, and a poet praised by Marguerite Duras as “without doubt a true, great novelist,” he described himself as an “homme de nulle part,” a man from nowhere, and coined the concept of enracinerrance.

About The Object Seminar: Breaking Boundaries

What happens when we incorporate the non-human material world into academic conversations? As part of the Object Library's ongoing inquiry into routes to knowledge beyond traditional methods and existing discourses, this series of seminars co-presented with Henri Peyre French Institute invites the public to join us in study once again, taking material culture as our point of departure. With topics ranging across new areas of research, each presenter is encouraged to bring-a-thing-along or propose an object that might sit in creative tension with the seminar discussion. All are welcome, but a commitment to attend is necessary, as is reading in advance any materials supplied. The final event, held in the Object Library, will lodge seminar-related objects—both suggested by seminar attendees in response to our conversations or brought along to the final session—into our temporary installation, 365 Things. The Henri Peyre French Institute is proud to organize this seminar series in conjunction with the Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY and its Object Library project. The Henri Peyre French Institute is dedicated to promoting a broad, transdisciplinary, and transnational understanding of major cultural issues across French and Francophone studies through public programs concerning the arts, history, society and politics. This current seminar series seeks to showcase work in these areas that breaks disciplinary boundaries, asks new questions, and alters current paradigms.

All events take place at the Graduate Center, CUNY from 5-7PM.

March 8: Frédéric Baitinger, room 9207
March 22: Raphaël Liogier, room 9207
May 3: Nathalie Etoke, French Lounge
May 8: Stephanie Grace Petinos, room 9206
May 10: Jasmine Narcisse, Object Library, followed by special event

For more information about this seminar series, click here.

Jasmine Claude-Narcisse is a member of the Henri Peyre French Institute Board of Directors. She completed a doctorate in French at the Graduate Center, CUNY (2018) with a thesis entitled “Rhétorique du soi dans la littérature haïtienne francophone du XXe siècle: Manques et Manquements?” Her research encompasses the rhetoric of the self in French and Francophone literature, Francophone Caribbean autobiography, and recalibrating the contours of Francophone literature. Among her publications, Mémoire de Femmes (1997), in collaboration with Pierre-Richard Narcisse, an account of interviews, research and oral histories of and on Haitian women in history, remains a work of reference in the field. For over twelve years, she led the Haitian Book Centre and the annual Haitian Book Day in New York. She has spearheaded the Henri Peyre French Institute’s continuous programming on Haiti, including the Haiti Rencontres series in 2012, curating its three-day conference Impunity, Responsibility and Citizenship – HAITI, in March 2016. As a professional educator in the field of second-language acquisition and French/Francophone literatures, she was a full-time visiting instructor at CUNY’s York College and Queensborough Community College and has taught at multiple campuses of CUNY, developing the Creole Language Program at York. She now works in secondary education. She is actively involved in the work of the collective Jean-Claude Charles which aims to revisit and promote this groundbreaking Haitian author through conferences, symposia and publications of a critical apparatus of his oeuvre.

The Object Seminar: Breaking Boundaries series is co-organized and sponsored by the Henri Peyre French Institute, and The Object Library from the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY.