Page content


10.00am Welcome and Opening Remarks - Professor Mark Bevir, University of California, Berkeley.

10.15am Lawrie Balfour, University of Virginia
Taking Responsibility: The Political Arts of Toni Morrison’s Fiction.

11.00am Coffee

11.15am Simon Stow, College of William and Mary
The Hardest Working Man in Black Conservatism: James Brown as Political Thinker.

12.00pm Break

12.15pm Patrick James, University of Southern California
Spy Novels and International Relations

1.00pm Lunch

1.45pm James Martel, San Francisco State University
How Bad Literature can make for Good Politics: Walter Benjamin and the subversive power of the failed text.

2.30pm Break

2.45pm Xiaomei Chen, University of California, Davis
In the Name of the People: Television Dramas, Stage Plays, and the Propaganda Cultures in Contemporary China.

3.30pm Coffee

3.45pm Meg Wesling, University of California, San Diego.
The Labor of Gender: Producing Identity in the 20th Century

4.30pm Comments - Professor Mark Bevir, University of California, Berkeley.

4.45pm Discussion on going forward.

5.00pm Close

This event is supported by:

  • Blurring Genres Network: Recovering the Humanities for Political Science and Area Studies
  • Institute for Research in Social Sciences (IRiSS)

Speakers’ bios

Lawrie Balfour

Lawrie Balfour is Professor of Politics and American studies at University of Virginia. She is the author of Democracy’s Reconstruction: Thinking Politically with W. E. B. Du Bois and The Evidence of Things Not Said: James Baldwin and the Promise of American Democracy and numerous articles on race, gender, and democracy. She is working on two book projects: one on reparations as a democratic idea and another on freedom in Toni Morrison’s fiction and essays. Currently, she serves as editor of Political Theory.

Simon Stow

Simon Stow is an Associate Professor of Government at the College of William and Mary where he teaches classes in political theory. He works at the intersection of politics, literature, and popular culture, paying particular attention to issues of race in the United States. He is the author of American Mourning. Tragedy, Democracy, Resilience (Cambridge, 2017), Republic of Readers? The Literary Turn in Political Thought and Analysis (SUNY, 2007), and co-editor of A Political Companion to John Steinbeck (Kentucky, 2013). He is currently working on two projects, one about the role of Harper Lee’s work in shaping white America’s racial understandings; the other about race, popular music, and political thought.

Patrick James

Patrick James is Dornsife Dean’s Professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California and the author or editor of 27 books and 130 articles and book chapters. Among his honors and awards are the Louise Dyer Peace Fellowship from the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Thomas Enders Professorship in Canadian Studies at the University of Calgary, Senior Scholar award from the Canadian Embassy, Washington, DC, Eaton Lectureship at Queen’s University in Belfast, Quincy Wright Scholar Award from the International Studies Association (ISA) (Midwest), Eccles Professor of the British Library and Ole R. Holsti Distinguished Scholar of the ISA West. James served as President, 2007-09, of the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States, Vice-President, 2008-09, of the ISA, President of the International Council for Canadian Studies, 2011-13. He served a five-year term as Editor of International Studies Quarterly, is currently President of the Peace Science Society, 2016-17, and will serve as President of the ISA, 2018-19.

James Martel

James Martel teaches political theory in the Department of Political Science at San Francisco State University. He is the author of six books, most recently The Misinterpellated Subject (Duke University Press, 2017) and The One and Only Law: Walter Benjamin and the Second Commandment (University of Michigan Press, 2014). He is currently working on a new book entitled Unburied Bodies: the Subversive Power of the Corpse.

Xiaomei Chen

Xiaomei Chen teaches Chinese literature, theater, film and popular culture in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at UC Davis with a research focus on politics and theater in modern and contemporary China. She is the author Occidentalism: A Theory of Counter-Discourse in Post-Mao China (Oxford University Press, 1995; second and expanded edition, Rowman and Littlefield, 2002), Acting the Right Part: Political Theater and Popular Drama in Contemporary China (University of Hawai’i Press, 2002) and Staging Chinese Revolution: Theater, Film, and the Afterlives of Propaganda (Columbia University Press, 2016). She is the editor of Reading the Right Texts (University of Hawai’i Press, 2003) and Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Drama (Columbia University Press, 2010; abridged edition, 2013). She is also co-editor, with Claire Sponsler, of East of West: Cross-Cultural Performances and the Staging of Difference (Palgrave, 2000),” with Julia Andrew, of Visual Culture in Contemporary China (Ohio State University press, 2001), and with Steven Siyuan Liu, Hong Shen and the Modern Mediasphere in Republican-Era China. She has authored more than 50 journal articles and book chapters.

Meg Wesling

Meg Wesling is Associate Professor of US Literatures at University of California (UC) San Diego, and an affiliate of the Critical Gender Studies Program. She is past faculty director of UC Education Abroad Program in France (2013-2015). Professor Wesling’s monograph, Empire’s Proxy: American Literature and US Imperialism in the Philippines, was published by New York University Press in 2011. She is also the author of numerous essays on American literature, sexuality studies, and feminist theory, published in American Quarterly, MELUS, Mosaic, GLQ, American Literature, and Feminist Review, among others. Her current manuscript in progress, The Labor of Gender, develops a political economy of the production of gender.

Event info

This event has ended

Wednesday 6 September

201 Moses Hall, UC Berkeley campus

University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Susan Hodgett