University of Chicago cultural theorist C. Riley Snorton, Occidental College’s 2020 Stafford Ellison Wright Black Alumni Scholar-in-Residence, will deliver a public lecture, “In Search of Refuge: On Marronage and Migrancy.”
Snorton’s lecture will draw on his new book-length manuscript, tentatively entitled Mud: Ecologies of Racial Meaning. “In juxtaposing the narratives of Harriet Jacobs and Wu Ching Pong, he interrogates the procedures of fugitivity, defined here as the pursuit of ‘freedom from,’ without making recourse to the logic of periodization,” says James Ford, associate professor of English. “By tarrying in the mud, this paper asks questions about the swamp as a fecund site for thinking about the implications of thinking ecologically rather than historically about race in the Americas.”
A cultural theorist who analyzes representations of race and gender throughout history, Snorton is the author of two widely acclaimed books, Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity (University of Minnesota 2017), and Nobody Is Supposed to Know: Black Sexuality on the Down Low (University of Minnesota Press 2014). One reviewer called Nobody Is Supposed to Know “a stunning new chapter in queer theory,” while Black on Both Sides was the winner of multiple awards, including the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Nonfiction and a selection as an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book in Nonfiction.
“C. Riley Snorton's research has altered the fields of Black studies, Queer studies, and gender studies,” says Ford. “Occidental is fortunate to have Snorton share his cutting-edge scholarship with students, faculty, alumni, and the broader SoCal community.”
Widely in demand as a speaker, Snorton has been a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, an Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at Pomona College, and two fellowships at Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication with graduate certificates in Africana studies and women, gender, and sexuality studies.
Created by Occidental’s Black Alumni Organization (BAO), the Stafford Ellison Wright Endowment enables distinguished Black scholars from a variety of fields, artists, elected officials and others to spend time in residence at Occidental each year. BAO members believe that a student’s educational experience will be enriched by in-depth contact with individuals who serve as symbols of excellence.