Get to know the AALCS! Introducing the Monthly Member Spotlight: First up, President Grégory Pierrot

The AALCS is very excited to feature our first member spotlight! Once a month we will feature a new member to emphasize the great work the AALCS is doing and build our community. First up, President Grégory Pierrot! Check out his responses below.

1) Tell us about yourself.

“I’m a 40 year-old, recently naturalized French immigrant of West Indian descent. I grew up in Metz, Lorraine, not too far from Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. I obtained my PhD in English at the Pennsylvania State University, specializing in African American literature and Haitian Revolutionary Studies. I have been teaching at the University of Connecticut at Stamford since 2013. I’m a middling drummer, an even worse guitarist, a mostly regrettable singer, and I’ll play soccer anywhere on the left wing.”

2) What is your favorite class to teach/that you have taught?

“I’m very fond of my “Music in African American Literature” course. If the reasons aren’t obvious, it is because I get to listen to and discuss music with students all semester long. The course mixes history, pop culture, politics, and allows students a variety of angles into the material. It’s always made for very entertaining and lively discussions. As for myself, music was very important to me when I was growing up, and a crucial entry into African American culture and literature. The long history of relations between African Americans and France also means that the French at large think they have a special relation with black American culture. It is not untrue, but it is also a source of interesting cognitive dissonance when you’re black and French. I have broached it in this course, when relevant. At the confluence of music and literature, we also are bound to discuss matters of national and racial belonging, matters of formal, linguistic and cultural translation, i.e. all the things I’m interested in as a scholar. So it is a treat, hopefully for the students too!”

3) What is your current research project?

“I just turned in my book manuscript, The Black Avenger in Atlantic Culture, which hopefully will get published some time next year at Georgia UP. I mentioned earlier that I also work in Haitian Studies: I am a co-editor on an Anthology of Haitian Revolutionary Fictions, a wonderful project led by Marlene Daut (UVA) for which I am also doing translations (I moonlight as a translator). I have been working in collaboration with Tabitha McIntosh (Birkbeck) on cultural exchanges between Henry I of Haiti’s kingdom (1811-1820) and the West. We have written and continue to write articles and are currently working on a digital humanities project about the kingdom of Haiti, the first installment of which we hope to release later this year. I’m staying mysterious about it—suspense!—but I can say that this first installment will center on Néhri, a play by Haitian author Juste Chanlatte long believed lost, a copy of which McIntosh recently located. These projects have been occupying much of my time, but I have many more at different stages of completion. I’ll spare you for now.”

4) What made you specialize in this area?

“I consider myself a Black Studies scholar, and clearly my personal background had some influence on it. As a teenager I played in bands, wrote for fanzines that my sister started and which focused not just on music but on broader cultural and political matters. There was always a connection between these interests and literature to me, but not necessarily one that I thought could I could work on as a student. As a French grad student my specialization was more broadly American literature and I had a somewhat narrow understanding of what was allowed at the university—single-author study, that type of thing. Reading Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic certainly made an impression on me as an example of a study that crossed disciplinary boundaries. The opening sentence in the first chapter— “Striving to be both European and black requires some specific forms of double consciousness”—struck me as a research program of sorts. The unspoken reference to DuBois also makes clear that this program necessarily includes African American thought and art. By the time I joined a grad program in the US it occurred to me that I could work on all those topics I’d been writing about and thinking about outside of academia. This may explain why some of my work falls under Romanticism, Haitian Studies, etc. What I’ve long been interested in is what it means to be black in the West; black literatures, cultures and history as they relate to each other. So I follow these interests where they take me, so to speak.”

5) What is your favorite food or meal?

“Aaaaaah what a tough question! There are too many to count, really, but to represent, I’ll say quiche Lorraine, my birth region’s gift to the culinary world, and accra, a cod fritter they make all over the Caribbean but which I know from my Martinican mother. I no longer eat meat but I still eat fish for now, so I suppose accra’s ahead of the traditional quiche with lardons, but the quiche is forgiving and versatile.”

2018 AALCS Award Recipients

The African American Literature and Culture Society is proud to announce the recipients of the Stephen E. Henderson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry, and the Darwin T. Turner Award for Excellence in Scholarship in African American Culture and Literature for the year 2018.

 

Singleton

giovanni singleton (image from Harriet: a poetry blog)

giovanni singleton, our Henderson Award recipient, is the author of Ascension (Counterpath 2012), winner of the California Book Award Gold Medal for poetry, and AMERICAN LETTERS: works on paper (Canarium Books, 2017). Her poetry appears in many anthologies and is inscribed on the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, CA. She has been a fellow at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Cave Canem, and the Napa Valley Writers Conference, as well as a recipient of the New Langton Bay Area Award. She is the coordinator for the Lunch Poems series at the University of California-Berkeley and founding editor of nocturnes (re)view of the literary arts. She has taught at Saint Mary’s College, Naropa University and New Mexico State University.

 

 

MicheleElam

Michele Elam (photo by Linda Cicero)

Michele Elam, our Turner Award recipient, is William Robertson Coe Professor of American Studies, Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, Professor of English, and currently Director of the Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University. Elam is the author of Race, Work, and Desire in American Literature, 1860-1930 (Cambridge University Press, 2003), The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium (Stanford University Press, 2011), and is Editor of the Cambridge Companion to James Baldwin (Cambridge University Press, 2015). She has published articles in African American Review, American Literature, Theatre Journal and Genre, among others as well as op-eds for CNN, Huffington Post, and Boston Review.

 

Award recipients will be recognized and honored during the AALCS Reception and Reading held at the American Literature Association 29th Annual Conference (Hyatt Regency, San Francisco, CA) on Friday, May 25, 2018. The reception will feature giovanni singleton reading from her work.