Research Student Seminar

The next Research Student Seminar is Monday 9 May, Dreyfus Room,  6-8pm.

We are delighted to welcome Laila Haidarali who is Lecturer in Modern U.S. History at the University of Essex, speaking on New Negro womanhood in brown: colour, sex, and race from the Harlem Renaissance to World War II.’

Dr Laila Haidarali will discuss work on her first monograph Brown Beauty: Color, Sex, and Race from the Harlem Renaissance to World War II, currently in preparation for New York University Press. Brown Beauty focuses on the role of African American literary print culture in the interwar period, and shows how multiple venues disseminated idealized views of ‘race womanhood’ that increasingly equated women’s outer beauty with brownness of skin. Beginning in the 1920s, Haidarali shows how this public imaging of brown-skin beauty emerged through a diverse range of representations of the middle-class ‘New Negro’ woman, each appearing to reflect different sets of concerns arising from interconnected and gendered processes of African American modernization. Haidarali finds how the colour-inflected language and visualization of brown skin aimed to reshape public views of ‘New Negro’ women, by casting them as modern, urban, feminine beauties, in a complex relation with older—and lingering—reformist notions of respectability. Brown Beauty studies how diverse groups of middle-class African American cultural producers, oriented towards reconstituting visuals and visions of the modern African American woman, emphasized and heightened the appeal of brown beauty. As Haidarali interrogates the particularly classed and increasingly consumerist messages in these modern renderings of ‘New Negro’ womanhood, she argues for the significance of brown beauty in the decades leading up to the modern civil rights movement.”

Laila Haiderali’s profile:

The Research Student Seminar is a student-led seminar, convened this year by Guy Beckett and Steffan Blayney. It provides a forum for research students in the History department to meet and question leading historians and thinkers.

The seminars run every fortnight on Monday evenings. For the programme for the rest of the year:

The seminar’s format is flexible and determined by the guest speaker, but it usually consists of a paper/presentation, followed by an hour for questions/discussion. Afterwards we take the speaker to a nearby restaurant for dinner, where discussion continues more informally.

It is very helpful to have numbers for the meal so please email Guy by mid-day on the day of the seminar if you would like to join us.

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