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Rhetorics of Rage in the Music of Bessie Smith, Nina Simone, and Beyoncé

DATE & TIME: 10:00am -11:30am EDT October 4, 2016
As part of the Conversations on Diversity & Social Justice, Karen Hammer will discuss Bessie Smith, Nina Simone, and Beyoncé in the context of women of color feminism as well as historical circumstances and events. 

Through video clips of Bessie Smith’s film, St. Louis Blues, Nina Simone playing “Mississippi Goddam” to an all-white audience, and the Beyoncé’s “Formation” video, Karen Hammer will explore how musicians use specific strategies, such as repetition, narrative, and critique of real world examples, to communicate rage toward a racist and sexist society. We will also discuss these artists in the context of women of color feminism as well as historical circumstances and events. 

Karen Allison Hammer is in the fifth year of the Ph.D. program in English at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her work focuses on gender and sexuality in twentieth and twenty-first century literature, music, and film. Her current project, Butch Between the Wars, approaches Butch as a style of queer masculinity constructed through and by World War I and the Great Depression, as well as transatlantic modernisms. She has several publications on the topic of Butch, including the most recent, “Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Butch?: Lesbian Masculinity as Mental Illness in Postwar American Films.”

For more information contact Peter Naccarato at pnaccarato@mmm.edu. 

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