English Initiatives

Readings and Lectures

Yale English Initiative on Literature and Racial Justice
This series of readings and lectures highlights questions of race and resistance, and focuses on the ways that creative writers, performers, critics and readers have shaped histories of racial justice and empowerment over the centuries.

Initiative on Literature and Racial Justice: A public conversation with Albert Woodfox, the author of Solitary


The Department will host workshops on ‘Active Listening’ and a discussion of ‘What is an English Department?’ in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 (dates tbc).

Reading Groups

Engaging Racial Justice in Our Classrooms 

Convenors: Rasheed Tazudeen and Sunny Xiang

The broad aims of the group are to provide a space to discuss anti-racist teaching philosophies and practices from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, to think through ways to incorporate anti-racist pedagogy into our course designs and classrooms, and to put the work of critical pedagogy and literary studies in deeper theoretical and practical conversation with racial and social justice movements both locally and globally. We welcome Yale faculty, graduate students, and participants from all departments and disciplines.

Meeting summaries for the Engaging Racial Justice reading group

Fall 2021 Schedule

9/22/21: Franke Lecture: Khalil Muhammad, “The Origins and Durability of Anti-Black Criminalization in the United States

This lecture historicizes the use of racial crime statistics as a technology of social difference to justify new white supremacist ideas as well as innovative forms of state violence, segregation, and discrimination after the end of chattel slavery when African Americans gained their citizenship and civil rights. In the context of nineteenth-century eugenics, crime statistics in Europe and the US were not new in this way. And yet, the shifting economic and political priorities of US elites with respect to European and Asian immigrants as well as African Americans led to a more salient and durable form of anti-Black racial criminalization in the twentieth-century United States.

9/23/21: Finzi-Contini Lecture: Namwali Serpell, “Race Off: The Fantasy of Race Transformation”

“Race Off” tracks the persistent fantasy of race transformation—specifically, of “switching” from black to white or vice versa—in American fiction, journalism, and film from the nineteenth century to the present. Serpell will discuss the aesthetic, affective, and political implications of this fantasy; its resonance with and distinction from “passing” narratives; and how it tends toward different underlying ideas and tones depending on whether the author is black or white.

9/30/21: The Caribbean Studies Working at Yale & Race, Gender, And Sexuality Studies Colloquium in Yale English: Kaiama Glover, “A Regarded Self: Caribbean Womanhood and the Ethics of Disorderly Being” 

Professor Kaiama Glover is Ann Whitney Olin Professor of French & Africana Studies and Faculty Director of the Barnard Digital Humanities Center. Her teaching and research interests include francophone literature, particularly that of Haiti and the French Antilles; colonialism and postcolonialism; and sub-Saharan francophone African cinema. She will be speaking to us about her incredible new book, A Regarded Self: Caribbean Womanhood and the Ethics of Disorderly Being. 

6:00-8:00pm via Zoom

Spring 2022 Schedule