Institute to explore race, identity and belonging in Reckford Lecture and related events
January 28, 2022 | Kristen Chavez
Magdalena J. Zaborowska will deliver the 2022 Mary Stevens Reckford Memorial Lecture in European Studies on Feb. 24, 2022.
Zaborowska is a professor of African American and American literary and cultural studies at the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Her research includes literary and cultural studies and African American literature, with a particular emphasis on James Baldwin.
Her lecture, titled “‘Between Home, Blackness, and Me:’ Unsettling Locations, Lives, and Archives in American Literary Studies,” coincides with Institute Director Patricia Parker’s vision of structuring belonging at Carolina.
“Creating and sustaining a sense of belonging is foundational to the experience of building community. To belong to a community is to act as a creator and co-owner of that community – whether it is at Carolina, in the U.S., or across the world,” Parker said.
“Professor Zaborowska’s research on James Baldwin’s life in Europe during the mid-twentieth century, and the ways he reckoned with questions about belonging and identity, can help guide our thinking on critical questions at the intersections of race, place, and belonging,” Parker continued.
The Reckford Lecture will see expanded programming along these themes, supported by the IAH’s Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative.
Additional Reckford-related programming includes:
- A reading group organized by the Institute, the American Studies Department, and the Critical Ethnic Studies Collective on Zaborowska’s book, Me and My House: James Baldwin’s Last Decade in France
- Feb. 3: “In Baldwin’s House: Reckoning and Memory,” a public conversation with the reading group exploring themes of the book and their resonance today and in the work of African American, Indigenous and people of color and their contributions to Europe and beyond. https://go.unc.edu/ReckfordReading
- Feb. 11: “Finding Baldwin: An Exploration of Belonging and Identity in Archives,” a workshop coordinated with University Libraries. https://go.unc.edu/ReckfordArchives
Zaborowska has worked extensively on Baldwin’s life and literary work. Her book, James Baldwin’s Turkish Decade: Erotics of Exile, received the MLA William Sanders Scarborough Prize for an outstanding scholarly study of black American literature or culture and received an Honorable Mention for the Errol Hill Award from the American Society for Theater Research. In 2018, Zaborowska published Me and My House: James Baldwin’s Last Decade in France, where she examines the themes of his works through the lens of his sprawling house in southern France.
In 2020, she collaborated on the Chez Baldwin online exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. She also serves as an adviser for the James Baldwin Project, a multimedia website dedicated to the activist and author that includes a restored version James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket, a film originally released in 1990.
The Institute for the Arts and Humanities hosts the annual Mary Stevens Reckford Memorial Lecture in European Studies, established in 1990 by late classics professor emeritus Kenneth J. Reckford to honor his wife, Mary Stevens Reckford. The Institute hosts the lecture close to Mary’s birthday in February.
The lecture is designed to appeal to the public, rather than specialists. Speakers are asked to provide “pleasure, instruction, an interdisciplinary approach and a sense of shared humanity.” Previous lecturers include Catherine Woollard, scholar Ronald Judy, and author Zia Haider Rahman.