In the Fall Semester of 2020, in the midst of the corona pandemic, I conducted an MA seminar at the English Department of the University of Zurich on the topic of "Nation and Black Modernities". Against the backdrop of the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the USA and across the world, the course examined the fraught relationship between identity, history, and belonging experienced by African-Americans specifically and how the dilemmas of Black (US-)Americans found expression in Black culture.
We delved into a great variety of texts and performances, ranging from the artistic to the activist, in order to learn more about how Black (US-)Americans have articulated their own experiences across the centuries and up to our present days.
We shared our insights in weekly class discussions and collected them with the help of web tools, connecting many different strands of African-American culture and history.
The end-product of that process is a virtual exhibition. We have tried to render our own engagement with the richness and complexity of African-American culture, as well as the many insights we gained along the way. This is by no means an exhaustive catalogue of African-American culture and history, but rather a small slice of what Toni Morrison called “Black Matter(s)”.