Agora Speaker Series: Graduate Student Pre-Conference Presentations

November 8, 2019 - 3:00pm to 5:00pm

“A Stranger in Wakanda: Erik Killmonger and Black Natal Alienation”

This essay develops a conceptual framework for interpreting Black Panther through a juxtaposition of afropessimist thought with the cultural studies perspective on media. This conceptual framework is woven together through an exploration of existing scholarship on race-conscious films in general and Black Panther in particular. Augmenting Stuart Hall’s method of oppositional reading, this essay engages in what I call an iconoclastic reading of the film Black Panther by arguing that its plot is animated by the desire to escape Black social death through claims to African culture. While the demand for integration into the Human fold seems productive, an iconoclastic reading searches for how the construction of the Human is always in opposition to the Black slave. This essay’s intervention is important to on-going efforts to move scholars in communication and media studies beyond impulsive celebrations of cultural representation.

Location and Address

208B CL


Schedule of Events

“Reading the Adpocalypse: Precarity on YouTube”

The YouTube Adpocalypse presents a distinct moment of crisis for the most popular video streaming service on the internet, but also a contentious moment for the intersection of online advertising and streaming video in general. One specific group affected by this disruption are the “content-creators” of YouTube, who almost overnight were forced to reckon with the precarity of such privatized, digital labor. This essay examines their narratives through the lens of Malin and Chandler’s concept of splintering precarity.


Kory Riemensperger
“Anti-blackness and Asian Victimhood in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard”

This presentation explores the rhetoric surrounding Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard (SFFA), in which the plaintiffs alleged Harvard's admissions program discriminated against Asian American applicants. SFFA is an anti-affirmative action organization headed by conservative legal strategist Edward Blum, one of the primary architects behind Shelby County v. Holder, the 2013 Supreme Court case that stripped the enforcement mechanism of the Voting Rights Act. Thus, one of the legal architects largely responsible for dismantling the Voting Rights Act is now attempting to take down affirmative action on the basis it violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. SFFA thus relies on a seemingly paradoxical discourse that merges anti-racism with conservative, anti-black opposition to affirmative action. I argue that as a product of a multicultural era that combines seemingly inclusive/anti-racist gestures with old-school anti-blackness, the case deploys a seemingly progressive Asian victimhood narrrative which relies on the implicit extension of anti-black racism. In doing so, I attempt to add to existing rhetorical scholarship on race by pointing to the importance of theorizing the paradoxes and specificities of anti-blackness and white supremacy in a multicultural era.


Corinne Sugino