Doctor Saidiya V. Hartman Visits with FYE Faculty



January 23, 2022 | Academics, Events, Faculty, First Year Experience, Publication

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social UpheavalDoctor Saidiya V. Hartman, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and author of several publications, including the award-winning Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (2020), will visit Guttman’s First-Year Experience (FYE) faculty and staff on Thursday, January 27th, to discuss the significance of Humanities research, writing, and teaching within American studies and beyond. Specific attention will be paid to identity and representation and linguistic and social justice as they relate to the FYE, including two new American Studies courses and a Composition sequence that focuses on these themes.

Hartman’s visit is one of a series of event and professional development opportunities available to FYE faculty and staff in recent history, including visits and subsequent workshop, last Spring, by Professor Gholdy Muhammad, author of Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy (2020), and Professor Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Coordinator of Columbia’s Racial Literacy Project. These events and opportunities have informed the creation of the FYE’s American Studies sequence and the refining of Composition learning outcomes, pedagogy, and assessment practices to more fully value student cultural identity and literacy skills in multiple modes and discourses. Both course sequences, as well as the rest of the FYE, maintain an equity and social justice focus, immersing students in issues in New York City and beyond and asking students to advocate for themselves and their communities in creative, joyful, and academic ways.

Professor Dan Collins, FYE Coordinator, along with Director Allyson Bregman, and facilitator of the event, says “Hartman’s work is inspirational and transgressive.  It’s deeply entrenched in archival research and written to emphasize her warmth, her love, toward her subjects.  She has researched the lives of forgotten (and while alive, neglected, oppressed, and abused) women, and she brings them to life to showcase the ‘wayward’ ways that Black women lived at the turn of the 20th century.  This type of scholarship–both in terms of research methodology and writing style–embodies the transformative nature of academic research and writing.  Hartman’s closing words from the opening section of the book, “A Note on Method,” say it all: ‘The wild idea that animates this book is that young black women were radical thinkers who tirelessly imagined other ways to live and never failed to consider how the world might be otherwise.’  Imagining other ways to live, considering how the world might be otherwise?  I can’t think of any better pedagogy for our times.”