Reading Eisa Davis’s semi-autobiographical play, Angela’s Mixtape (2009), alongside Tanya Hamilton’s film, Night Catches Us (2010), this talk investigates the emergence and significance of what I term “Black Power Nostalgia” in contemporary black expressive culture. A remixing of urban ethnographer Michele Boyd’s theorization of “Jim Crow Nostalgia”—what Boyd cite as the reimagining of contemporary blackness through nostalgia for the Jim Crow past—“Black Power Nostalgia” signifies a longing for the past that acknowledges the incredible systemic and personal violences of it as a means to celebrate the ability of resistance movements—notably, Black Power movements—to imagine, if not effect, social change while also opening space to critique investments in the time of progress. I turn to Davis’s play and Hamilton’s film to consider the ways that, through a series of backward glances, both use the leverage of performance to stake a claim for the currency of blackness in and against a moment awash in rhetorics of the “post.”
**Join us Tuesday from 1-2 p.m. in room 202 of 220 York. A light, catered lunch will be provided.**
Isaiah Matthew Wooden is a director-dramaturg and Ph.D. Candidate in Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University with creative and research interests in popular culture and contemporary black theater and performance. His critical writings have appeared in academic journals including Callaloo and Theatre Journal and on popular sites such as The Huffington Post and The Feminist Wire, among others. Isaiah’s dissertation, “The Afterwards of Blackness: Race, Time, and Contemporary Performance,” analyzes the aesthetic strategies and practices that contemporary black cultural producers deploy to critique concepts of normative or “modern” temporality. Isaiah is currently a Guest Artist in Theater and Performance Studies at Georgetown University, where he is directing Robert O’Hara’s Insurrection: Holding History.