Pembroke Center

The Nicknames of Distortion: A Hortense Spillers Symposium

The 2022–23 Shauna M. Stark ’76, P’10 Out of the Archive Event
Friday, Nov. 11 and Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022

In 2019, renowned American literary critic and Black feminist scholar Hortense Spillers donated her papers to the Pembroke Center’s Feminist Theory Archive in the name of the Black Feminist Theory Project, and in April 2022, the Pembroke Center opened the exhibit “Hortense Spillers: A Life Recorded.”

This symposium is a celebration of both the collection and exhibit. It will bring together graduate students, early-career scholars, and independent scholars to study and discuss Spillers’s contributions to intellectual and pedagogical practices in the fields of Black feminist criticism, literary studies, and cultural studies, among others. This symposium will include a keynote talk by C. Riley Snorton (University of Chicago). Spillers will be present and participating in this event. There will be a conversation between Spillers and Margo Natalie Crawford, University of Pennsylvania, to close the symposium. 

This symposium is led by graduate students Tara Holman, Christopher Lasasso, Kiran Saili, and Semilore Sobande in collaboration with the Pembroke Center.

Pembroke Hall 305

Free and open to the public. Registration not required.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Africana Studies, the Department of American Studies, the Department of English, and the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America.

Presented with the support of the Friends of the Pembroke Center.


Spillers Symposium Program



Friday, November 11 





Tara Holman, Brown University



The Hortense Spillers Papers: Behind the Scenes


Amanda Knox and Mary Murphy, Pembroke Center Archives, Brown University


Discussant: Christopher Lasasso, Brown University



Panel 1: In Her Words: Spillers Through the Archive


Kiana Murphy, Brown University

Zalika U. Ibaorimi, University of Texas at Austin

Ra Malika Imhotep, University of California, Riverside


Discussants: Donald Brown, Brown University and Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman, Brown University






Keynote Lecture

C. Riley Snorton, University of Chicago, “Thinking Gender in the Interstice”


Saturday, November 12 



Continental Breakfast



Panel 2: “Learn[ing] To Hear it Well”:  Exercises in Psychoanalytics


Devon Clifton, Brown University

dee(dee) c. ardan, Independent Scholar

Andrew Blackley, Independent Scholar

Benjamin Schwartz, Vanderbilt University


Discussants: Megan Finch, Brown University and Adrián Hernández-Acosta, Brown University



Lunch Break



Panel 3: Inventiveness & Revising Public Discourses


Ariel Lawrence, Emory University

Kress Stewart, Independent Scholar

Sihle Motsa, University of Cape Town


Discussants: Kevin E. Quashie, Brown University and Shoniqua Roach, Brandeis University






Closing Session: 

Hortense Spillers, Vanderbilt University

Margo Natalie Crawford, University of Pennsylvania


Contact information: