Judith Madera

Judith Madera (Wake Forest) is an Associate professor in English Department and a Research Fellow in Environmental Studies. Her first book, Black Atlas: Geography and Flow in Nineteenth-Century African American Literature, focuses attention on the dynamic relationship between place and African American literature during the long nineteenth century. Arguing that spatial reconfiguration was a critical concern for the era’s black writers, she demonstrates how the possibility for new modes of representation could be found in the radical redistricting of space. Madera reveals how crucial geography was to the genre-bending works of writers like William Wells Brown, Martin Delany, Pauline Hopkins, Charles Chesnutt, and Alice Dunbar-Nelson. These authors intervened in critical nineteenth-century debates about regional production, free soil, internal diasporas, Indian deterritorialization, pan–American expansionism, and hemispheric circuitry. Black geographies stood in for what was at stake in negotiating a shared world.

Her new talk, “Black Counter-Cartographies,” explores the shared geographical and historical structures linking Afro-diasporic communities in the Caribbean and US. The talk illuminates a cross-section of African American literary history to show how writing can awaken radical place potential. It looks at the ways black diasporic authors reoriented knowledge and form to give presence to black embodiment. For Madera, black counter-cartographies invent connectivity in sites that look like closures. The literature enables critical conversations about place-making and belonging in an epoch of radical struggle.


Posted in Past Presenters