Dr. Kinohi Nishikawa: The Final “Look” of Black Books
Dr. Kinohi Nishikawa presents: “Who is the audience for African American literature?” It’s a question that has hovered over the profession of black authorship for much of the 20th century. Critics have long pointed out how authors’ intentions were routinely undercut by editorial revision and bowdlerization. This talk considers the designs of books themselves. Comprising the interface between a literary work and its audience, visual elements such as typography, illustration, and cover design often had the final say in the “look” of black books . The talk offers a brief history of this interface by way of surveying contemporary black art that cites and re-sites iconic books of decades past. In work by Kara Walker and Glen Ligon, we can see what shifts in 20th-century book design can tell us about African American literature’s readers and markets, and its actual imagined communities.
Dr. Kinohi Nishikawa is an assistant professor of English and African American studies at Princeton University.
Co-sponsored by The Office of Intercultural Life and the African American History Museum of Iowa.
Free and open to the public as part of Humanities Iowa Presentations.