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LitMods in Washington, DC

April 26, 2019

Grad Director Liz Podnieks reconnected with former LitMod student Aesha Nananso at the 49th Annual Meeting of the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA-ACA), held in Washington, DC (April 17-20, 2019). Liz presented a paper for the Motherhood/Father Area, entitled “‘All Disney Nannies Vanish’: Motherhood, Other-Mothers, and ‘Nanny Lit.’” Aesha, as a member of the Black Popular Culture--Special Topic 2019 panel, delivered a version of the essay she wrote for LitMod’s Foundation course (fall 2017), “Transcending Misogynoir: Beyoncé’s ‘[Re]Formation’ as Counterhegemonic Discourse.” Arguing that Black women have been absent from discussions about Black rap and hip-hop music and culture, Aesha engages with queer Black feminist theory to celebrate artists like Beyoncé, who offer vital challenges to anti-Black racism and sexism within American popular entertainment industries.

Reflecting on her travels, Aesha summarizes: “Sharing a panel with scholars whose work you have read and drawn from is a surreal feeling. To receive such positive feedback from other students and scholars who specialize in the field reassured me that my contributions to academia matter. Overall, my experience at PCA/ACA 2019 was extremely rewarding. As I begin my doctoral studies in September, I am more aware of the new and exciting directions that academia is taking.” Additionally, Aesha benefited from the conference location: “I took some time to explore the U.S. capital, visiting both the White House and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. While the White House was somewhat underwhelming—and much smaller in person than on television—the NMAAHC was truly remarkable. Going back all the way to the 1400s, the museum traces the contributions that Black persons have made in and to the United States during the slavery era and thereafter. Though some of the content on display at the museum is deeply emotional, the stories being told throughout are absolutely necessary. Besides the intellectual stimulation that I received at the PCA/ACA Conference, the NMAAHC was the highlight of my trip.”

LitMod is so proud of Aesha, a 2017-2018 alumnus. A top student in the program, she received LitMod’s Mimi Choi Essay Award for the best essay in a Literatures of Modernity course. Aesha will start a PhD in English at the University of Toronto in the fall, 2019, where she plans to continue her research, begun during her MA studies, on neo-slave narratives. Her work will be supported by grants from the Viola Whitney Pratt Memorial Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Fund Scholarship in English, and the Faculty of Arts & Science Recognition of Excellence Award. Congratulations, Aesha, on your many accomplishments!