Catherine R. Squires Public Lecture

March 13, 2012
Languages and Literatures Building
10 (basement)

The Hugh Downs School welcomes Professor Catherine R. Squires for a public lecture and performance workshop. Professor Squires is the inaugural John and Elizabeth Bates Cowles Professor of Journalism, Diversity, and Equality at the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  

Memorialized Screens and Racial Forgetting

In 2007 and early 2008, many astute observers of racial politics predicted that Barack Obama had no chance of winning the Democratic nomination, let alone the White House, in the upcoming election. This talk will take on the task of unraveling the pessimism expressed in 2007 through an exploration of the ways in which people imagined the “readiness” of the white American public to vote—or not vote—for a man of African descent. In the process, I will argue that peculiar patterns of memorialization and forgetting created grounds for undue optimism about our “readiness” that misunderstood and misinterpreted the reasons why many Black scholars and voters did not think Obama could win in 2008. Furthermore, if we fail to understand these dynamics of public memory, we are in danger of losing opportunities to ready ourselves for future pluralist politics.