Reclaiming My Space: Emergent Black Studies Research at UT Austin

Moderator: Dr. Roger Reeves (UT Austin)
Panelists: Noelle Janak, Khyree Davis, William Mosley, Carlisia McCord, gina e. tillis

This panel will showcase the graduate and doctoral students’ research taking place at Black Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. As the only Ph.D. granting Black Studies program in the U.S. southwest, Black Studies attracts top future scholars and researchers who are exploring critical race theory, history, politics, art and art history, and education, at the intersection of race and identity.

Dr. Roger Reeves‘s poems have appeared in journals such as Poetry, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, Boston ReviewBest American Poetry, and Tin House, among others.  He was awarded a 2015 Whiting Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a 2013 NEA Fellowship, and a Ruth Lilly Fellowship by the Poetry Foundation in 2008. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas-Austin. His first book is King Me (Copper Canyon Press, 2013), which won the Larry Levis Reading Prize from Virginia Commonwealth University, the Zacharis Prize from Ploughshares, and the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award.

Noelle Janak received their undergraduate education from Saint Louis University and is currently a first-year Ph.D. student in African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Their research interests include the various intersections of prison abolition, Black queer theory, Black Radical Tradition, and hip-hop feminism. Through an interdisciplinary approach, they seek to uncover and explore the various ways musical artists, organizers, and activists conceptualize freedom during revolutionary moments by employing organizing as a form of creative expression and creative expression as a form of activism. Noelle is privileged to receive funding as a Harrington Doctoral Fellow and serves as a Research Fellow for the Center of Race and Democracy. They are proud to be a member of the rich intellectual communities at UT-Austin.

Khyree D. Davis is a second year PhD student in African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Their research interrogates the geographic knowledges acquired, produced, and reworked within Black queer and trans communities across space and time. This research looks toward political formations and creative/artistic projects as responses to distinctly spatial marginalizationand/or domination experienced by these communities. Their fieldwork and sites of analysis look at distinct yet interrelated spaces of the Black queer diaspora, such as the U.S. South, prisons, New York City, urban Canada, and the digital sphere.

William Mosley is a Black queer feminist scholar-activist and PhD Candidate in African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, and is also earning a Portfolio in Women’s, Gender, and LGBTQ Studies. His research interests include critical race theory, radical politics, Southern culture, and Black feminism. His dissertation, entitled South of Black: Gender, Race, and Performance in Contemporary Expressive Cultures, explores undertheorized representations of Black gender and sexuality across the US South that are also situated in a genealogy of transformational politics. He earned a B.A. in Biology and English from Amherst College and an M.A. in English from the University of Texas at Austin. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @willinthehaus.

Carlisia McCord is an on-again off-again writer from Memphis, TN. Her research interests include Black women’s sexuality and general American kink, historical preservation, the intersections of race and language, and the social and systemic continuities of American history. She is a recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, where she received her Master’s degree in Sociocultural Anthropology. She now writes and studies as an independent scholar.

gina english tillis’ research, pedagogy, and praxis is situated at the nexus of culture, classroom, and community. She is an afro-futuristic, praxis-oriented researcher that draws insights from critical theory, contemporary philosophy, social-psychology, political economy, and community development. She employs community informed and participatory methodologies in her applied research agendas. Her research and praxis have enabled her to develop a keen understanding of the challenges of developing and directing community-based educational empowerment programs that serve our community.

As a critical pedagogue, Gina has garnered a reputation of being inspirational and deeply committed to cultivating educational experiences that extend beyond the classroom. She asserts that education is ultimately the practice of freedom and that all students deserve engaging, enlightening, and empowering experiences that helps them envision the relationship between knowledge facilitated in the classroom, who they are, and who they ultimately aspire to become.

Gina is currently a PhD student in Cultural Studies in Education (C & I) at The University of Texas at Austin.