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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 3, 2006

UI's Tsemo To Discuss Spike Lee Film Nov. 10

The University of Iowa lecture series exploring the impact of ethnic identity on American culture and arts will continue Friday, Nov. 10, with a presentation by Bridget Harris Tsemo, assistant professor of rhetoric in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She will speak on "Corporeality and Capitalism: Performing Heteronormativity in Spike Lee's 'She Hate Me'" at 3 p.m. in room 704 of the Jefferson Building.

This free, public lecture explores the dilemma that African American filmmakers like Spike Lee face when they attempt to confront norms about Americanism. Tsemo suggests new ways to think about relationships between art and national identity.

Tsemo's research focuses on the rhetoric of democracy and class in African-American society, culture, literature, and film. She earned her doctorate from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2005, where she won her college's Outstanding Dissertation Award. She is working on a book entitled "Confronting An Unwashed Democracy: African American Literature at the Turn of the Century." She is the co-producer of the Humanities of Iowa funded film project "Black American Gothic," which charts the shift poor blacks experience within society when they move from an urban area like Chicago to a rural area like cities in Iowa through low income subsidized housing.

The series, "Thinking Outside the Box: Ethnic Identities and the Arts" is sponsored by the UI Center for Ethnic Studies and the Arts. It will continue in the spring semester with presentations by E. Patrick Johnson, director of performance studies and associate professor of African American studies at Northwestern University, and Noliwe Rooks, associate director of African American studies at Princeton University.

Drawing on the UI's distinctive strengths in the arts, the UI  Center for Ethnic Studies and the Arts was established in 2006 as  the first research center to focus solely on creative expression as  a specific important cultural component of ethnic communities and  their heritage. The center is housed in the American studies department in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: Karen Smith,