Student Lecture Series | Michelle M. Wright, The Physics of Diaspora: Why All Black Lives Matter

Thursday, October 15, 2020, 6:30 - 8:30pm

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This event will be conducted through Zoom. Please register in advance here. Zoom account registration is required.

Michelle M. Wright is the Augustus Baldwin Longstreet Professor of English at Emory University in Atlanta, where she teaches courses in African American, Black European, and African Diaspora literature and theory. She is the author of Becoming Black: Creating Identity in the African Diaspora (Duke UP, 2004) and Physics of Blackness: Beyond the Middle Passage Epistemology (University of Minnesota Press, 2015). She is currently at work on her third monograph, Afroeuropolis, which looks at how the space of Europe is constructed by writers from across the Black and African diasporas. 

In this talk, Wright will discuss the ethical conundrums that are often suppressed in Black Studies when it comes to academic representations of Blackness in a diasporic framework. How does one formulate critique within and of a vulnerable population within the Ivory Tower? The answer, she argues, lies in straight lines, Black physics, and Epiphenomenal time.

Her book, Physics of Blackness: Beyond the Middle Passage Epistemology (UMN Press, 2015) uses theories of time from lay discourses in theoretical physics, philosophy, history, and literature to show how theorizations of Blackness become more accurate and inclusive when we move from understanding Blackness as a “what” to a “when” and a “where”. Her current project, Afroeuropolis looks at how space, place, and affect destabilizes yet expands notions of home and racial belonging.

She is also co-editor, with Tina M. Campt, of Reading the Black German Experience: A Special Issue of Callaloo; with Maria Fernandez and Faith Wilding, of Domain Errors! A Cyberfeminist Handbook and, with Antje Schuhmann, of Blackness and Sexualities.

This lecture and discussion is free and accessible to the public.

View the full Fall 2020 Lectures and Events List.


  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.