Department of English

Racial Capitalism and American Literature Now

Friday, April 7
Pembroke Hall 305, 172 Meeting Street

“Racial Capitalism and American Literature Now” is a one-day symposium convened to assess the effects of financial, institutional, and cultural capital on literature by writers of color in the US. Literary traditions that achieved greater visibility as an adjunct of minority student activism during the 1960s, have by now been fully centralized in mainstream literary markets and liberal academic institutions. These historical shifts have prompted writers to reimagine traditional conceptions of political resistance, the literary marketplace, and aesthetics. In addressing such concerns the panelists in this event draw upon an eclectic body of theoretical resources and historical frameworks, including Cedric Robinson’s concept of racial capitalism, Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capitalism, the genealogy of neoliberalism, and data analysis.

Free and open to the public. For questions please contact

This event is convened by Rolland Murray. 


10:00 am -10:15 am   Welcome: Rolland Murray 
10:15 am -12:00 pm

Panel 1

"Racializing Capital: The Dream of Formality and the Origins of Ethnic Literature”
Mark Chiang (University of Illinois, Chicago)

"Bright Nothing: Black Feminist After-Futures in Contemporary American Literature"
Erica Edwards (Yale University)

Moderated by: Ralph Rodriguez (Brown University)

12:00 pm -1:45 pm Lunch break
2:00 pm - 3:45 pm

Panel 2

"Critique or Relocation? Latinx Literature and Gentrification"
Mary Pat Brady (Cornell University)

 “How #BLM Became a Story: Black Fiction in the Age of Platform Capitalism”
Richard Jean So (McGill University)

Moderator: Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman (Brown University)

3:45 pm - 4:00 pm Break
4:00 pm - 5:45 pm

Panel 3

“Writing New People: Race, Institutionalization, and Market Value”
Rolland Murray (Brown University)

"From Black Expos to Book Deals"
Kinohi Nishikawa (Princeton University)

Moderator: Tamar Katz (Brown University)