Amaranth Borsuk presents at the annual Modern Language Association Conference

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IAS faculty member Amaranth Borsuk participated in this year's MLA conference in Seattle in January, where she spoke on the panel "Weird Books" convened by Whitney Trettien (University of Pennsylvania) and Élika Ortega (University of Colorado Boulder). The panel invited scholars and book artists to "think critically about the role of weirdness in studying the material text [and] excavate the history and materiality of a weird book."

Borsuk's talk, titled "(For)Edges," examined Alisa Banks' 2009 series of artists' books Edges, in which the artist used artificial hair to braid shut the foredges of four volumes: cornrow, lace braid, thread wrap, and twist. Created in response to a wave of anti immigrant sentiment in the United States, the work pays homage to African American hair braiding traditions while also drawing attention to the form of the book and its relationship to the human body. Placing the work in the context of contemporary Black North American artists working with hair, including David Hammons, Sonya Clark, and Chantal Gibson, Borsuk queried the way Banks implicates the reader in the objectification and inscrutability of another person.

The panel included talks by Tia Blassingame (Scripps College), Kari M. Krauss (University of Maryland, College Park), and Meredith L. McGill (Rutgers University). At MLA, Borsuk also joined the offsite reading, curated and hosted by IAS faculty member Jeanne Heuving and the MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics, where she read a poem and helped emcee the festivities.