ShondaLand the Symposium and Watch Party
Thursday January 29 - Friday January 30
ShondaLand is the production company of television screenwriter and producer Shonda Rhimes, whose current series Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder (for which she serves as executive producer) comprise the Thursday Night prime-time block on ABC. At the core of Rhimes' productions are richly drawn, complex, contradictory Black Women and Women of Color who eschew traditional notions of Black and Female respectability. With the breakout success Scandal which featured Kerry Washington as the first Black Female lead of a Primetime drama since the late Teresa Graves starred in the short-lived Get Christie Love! (1974-1975), Rhimes has helped revolutionize the use of social media in the promotion of television and helped galvanize an unprecedented community of Black Women viewers that recall the groundbreaking work of critic Jacqueline Bobo a generation ago.
ShondaLand the Symposium brought together a group of women scholars working in the fields of History, Women’s Studies, Law, Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Black Diaspora Studies, and Media Studies to explore the broad implications of Rhimes’ work.
Co-Sponsored by the Forum for Scholars and Publics, the Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship, and the Durham County Library.
The event began with a watch party at Durham's Full Frame Theater in the American Tobacco Campus on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 29, with a light reception starting at 7:30 p.m, and viewing party from 8:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m., where viewers gathered to watch and comment on the opening of the spring season of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away with Murder. More information about parking and accessibility at Full Frame Theater.
On Friday, Jan. 30, the event continued with two panel discussions at the Forum for Scholars & Publics, in 011 Old Chemistry Building. Download the poster here.
“I woke up like this”: Desire & Respectability in ShondaLand
Friday, Jan. 30 2015
9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Natalie Bullock Brown, Saint Augustine's University (Film and Interactive Media Studies)
Joan Morgan, New York University (American Studies). Twitter: @milfinainteasy
Treva Lindsey, The Ohio State University (Women and Gender Studies). Twitter:@divafeminist
Lisa B. Thompson, University of Texas at Austin (African & African American Diaspora Studies). Twitter: @playprof
Moderator: Anne-Maria Makhulu, Duke University. Twitter: @AnneKhalumba
This panel addressed issues around the desirability of Black Women, the importance of sexual desire in the lives of Black Women and the ways tropes of respectability might police Black Women’s identity and expressive culture.
“You gotta testify because the booty don’t lie”: The (Il)Legality of Black Womanhood
Friday, Jan. 30 2015
12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Brittney Cooper, Rutgers University (Women's and Gender Studies; Africana Studies). Twitter: @ProfessorCrunk
Jessica Marie Johnson, Michigan State University (History). Twitter: @jmjafrx
Martha Jones, University of Michigan (History). Twitter: @marthajonesUM
Blair LM Kelley, North Carolina State University (History). Twitter: @profblmkelley
Moderator: Karla FC Holloway, Duke University. Twitter: @ProfHolloway
This panel examined the “equal protection clause” in the context of the intersectionality of Black Womanhood. In what ways are Black Women's bodies protected and/or unprotected by the law? How are Black Women emboldened in the context of ShondaLand to protect, embody or undermine legal structures that won’t/don’t protect them?