FELLOW | HUTCHINS CENTER OF AFRICAN AND AFRICAN AMERICAN RESEARCH, HARVARD UNIVERSITY | 2017–2018
Jenny Sharpe was a Stuart Hall Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research at Harvard University between 2017–18. Jenny had the good fortune to study with Stuart Hall at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the summer of 1983. She received a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Texas at Austin in 1987 and is currently Professor of English, Comparative Literature and Gender Studies at UCLA.
She is the author of Allegories of Empire: The Figure of Woman in the Colonial Text (University of Minnesota Press, 1993), considered a foundational book in postcolonial feminist studies; and Ghosts of Slavery: A Literary Archaeology of Black Women’s Lives (University of Minnesota Press, 2002).
During her time at Harvard, she pursued a research project entitled ‘Immaterial Archives: Lost Pasts, Salvaged Futures’. This research derived from Caribbean art and literature a philosophy of history that contends with the archival loss. The artists, poets, and fiction writers of this study embrace spirits, non-verbal sounds, visions, and dreamscapes as creative responses to archival gaps. They not only contend with the problem of addressing a history of slavery and post-slavery but also deploy ephemeral phenomena for establishing new channels of connection with the past. This move represents less a desire to return to the wholeness of a reconstructed past than the necessity to envisage a transformative future.