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The Stuart Hall Library Saturday Reading Group

Saturday Reading Group: House and Home Michael McMillan and bell hooks

16 Jun 2018

In June’s Saturday Reading Group, we will explore the theme of home and belonging through the writings of British artist, curator and playwright Michael McMillan, and American cultural critic bell hooks.

  • Venue

    Stuart Hall Library

  • 15.00 - 17.00
    Free, booking essential

Join us for a reading group focusing on the politics of home, housing and migration through Michael McMillan’s essay ‘The “West Indian” Front Room in the African Diaspora’ and bell hooks’ chapter ‘Kentucky is my fate’ from her book Belonging.

All writings are read together in the group, you don’t need to read them in advance.

In Michael McMillan’s essay, he presents a personal study of the ‘West Indian Front Room’, discussing the significance of its kitsch, conservative aesthetic. Through documenting this social and cultural phenomenon he examines the formation of migrant identity and desires through domestic objects.

For postwar black settlers from the Carribbean, the “Front Room” was a response of “arrival” and “ambition” to a sense of displacement, exile and alienation in a foreign land. The Front Room could be an ostentatious display of wealth through material reality, but it was also a treasuring for tomorrow of dreams that had been deferred.

In ‘Kentucky is my fate’ bell hooks returns to her birthplace and reflects on the psychological impact of separation and re-connection with her spiritual home, a place where landscape and community are intimately tied to her identity. hooks draws on history and personal experience to compose ‘a geography of the heart’.

Freely roaming Kentucky hills in childhood, running from snakes and all forbidden outside terrors both real and imaginary, I learn to be safe in the knowledge that facing what I fear and moving beyond it will keep me secure. With this knowledge I nurtured a sublime trust in the power of nature to seduce, excite, delight, and solace

bell hooks is a US author, feminist, and social activist. Her writings have covered topics including gender, race, teaching and the significance of media for contemporary culture. Her books include, ‘Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women’ and ‘Feminism, Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem’, ‘Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope’, ‘Where We Stand: Class Matters’, and ‘We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity’. She is Distinguished Professor in Residence in Appalachian Studies at Berea College Kentucky.

Dr. Michael McMillan is a UK writer, dramatist, artist/curator whose exhibitions include ‘The West Indian Front Room’ (2005) and ‘Origins of the Afro Comb’ (2013). In 2007 Iniva collaborated with McMillan to host the exhibition, ‘West Indian Front Room’ at Rivington Place. An interactive ‘Front Room’ website was also created to accompany the exhibition. McMillan has spoken frequently at a range of Iniva events. He is an Associate Lecturer in Cultural & Historical Studies as well as Associate Researcher RAS project at University of the Arts London. He had exhibitions at Peckham Platform and New Art Exchange.

This reading group is free and open to all.

Saturday Reading Group: House and Home