Adrienne Brown, University of Chicago | Newberry

Adrienne Brown, University of Chicago

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

5 to 7pm

Room 101

Center for American History and Culture Programs
American Literature Seminar

Appraisal Literatures: Reading Race on the Mid-Century Block

Adrienne Brown, University of Chicago

The story of residential segregation in the mid-century U.S. has typically revolved around red-lining, racial covenants, and violence. Undergirding these robust mechanisms of exclusion, however, were more speculative acts of racial appraisal based on conjecture, instinct, and self-conscious empiricism. While literary fiction largely characterized residential segregation as a series of interpersonal dramas involving clear-cut acts of discrimination, in switching our attention from fictions of segregation to what I’m calling narratives of appraisal-found in valuation textbooks, blockbusters’ confessions, and the urban empiricism of Jane Jacobs and Gwendolyn Brooks-we find the act of reading race rather than the responses to it taking precedence through its framing as a tentative process requiring deliberation and instruction.

Cost and Registration Information 

Scholl Center Semiar papers are pre-circulated electronically. For a copy of the paper, email the Scholl Center at Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.