Naimah Zulmadelle Pétigny is a Black feminist scholar, dancer and educator. As an assistant professor in the Arts and Studies department, she holds a Schiller Family Assistant Professorship in Race in Art and Design.
Pétigny’s research and teaching is shaped by her experiences as a youth organizer, racial justice facilitator and dancer in professional ensembles. She holds a BA in Women’s Studies and Sociology from Vassar College and earned her PhD in Feminist Studies in the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota.
Pétigny’s research and writing is multimodal and exists at the intersections of Black feminist theory, gender studies and performance studies. She writes from, and towards, expansive and experimental sites of Blackness. Her dissertation, The Hold is Also an Embrace: Readings in Contemporary Black Feminist Performance, analyzes contemporary dance theater performance by Black women and Black gender queer artists to rethink the linkages between coloniality, performance, erotics and Black liberation. Pétigny’s broader research continues to wade in Black experimentalisms in art, pedagogy and social practice that embody radical modes of being, long denied to Black peoples.
Pétigny’s work has been published in Commoning Ethnography, The Walker Art Center Magazine, Agitate! Unsettling Knowledges Journal and the Routledge International Handbook of Gender and Feminist Geographies. Her research has been generously supported by the Steven J. Schochet Endowment for Queer, Trans and Sexuality Studies; the Race, Indigeneity, Gender & Sexuality Studies Center; and The Center on Women, Gender and Public Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Pétigny’s collaborations with Black dance companies, art centers and networks of social-justice educators demonstrate a commitment to building dynamic spaces of connection and creative research. Within her classrooms, Pétigny supports students’ holistic growth as analytical thinkers, creative writers and changemakers.
Fall 2023 Courses
FIRST-YEAR LITERATURE SEMINAR
An introduction to literary study that helps students develop the skills necessary for college-level reading, writing, research and critical thinking. Through exposure to a variety of literary forms and genres, historical periods and critical approaches, students are taught how to read closely, argue effectively and develop a strong writing voice. The course is reading and writing intensive and organized around weekly assignments. There are no waivers for LAS-E101 except for transfer students who have taken an equivalent college course.
First-year Students are pre-registered for this course by the department.
Sophomore, Junior, Senior or Transfer Students register into the designated section(s).
Major Requirement | BFA
SEMINAR: HISTORY, HAUNTING, AND MEMORY
Michel-Rolph Trouillot proclaims, The past-or, more accurately, pastness-is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past. What is the relationship between history and haunting? How does the narration of troubling and troubled memories (or images of the future) draw attention to the gaps, assumptions, and limits of historical representation? Who is granted the power to tell stories and who is worthy of having stories told about them? How might texts, films, and other creative mediums not just represent about the dead, but actually conspire with them? The past has an ever-deepening relevancy to contemporary life, and the intimacies that structure our understanding(s) of the past, present, and future produce powerful terrains for study. This course engages these fraught terrains of historical narration; the absence presence of figures of the past; and the vexed representation of traumatic memory in social life. This course will center a wide range of texts, films, and other modes of cultural production that examine how history, haunting, and memory are contoured by of race, gender, sexuality, queerness, diaspora, colonialism, and temporality. Tacking between historiographic theory and literary, poetic, documentary, and ethnographic accounts of relations with the dead and other uncanny forces, we will wrestle with the silences, gaps, and erasures within particular historical sites and problematize representations of the past. We will pay particular attention to texts that highlight the incoherence and instability of the historical record; engage processes of suspension, seep, and spill; and demand nuance, in-betweenness, and queer temporality from our analyses.
Open to Sophomore, Junior, Senior or Graduate Students.
Spring 2024 Courses
POLITICS AND ETHICS OF REPRESENTATION
Introduces some of the complex challenges that confront those who engage with making meaning in the arts. The course begins by establishing an interdisciplinary vocabulary and methodology to address questions of ethics and representation in the arts. The second segment of the course interrogates specific case studies in the politics and ethics of representation. Case studies may be drawn from art, design, literature, music, performance or other forms of cultural production. The course will be run as a seminar with weekly reading assignments, regular writing assignments and in class discussion.
Preference is given to Global Arts and Cultures Students.
Major Requirement | MA Global Arts and Cultures
READINGS IN BLACK LIFE
Black life is lived in the context of all that attempts to stamp it out. Black life defies the norms of gender and sexuality. Black being is a creative enactment-it redefines space and time while building otherwise worlds. The course provides an engaging introduction to questions of Blackness and being through critical theory, literature, poetry, criticism, art, and performance. We will think Black life from the overlapping theoretical trajectories of Black Studies, Black Feminist Theory, Queer Studies, and Performance Studies. We will attend to how these fields have produced knowledge about Blackness and being and speculate about what forms of black life might still escape their grasp. We will re-evaluate existing understandings of Blackness; build theoretical frameworks for anti-blackness, diaspora, haunting, and decolonization; and trace what remains in the afterlives of slavery, colonialism, and genocide. All course conversations will be contextualized within contemporary movements for Black liberation and connected to experimental forms of Black cultural production.
Open to Sophomore, Junior, Senior or Graduate Students.