Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature
Her writing on literature includes a book on Baudelaire, Marx, and Benjamin, Counterfeit Capital (Stanford, 2009). Her essays on lyric poetry, Marxist theories of labor, and Benjamin’s philosophy of history have appeared in Critical Inquiry, Diacritics, and Qui Parle. She is also the English translator of several works of French philosophy, including those by Jacques Derrida and Bernard Stiegler, Sarah Kofman, and Jean Paulhan. Her writing on photography includes numerous essays on historical and contemporary photography in Africa, published in Aperture, Autograph ABP, and History of Photography. She is currently completing a book manuscript entitled How to Write a Visual History of Liberation: Photography and Decolonial Imagination in Africa. The manuscript, based on field research carried out with photographers and in photography collections in Senegal and Benin, explores the relationship between photography and political imagination in francophone West Africa in the years immediately leading up to and following independence from French colonial rule, and was recently awarded a Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation (2013-2014).
Bajorek is also involved in activist collaborations and curatorial projects with partners in several different cities and countries in Africa. In 2010-2011, she was lead curator of Contemporary Africa on Screen (C.A.O.S.) at the South London Gallery. Her art writing and exhibition reviews have appeared in exhibition catalogues, journals, and online, on Africultures, Afriphoto, the Galerie du Jeu de Paume blog, and Africa Is a Country.
Before coming to Hampshire, Bajorek taught at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, where she was senior lecturer in cultural studies. She is currently a research associate in the Faculty of Art, Design, and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
The modern lyric has often been identified with extreme forms of language. But what does it mean for language to be extreme, to be the outlier or the limit case? Extreme with respect to what? In this course we will examine ideas about "extremity" and language through the corpuses of five major poets who wrote or who are writing in French: Charles Baudelaire, Stephane Mallarme, Aime Cesaire, Michel Deguy, and Edouard Glissant. How does the question of lyric extremity frame or bring out the tensions between autobiography, intimacy, and singularity and universalist claims? How are these claims connected with trauma and disaster? How to understand the tensions between ideas about lyric negativity and finitude (monolingualism, risk, chance) and ideas about lyric opening (translation, creolization, survival)? All texts will be made available in translation; students who are able to read in French will be strongly encouraged to do so. Practitioners as well as students taking critical and theoretical approaches to poetry are welcome. Creative as well as analytical responses to the poetry will be invited.
This course will interrogate concepts of the city and of urban imagination through literature and film set in or featuring cities both real and fictive. We will explore the city's paradoxical claims to modernity, as well as its postmodern and postcolonial transformations. Specific themes and problems will include the relationship between the city and capital; figures of the masses and the crowd; circulation and control; boredom and novelty; the aesthetic, psychosocial, and political significance of architectural structures; the rise of the megacity and post-industrial dystopias. Readings will be loosely organized around four cities--Paris, New York, Dakar, and Johannesburg--and may include Charles Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin, Giannina Braschi, Italo Calvino, Nafissatou Diallo, Langston Hughes, Ishmael Reed, Kgebetli Moele, Ivan Vladislavic, Walt Whitman. Films by Djibril Diop Mambety and Ousmane Sembene, District 9, and King Kong (1933).
This course will look at the relationship between Marxism and literature in diverse contexts, and will pose a series of questions about the relationship between the material conditions of production and cultural production more generally. Readings will be historical, exploring the links between Marxism, socialist movements, and literary form that evolve in the 19th century, and contemporary, looking at work by diverse writers and thinkers who have interrogated, in various ways through their work, the cultural logics of late capitalism. Possible readings in Baudelaire, Benjamin, Blanqui, Proudhon, Flaubert, Melville, Stuart Hall, Frederic Jameson, Fred Moten, and Edouard Glissant.
This course will explore irony as a literary trope and as a broader rhetorical, discursive, and psycho-social phenomenon. Often defined as "saying the opposite of what one means" or "saying one thing and meaning another," irony crosses literary genres, periods, and cultures to become entangled with philosophical inquiry, dialectical negativity, and social critique. We will ask how irony functions in relation to gender and race, paying particularly close attention to its adventures through camp, kitsch, queerness, and postmodern culture; we will ponder the ways irony pits voice against identity, text against image, poetry against prose; and we will challenge irony's reputation for political impotence, positing instead that it contains resources for political insurgency. Discussions will be based on the close reading and analysis of literature, philosophy, and perhaps some films: including Plato, Nietzsche, Shakespeare, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Brecht, Patrick Chamoiseau, Niq Mhlongo, Judith Butler, Achille Mbembe, Abderrahmane Sissako, and Fanta Regina Nacro.
This course will focus on a small, select number of photographs studied in significant depth. Making use of critical theories of reading and looking, we will examine photographs that are both canonical and non-canonical, from the earliest daguerreotypes in the 19th century to avant-garde experimentation in the 20th century to the expanding global image ecologies of the present. We will study the social, intellectual, and art histories of photography, interrogating concepts of visual representation and issues of technology, identity, and power, and employing the theoretical lenses of writers such as Benjamin, Kracauer, Malek Alloula, and Ariella Azoulay. Students will be required to assemble their own archive of photographs and texts, to develop skills in the digital humanities, and to compose close readings based on visual, theoretical and historical analyses.