Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Visual Studies
Professor Bajorek’s courses explore topics and questions in the fields of literature, philosophy, contemporary art, and photography. Recent courses have asked what poets such as Charles Baudelaire and Claudia Rankine have to say to Marx, how stupidity gains currency in contemporary art, and why writers are so obsessed with photography. She welcomes Division II and Division III advising requests from students working in all fields of the humanities or in visual and cultural studies, as well as from practitioners whose work has a significant theoretical or historical research component.
Her research on literature and philosophy has included a book on Baudelaire, Marx, and Benjamin; essays and courses on French and Francophone lyric poetry; Caribbean and African literature and film; and Marxism and postcolonial theory, as well as several book-length translations of French philosophy. Her work on photography represents over a decade of research in West African collections with a geographic and geocultural focus on Senegal and Benin, as well as collaborations with photographers, museum professionals, and cultural heritage professionals to advance preservation in collections in multiple cities and countries in Africa (some of which can be found here: https://www.resolutionphoto.org/). Her research on contemporary art has taken the form of scholarly articles, exhibition reviews, and catalog essays. In addition, she was lead curator of C.A.O.S. (Contemporary Africa on Screen) at the South London Gallery. Her latest book, Unfixed: Photography and Decolonial Imagination in West Africa, is forthcoming from Duke University Press.
She has received fellowships or grants from numerous foundations and institutions including the Mellon Foundation, the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, and the London Centre for Arts and Cultural Exchange. She has also been a recipient of the Creative Capital/Arts Writers Grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (2013-2014).
She will be in residence at the Clark Art Institute as a research fellow in spring 2019, where she will be working on a new project on representations of migration.
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.