Dr Hannah Durkin
Lecturer in Literature & Film
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7760
PhD American Studies, University of NottinghamMA American Studies, University of NottinghamBA English Literature & History, Lancaster University
Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow, University of Nottingham (2013-16)
Postdoctoral Co-director, Centre for Research in Race and Rights, University of Nottingham (2015-16)
Caribbean Studies Association
Collegium for African American Research
Society for Caribbean Studies
Schools Liaison Officer
Black Atlantic art, anthropology, autobiography, dance and cinema
My current book project examines Black and Jewish women’s contributions to mid-century ethnographic and autobiographical writing, cinema and modern dance. Focusing on African Americans Zora Neale Hurston, Eslanda Goode Robeson and Katherine Dunham, Dunham’s Jewish and Ukrainian-born former secretary Maya Deren, and Trinidadian-American Pearl Primus, who had a Jewish grandfather and husband, I show how ethnographic film became a key device for Black and Jewish women seeking to revise racialised and gendered scientific and cultural paradigms. In so doing, I trace overlooked links between the emergence of modernism and anthropology and offer a new reading of modernism that rectifies occlusions of European, male and urban configurations. The project has two broad aims: to recover the work of leading Black and Jewish women artist-anthropologists and to chart connections between their fieldwork and their art. I map for the first time the creative techniques that they devised in Black communities in the US South, the Caribbean and Africa to facilitate cross-cultural exchange. I then show how these women, excluded by sexual and racial barriers from pursuing conventional academic careers, transferred these techniques to cinema, dance and literature to create radical revisionings of Black women’s identities on stage, screen and in writing.
My previous research centred mainly on literary and cinematic representations of mid-century Black dance. My doctorate, which is now a forthcoming book contracted to the University of Illinois Press, examined the international film careers and writings of Josephine Baker (1906-1975) and Katherine Dunham (1909-2006), the two most critically and commercially successful Black women dancers of the twentieth century.
With Celeste-Marie Bernier (University of Edinburgh), I also recently co-edited Visualising Slavery: Art Across the African Diaspora (Liverpool University Press, 2016), which stemmed from a conference at the University of Oxford, and which brings together artists and academics across Art History, Visual Culture, Slavery Studies, African American Studies, Black British Studies and African Diaspora Studies.
My future research seeks to map the pioneering contribution of African, African American and Caribbean artists to mid-century British visual culture. It traces their wide-ranging influence on British art, cinema, dance, television and theatre to demonstrate that Black Atlantic cultural production had a crucial artistic influence on inter- and post-war Britain. The project has two broad aims: to rectify the Black Atlantic’s enduring occlusion from British cultural histories, and to chart such artists’ two-way engagement with the nation’s colonial culture immediately prior to and during the British Empire’s decline.
TeachingSEL1030: Close Reading
SEL2206: Contemporary Cultures
SEL3388: Reading Contemporary Cultures
- Bernier CM, Rice A, Durkin HK. Inside the Invisible: Slavery and Memory in the Works of Lubaina Himid (1985-2017). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2019. In Preparation.
- Durkin HK. Frederick Douglass in the Age of Moving Pictures. In: Bernier,CM; Lawson,B, ed. Pictures and Power Imaging Frederick Douglass. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 2017, pp.231-254.
- Durkin HK. Josephine Baker and Katherine Dunham: Dances in Literature and Cinema. Urbana: Illinois University Press, 2018. In Preparation.
- Bernier CM, Durkin HK. 'Inside the Invisible': African Diasporic Artists Visualise Transatlantic Slavery. In: Bernier, CM; Durkin, HK, ed. Visualising Slavery: Art Across the African Diaspora. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2016, pp.1-13.
- Durkin HK. Haitians are demanding democracy, but foreign interests prefer the status quo. The Conversation, 2016. Available at: https://theconversation.com/haitians-are-demanding-democracy-but-foreign-interests-prefer-the-status-quo-53592.
- Durkin HK. 'The Greatest Negro Monuments on Earth': Richmond Barthé's Memorials to Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines. In: Bernier,CM;Durkin,HK, ed. Visualising Slavery: Art Across the African Diaspora. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 2016, pp.184-200.
- Bernier CM, Durkin HK, ed. Visualising Slavery: Art Across the African Diaspora. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2016.
- Durkin HK. A new government in Haiti, but foreign interest still rules. The Conversation, 2015. Available at: https://theconversation.com/a-new-government-in-haiti-but-foreign-interest-still-rules-36319.
- Hills P, Buick KP, Durkin HK. Roundtable - Renee Ater, Remaking Race and History: The Sculpture of Meta Warrick Fuller. Journal of American Studies 2014, 48(3), 1-5.
- Durkin HK. Cinematic ‘Pas de Deux’: The Dialogue between Maya Deren’s Experimental Filmmaking and Talley Beatty’s Black Ballet Dancer in A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945). Journal of American Studies 2013, 47(2), 385-403.
- Durkin HK. Remembering Slavery on Screen: Paul Robeson in The Song of Freedom (1936). Slavery & Abolition 2013, 34(2), 252-65.
- Durkin HK. ‘It’s All the Way You Look at It, You know’: Reading Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson’s Film Career. New Review of Film and Television Studies 2012, 10(2), 230-45.
- Durkin HK. Dance Anthropology and the Impact of 1930s Haiti on Katherine Dunham’s Scientific and Artistic Consciousness. International Journal of Francophone Studies 2011, 14(1-2), 123-42.
- Durkin HK. ‘Tap Dancing on the Racial Boundary’: Racial Representation and Artistic Experimentation in Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson’s Stormy Weather Performance. Irish Journal of American Studies 2010, 2, Online.
- Durkin HK. Zora Neale Hurston's visual and textual portrait of Middle Passage survivor Oluale Kossola/Cudjo Lewis. Slavery & Abolition 2017, 38(3), 601-619.
- Durkin H. Interview with Lubaina Himid. In: Himid, L; Bernier, CM; Rice, A; Durkin, H, ed. Inside the Invisible: Slavery and Memory in the Works of Lubaina Himid (1985-2017). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2019. In Preparation.
- Durkin H. Zora Neale Hurston's Florida on Screen. In: Farebrother,R; Thaggert,M, ed. The Cambridge History of Harlem Renaissance Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019. In Preparation.