Performances & Events


“Rhapsody & Ruin: ‘Porgy & Bess’ and the Story of America,” Dr. Daphne Brooks

Department of Musicology Ethel V. Curry Distinguished Lecture

April 5, 2024 | 4:00 pm

Watkins Lecture Hall
Earl V. Moore Building
1100 Baits Dr
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Free - no tickets required

This lecture mines the archive in order to trace the legacies of racial performance and racial and gender violence made manifest in 1935’s Porgy and Bess, one of the most famous and influential American operas of all time. By way of archival materials, it interrogates the entanglements of the opera’s architects – DuBose Heyward and George and Ira Gershwin – with the afterlives of slavery. It considers the lasting impact said entanglements have had on the music of Porgy and Bess as well as the aesthetic strategies of generations of Black women genius culture workers navigating the Gershwin and Heyward archive.

DAPHNE A. BROOKS is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of African American Studies, American Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Music at Yale University. She is the author of Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 (Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2006); Jeff Buckley’s Grace (New York: Continuum, 2005) and Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound (Harvard University, February 2021). Brooks has authored numerous articles on race, gender, performance and popular music culture as well as the liner notes for The Complete Tammi Terrell (Universal A&R, 2010), for Take a Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia for Prince’s Sign O’ The Times deluxe box set and for Omnivore Records reissues of Nina Simone’s early releases on Bethlehem. Brooks’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, The Guardian, and other outlets.

This program is organized by the Department of Musicology at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

Free Lecture Talk Interdisciplinary Research Scholarship North Campus