Scholar Fierce: Boston Evening, Italian Nights

I tend to not have difficulty traveling alone. However, long flights are not for the faint of heart or the weary in body or spirit. I got to the Florence hotel safely and all – after meeting so many members of the grounds crew in Munich & Florence. (Disability builds community. I’m telling you.)

There is a special kind of silence that occurs after the door closes to a single hotel room. There is no longer the chatter of passers-by, or the hullabaloo of desk clerks and porters, or the banging of bags, or the dinging of elevators, or the sound of cars, or the thickness of exhaust-filled air. Sometimes this is a welcome silence. Other times, it reminds me that I am alone in a strange city.

That day, I took a small trip outside with the scooter (after a nap) and tried to get a sense of my environment. I traveled a small ways south close to the river, further into town. That quiet I faced in my hotel room echoed outside. It wasn’t an issue of its sonics but of its contemplative spirit. It felt gentle, far away. It did not feel like a Tuesday.

At night, I looked up on tip-toe out to Florence, the Fiume Arno to the west and wondered what the Black Portraitures conference would bring.

About TAPPhD

Therí A. Pickens received her undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature from Princeton University (P'05) and her PhD in Comparative Literature from UCLA (2010). Her research focuses on Arab American and African American literatures and cultures, Disability Studies, philosophy, and literary theory. She recently published her first book, New Body Politics (Routledge, 2014), which investigates the role of the material body in constructing social and political critique. Her critical work has appeared in Disability Studies Quarterly, Al-Jadid, Journal of Canadian Literature, Al-Raida, and, the ground-breaking collection, Blackness and Disability: Critical Examinations and Cultural Interventions. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of English at Bates College. She is also a creative writer. Her poetry has appeared in Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire, Save the Date, and Disability Studies Quarterly. Her drama has been performed at the NJ State Theater. She offers courses on Arab American and African American literature. In her introductory courses, she seeks to provide students with information and skills that will enable and empower them to critically and constructively engage difficult topics like race, sexuality, gender, disability, and class. In her upper division courses, she pushes students to synthesize their knowledge from other classes and expand their critical thinking repertoires.
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