Professor Mike Sell of IUP’s English Department delivered the keynote, “Ethics and Artifacts: The Poetic Encounter and #Black Lives Matter” at Florida Atlantic University's annual Comparative Studies Student Association conference.
The conference theme was “Crossings and Intersections.” In that spirit, Sell spoke of the importance of ethical self-reflection when reading poetry by African Americans. What, he asked, is the difference between a critic close-reading a difficult, obtuse poem and a police officer putting a choke-hold on an African American man selling cigarettes on a corner? Power, he argued, is part of every encounter with another, including the encounter with art; thus, we must consider our actions as readers and spectators in light of larger power dynamics in our society. To not do so is to fail our civic duties as educators, scholars, and citizens.
Department of English