Johnson to join scholars at Duke for Shondaland Symposium

ShondaLand is the production company of television screenwriter and producer Shonda Rhimes, whose current series Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder (for which she serves as executive producer) comprise the Thursday Night prime-time block on ABC. At the core of Rhimes’ productions are richly drawn, complex, contradictory Black Women and Women of Color who eschew traditional notions of Black and Female respectability. With the breakout success Scandal which featured Kerry Washington as the first Black Female lead of a Primetime drama since the late Teresa Graves starred in the short-lived Get Christie Love! (1974-1975), Rhimes has helped revolutionize the use of social media in the promotion of television and helped galvanize an unprecedented community of Black Women viewers that recall the groundbreaking work of critic Jacqueline Bobo a generation ago.

ShondaLand the Symposium brings together a group of women scholars working in the fields of History, Women’s Studies, Law, Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Black Diaspora Studies, and Media Studies to explore the broad implications of Rhimes’ work.

Co-Sponsored by the Forum for Scholars and Publics, the Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship, and the Durham County Library.

The event will begin with a watch party at Durham’s Full Frame Theater in the American Tobacco Campus on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 29, with a light reception starting at 7:30 p.m, and viewing party from 8:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m., where viewers can gather to watch and comment on the opening of the spring season of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away with Murder. The event is open to all, and we’ll have food and drink on hand.

On Friday, Jan. 30, we’ll have two panel discussions at the Forum for Scholars & Publics, in 011 Old Chemistry Building. A light lunch will be served for attendees between the two panels.

The event will be livestreamed, livetweeted, and is free and open to the public.

Johnson will present on the panel “You gotta testify because the booty don’t lie”: The (Il)Legality of Black Womanhood alongside Brittney Cooper, Rutgers University (Women’s and Gender Studies; Africana Studies); Martha Jones, University of Michigan (History); and Blair LM Kelley, North Carolina State University (History). The panel will be moderated by Karla FC Holloway, Duke University.

Panel description: This panel will examine the “equal protection clause” in the context of the intersectionality of Black Womanhood. In what ways are Black Women’s bodies protected and/or unprotected by the law? How are Black Women emboldened in the context of ShondaLand to protect, embody or undermine legal structures that won’t/don’t protect them?

For more information on the event: See also coverage by Entertainment Weekly here:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.