Alyssa Collins, assistant professor of English Language and Literature and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina, has been awarded an Octavia E. Butler Fellowship by the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens for her project entitled “Cellular Blackness: Octavia E. Butler’s Posthuman Ontologies.” Collins will receive support to spend a full year working with Butler’s archival papers, which is housed by The Huntington. (Next up, we hope: a residency on Mars.)
Collins’s project will use Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy as a jumping-off point to explore Butler’s interest in genetics, evolution, and cellularity—taking specific interest in Butler’s engagement with the story of Henrietta Lacks and her representation of cellular representation as a mode of Black feminist survival.
Said Collins, “There are four areas in the Butler archive that are fundamental to my research: subject files and research materials, commonplace notebooks and notecards, drafts, and correspondence . . . Given the ambivalent presentation and voice of some of Butler’s novels and characters, Butler’s notations—information stowed in newspaper margins, on notecards, and as floating ideas on commonplace notebook pages—offer keys to how we might think about the intersections of her work and that of the scientific discourse of the period in which she wrote.”
[via The Huntington]