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Hoping to bring academics and ordinary citizens together, graduate students will address current issues in the black community during a conference tomorrow and Saturday. The conference, entitled "Theory, African American Studies and Black Community," is co-sponsored by the University's Afro-American Studies Program and the Center for the Study of Black Literature and Culture. The conference will include presentations based on more than 20 graduate student papers examining black popular culture, such as "Toni Morrison and the Body as Text." In addition, keynote speeches will be delivered by black scholars Wahneema Lublano and Marcellus Blount. Lublano, an assistant professor of English at Princeton University, has recently worked on the relationship in popular culture between the academic and non-academic community. Blount, currently an associate professor of English at Columbia University, taught at the University last year through an arrangement with the Center for the Study of Black Literature and Culture. According to Stephen Best, a doctoral candidate in English at the University and member of the conference's organizing committee, planning for the event began more than a year ago. "We conceptually wanted to look at what the consequences of theory were for the relationship between the academic and non-academic black community," Best said. "In addition, we wanted to look at emerging identity politics of sexuality and gender in the space of African American studies." Graduate students representing more than 15 schools from across the country will deliver papers at the conference. Conference registration takes place tomorrow and Saturday at 8:30 a.m. in Steinberg Dietrich Hall, room 351. The cost is $5 and PennCard holders will be admitted free of charge. The conference panels run from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a one hour break for lunch.

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