Book Salon: Emilie Boone's A NIMBLE ARC: James Van Der Zee and Photography

Tuesday, April 9, 2024 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm
Word Up Community Bookshop Librería Comunitaria
2113 Amsterdam Ave.
New York, NY 10032


Join Word Up for a book salon honoring Emilie Boone and her new book A Nimble ARC: James Van Der Zee and Photography, about the renowned Harlem Renaissance photographer with professors Janée Moses & Laurie Woodard. The conversation will be moderated by Vanessa K. Valdés, author of Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg.

This event is a $5 suggested donation ticket with 30 max attendees. Please register in advance.

In compliance with Word Up Community Safety guidelines, all attendees for this event must wear a mask inside.

Word Up Community Bookshop is located at 2113 Amsterdam Ave. (& 165th St.) in Washington Heights, NYC. You can take the 1 train to 168th St and the A/C train to 163rd or 168th  St.


While James Van Der Zee is widely known and praised for his studio portraits from the Harlem Renaissance era, much of the diversity and expansive reach of his work has been overlooked. From the major role his studio played for decades photographing ordinary people and events in the Harlem community to the inclusion of his photographs in the landmark Harlem On My Mind exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1969, Van Der Zee was a foundational Black photographer whose work illustrates the shifting ways photography serves as a constitutive force within Black life. In A Nimble Arc, Emilie Boone considers Van Der Zee's photographic work over the course of the twentieth century, showing how it foregrounded aspects of Black daily life in the United States and in the larger African diaspora. Boone argues that Van Der Zee's works exist at the crossroads of art and the vernacular, challenging the distinction between canonical art photographs and the kind of output common to commercial photography studios. Boone's account recasts our understanding not only of this celebrated figure but of photography within the arc of quotidian Black life.


Emilie Boone is an assistant professor of African American/African Diaspora Arts in the Department of Art History at New York University. She researches and teaches the art and visual culture of the African Diaspora with a focus on vernacular photography and global encounters. 

Janée Moses, Assistant Professor of English, specializes in African American Literature, 20th-century black expressive cultures, and oral history theory and methodology. Her current book project is an intertextual study of black women’s life writing and performances that combines extraordinary pursuits and ordinary experiences to highlight the fullness of their lives. Her writing appears in publications including Rejoinder and BOMB Magazine. An established oral historian, Moses serves as the Director of BOMB Magazine's Oral History Project, preserving the narratives of black visual artists in America.

Laurie Woodard began her professional career as a dancer with the Dance Theater of Harlem and completed her PhD in History and African American Studies at Yale University. She is an Associate Professor of History and Black Studies at The City College of New York. Her research focuses upon the intersection between the cultural and political realms and employs interdisciplinary methodologies drawing from cultural and sociopolitical history, critical race theory, and women and gender studies. Her work, which has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Mellon Foundation, and PSC-CUNY, has appeared in The Journal of African American History, The New York Times, and American Quarterly. She is the author of A Real Negro Girl: Fredi Washington and the New Negro Renaissance (Oxford University Press, 2024). 

Vanessa K. Valdés is the Associate Provost for Community Engagement at The City College of New York. She is the author and editor of several books, including Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg.

Word Up Community Safety Guidelines

MASKING POLICY: All attendees ages 2 and older must wear a mask at all times when indoors at the store at Word Up and Recirculation.

CANCELLATION POLICY: Word Up Community Bookshop reserves the right to cancel events for any reason, including but not limited to safety concerns.

CODE OF CONDUCT: Please note Word Up has a zero tolerance policy for harassment or intimidation of any kind during any event, virtual or in-person. Please read our Safe Space Policy for more information. Anyone violating these rules will be expelled from the event at the discretion of the organizers. Please report all harassment to immediately.

PHOTOS & RECORDING: Events may be recorded, and video and photos may be posted on our website, social media, and elsewhere. If you would prefer not to be visible, please let a Word Up team member know. 

PRIVACY: Registrants will be added to the Word Up mailing list. Your contact information will never be shared or sold. You may unsubscribe or update your subscription at any time.

PHYSICAL ACCESSIBILITY: Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria is a fully wheelchair-accessible space with one ADA-compliant ramp from the street level to the store. Some of our bookcases and tables are on wheels and can be moved to provide additional access. Our visitor bathroom is wheelchair accessible and gender neutral. Our events are mic'd for sound. Free ASL interpretation is available for most programs upon request; please email to request interpretation as early as possible. The space is not scent or chemical free but we do our best to minimize the use of chemicals and scents throughout the space and use nontoxic materials whenever possible. If you have specific questions about the space or how an event can be made more accessible to you, please do not hesitate to contact us at

A Nimble ARC: James Van Der Zee and Photography By Emilie Boone Cover Image
ISBN: 9781478024903
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Duke University Press - September 29th, 2023

Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg By Vanessa K. Valdés Cover Image
ISBN: 9781438465142
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: State University of New York Press - January 2nd, 2018