It’s official: ShondaLand has been deemed worthy of intricate academic study.
Duke University has announced a symposium on Jan. 29 and 30 which will explore Shonda Rhimes’ impact on mainstream television. Rhimes, of course, is the mind behind ABC’s TGIT line-up, from creating Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal to producing the new hit show How to Get Away With Murder.
According to a release, the symposium will explore Rhimes’ impact through “her inclusion of richly drawn, complex black female characters such as Olivia Pope.” Titled “ShondaLand, the Symposium,” it will bring together female scholars from various fields—law, history, cultural studies, women’s studies, gender and sexuality studies, black diaspora studies, and media studies—to talk about the implications of what Rhimes has done.
After putting on a watch party, which will consist of the season premieres of all three ABC shows, the next day will debut a panel titled “I Woke Up Like This: Desire & Respectability in ShondaLand,” which will look at “black women and desire, and how respectability might stifle sexuality.”
A second panel—”You Gotta Testify Because the Booty Don’t Lie: The (Il)Legality of Black Womanhood”—will then “examine the ways black women’s bodies are, and are not, protected by the law and how women, in the context of ShondaLand, might be emboldened to challenge the status quo,” according to the release.
The event is free and open to the public.