Black Feminism and the Art of Being Human (W/ Comp Lit 502 & GWSS 590C)
This course will focus on black female subjectivity in relation to social formations of the human, which has been conceptualized as the central subject of Western modernity, the product of discourse, the precondition for political personhood. We will engage black feminism as an intellectual project that has developed around the question of “being human”: for subjects who have been socially constituted as enslaved commodities, as objects of Western man’s knowledge—as beings and bodies dispossessed of humanity—what has being human come to mean? How have black feminist analytics contributed to the development of alternative versions of the human? Which concepts, methods, and philosophies have influenced the way black feminist thinkers engage the question of historical time, or the manner in which the past (of early Western modernity and New World slavery, or Jim Crow segregation) becomes knowable? Assigned reading in this course likely will include the work of Michel Foucault, Hortense Spillers, Sylvia Wynter, Uri McMillan, Christina Sharpe, Alexander Weheliye, Octavia Butler, and Toni Morrison.