Spring 2011

Theorizing the Black Atlantic

Listed in: Black Studies, as BLST-32


John E. Drabinski (Section 01)


[D] What happens to culture in the transition between Africa, Europe, and the Americas?  What new forms of subjectivity, community, and culture emerge in the Americas?  How do these new forms help us clarify the specifically African sense of "diaspora"?  How does the experience of "the black Atlantic" alter our understanding of history and the development of ideas?  In addressing these questions, this course examines themes of hybridity, double-consciousness, Modernity, and diaspora in contemporary philosophy and cultural theory.  Our attention will center on the work of Paul Gilroy, whose reflections on black Atlantic cultural formations have broken new theoretical ground over the past two decades. Gilroy's work will allow us to engage theoretically with the peculiar historical dynamics of the black Atlantic, which, in turn, enables us to attend at some depth to this particular diasporic consciousness through characterizations of literature, art, philosophy, and music.  Alongside Gilroy, we will read other core theoretical texts on the black Atlantic by Du Bois, Césaire, Fanon, Wright, Baldwin, and others. In order to establish context and some points of contrast, we will also read important texts on the philosophy of history and history of ideas by Hegel, Nietzsche, Benjamin, and Bhabha.  These varied reflections on the black Atlantic and the dynamics of cultural development help us understand the distinctive character of the African diaspora and its hybrid intellectual productions.

Spring semester.  Professor Drabinski.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011