American Speaker Series Presents J. Kameron Carter "Black Rapture: Wynter's Poetics of the Earth"

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

7:00 PM

9:00 PM

The Pink Parlor at Duke's East Campus


"In a recent correspondence with Carol Boyce Davis, Sylvia Wynter has said that all of her life she’s been writing one long poem, venturing an extended poetics of black social life from the zone of lack. There’s a relay between blackness and lackness that thinking with Wynter I want to take up in this talk, doing so by way of Black Metamorphosis, a 900+page unpublished work that Wynter labored on over the decade of the 1970s. I find in this work an early statement of such poetics, a long rapturous poem.

More specifically, I argue here that Metamorphosis offers a poetics of blackness as underness, what some might call lack, or as she puts it a poetics of 'the underlife.' This is a Mackey-like Mu-poetics, an ecopoetics of the earth, a vernacular, Sycorax-like movement of spirit from the site of lack and indeed as lack itself but, as William Pope.L might say, 'a lack worth having.'

This underness of being under and on and with the earth is an otherworldliness that is a this-earthliness, an alternative practice or the sacred. Such practice, following Wynter, connects with 'enthusiasm in the religious sense of the term,' where enthusiasm bespeaks being more and less than oneself, contagions with the divine in spirit possession, life beyond and that ruptures notions of property, propriety, and sovereignty or self-possession. More still in the religious sense, enthusiasm bespeaks the ecstatic, being raptured or caught up or carried out, of being out, maybe mad, transported from earth to cosmos, earth to heaven. In thinking with Wynter, I want to think about the enthusiastic condition of (b)lackness, that rupture or quantum fold within a world of racially gendered capitalism wherein one glimpses a poetics of black performance as 'black rapture.'"

J. Kameron Carter is Associate Professor of Theology, English, and African American Studies at Duke University and the author of Race: A Theological Account (Oxford University Press, 2008).

The Pink Parlor at Duke's East Campus
First Floor, East Duke Building, Durham
UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106 | Accessibility


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