Dr. Andrea Douglas : TBD
Leslie M. Scott-Jones: Afropessimism & Repair
In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower
In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower takes readers from Hartford to Chicago and from Phoenix to Manhattan, revealing the increasingly parasitic relationship between universities and our cities. Through eye-opening conversations with city leaders, low-wage workers tending to students’ needs, and local activists fighting encroachment, scholar Davarian L. Baldwin makes clear who benefits from unchecked university power—and who is made vulnerable.
In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower is a wake-up call to the reality that higher education is no longer the ubiquitous public good it was once thought to be. But as Baldwin shows, there is an alternative vision for urban life, one that necessitates a more equitable relationship between our cities and our universities.
Chicago’s New Negroes
As early-twentieth-century Chicago swelled with an influx of at least 250,000 new black urban migrants, the city became a center of consumer capitalism, flourishing with professional sports, beauty shops, film production companies, recording studios, and other black cultural and communal institutions. Davarian Baldwin argues that this mass consumer marketplace generated a vibrant intellectual life and planted seeds of political dissent against the dehumanizing effects of white capitalism. Pushing the traditional boundaries of the Harlem Renaissance to new frontiers, Baldwin identifies a fresh model of urban culture rich with politics, ingenuity, and entrepreneurship.
Baldwin explores an abundant archive of cultural formations where an array of white observers, black cultural producers, critics, activists, reformers, and black migrant consumers converged in what he terms a “marketplace intellectual life.” Here the thoughts and lives of Madam C. J. Walker, Oscar Micheaux, Andrew “Rube” Foster, Elder Lucy Smith, Jack Johnson, and Thomas Dorsey emerge as individual expressions of a much wider spectrum of black political and intellectual possibilities. By placing consumer-based amusements alongside the more formal arenas of church and academe, Baldwin suggests important new directions for both the historical study and the constructive future of ideas and politics in American life.
Why does a perpetual cycle of slavery—in all its political, intellectual, and cultural forms—continue to define the Black experience? And why is anti-Black violence such a predominant feature not only in the United States but around the world?
Combining trenchant philosophy with lyrical memoir, Wilderson presents the tenets of an increasingly prominent intellectual movement (Afropessimism) that sees Blackness through the lens of perpetual slavery. Drawing on works of philosophy, literature, film, and critical theory, he shows that the social construct of slavery, as seen through pervasive anti-Black subjugation and violence, is hardly a relic of the past but the very engine that powers our civilization, and that without this master-slave dynamic, the calculus bolstering world civilization would collapse.
Winner of the 2008 American Book Award
Winner of the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award for Creative Non-Fiction
Recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship
In 1995, a South African journalist informed Frank B. Wilderson III, one of only two American members to hold elected office in the African National Congress (ANC), that President Nelson Mandela considered him “a threat to national security.” Wilderson was asked to comment. Incognegro is that “comment.” It is also his response to a question posed five years later in a California university classroom: “How come you came back?” Although Wilderson recollects his turbulent life as an expatriate during the furious last gasps of apartheid, Incognegro is at heart a quintessentially American story.
Red, White & Black
Red, White & Black is a provocative critique of socially engaged films and related critical discourse. Offering an unflinching account of race and representation, Frank B. Wilderson III asks whether such films accurately represent the structure of U.S. racial antagonisms. That structure, he argues, is based on three essential subject positions: that of the White (the “settler,” “master,” and “human”), the Red (the “savage” and “half-human”), and the Black (the “slave” and “non-human”). Wilderson contends that for Blacks, slavery is ontological, an inseparable element of their being. From the beginning of the European slave trade until now, Blacks have had symbolic value as fungible flesh, as the non-human (or anti-human) against which Whites have defined themselves as human. Just as slavery is the existential basis of the Black subject position, genocide is essential to the ontology of the Indian. Both positions are foundational to the existence of (White) humanity.