Frank B. Wilderson III: Afro-Pessimism and the Ruse of Analogy, Workshop

October 30, 2017
Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 9:30am to 11:30am
451 Hagerty Hall
Frank, wearing a black shirt, looks into the camera

Join acclaimed author and scholar Frank B. Wilderson III in discussion on Afro-Pessimism and the Ruse of Analogy. He will be giving a public lecture on the first of November, as well as hold a workshop for graduate students and interested faculty on the following morning, the second of November. RSVP is required in advance for the workshop.

"[The Afro-Pessimists argue] that violence toward the black person happens gratuitously, hence without former transgression, and even if the means of repression change (plantation was replaced by prison, etc.), that doesn’t change the structure of the repression itself. Finally ... a lot of repression happens on the level of representation, which then infiltrates the unconscious of both the black and the white person. Since these structures are ontological, they cannot be resolved (there is no way of changing this unless the world as we know it comes an end…); this is why the [Afro-Pessimist relational schema] would be seen as the only true antagonism (while other repressive relations like class and gender would take place on the level of conflict—they can be resolved, hence they are not ontological).”
"[The Afro-Pessimists] theorize the workings of civil society as contiguous with slavery, and discuss the following as bearing witness to this contiguity: the inability of the slave (or the being-for-the-captor) to translate space into place and time into event; the fact that the slave remains subject to gratuitous violence (rather than violence contingent on transgression); the natal alienation and social death of the slave.”
"Afro-Pessimists are framed as such…because they theorize an antagonism, rather than a conflict—The solution to the black presence in the white world is not to retrieve and celebrate our African heritage, as was one of the goals of the Negritude project. For Fanon, a revolution that would destroy civil society as we know it would be a more adequate response. I think Afro-Pessimists such as Saidiya Hartman, Hortense Spillers, and David Marriott would argue there is no place for the black, only prosthetics, techniques which give the illusion of a relationality in the world.” From Frank B. Wilderson, incognegro.org.

Frank B. Wilderson III is a professor of African American Studies, Drama and Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of two widely acclaimed books, Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid (South End Press, 2008; Duke University Press, 2015) and Red, White and Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms (Duke University Press, 2010). An award-winning writer, poet, scholar, activist and filmmaker, Wilderson is the recipient of the 2008 American Book Award, for Incognegro, the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Nonfiction, the Eisner Prize for Creative Achievement of the Highest Order, the Maya Angelou Award for Best Fiction Portraying the Black Experience in America, the Judith Stronach Award for Poetry and the Jerome Foundation Artists and Writers Award.

A livestream of the public talk will be available on 5:30pm on November 1st. To access, please follow this link

Participants in the November 2nd workshop must RSVP and receive confirmation of their RSVP. Readings have been pre-circulated. For any information regarding this event, please contact Frank Barchiesi at barchiesi.1@osu.edu.

The event has been organized by the Department of Comparative Studies; co-sponsored by the Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Department of Geography, the Human Rights in Transit Discovery Theme and the Reading Group on Afro-Pessimism and Black Radical Thought. 

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