Media, culture, and politics from an aesthetic-materialist's perspective.

Monday, August 27, 2007

To Be a Problem

My friend Alexis Gumbs is offering a free online course with the support of community and Duke University resources. Riffing on Du Bois and looking forward to the next generation of queer black radicalisms, the course is titled "To Be a Problem: Outcast Subjectivity and Black Literary Production." The syllabus includes readings and related media by Paul Beatty, Michelle Cliff, Toni Morrison, The Roots, Natasha Tretheway, and other artists and dreamers.

Like my own work on black pulp fiction, Alexis is concerned to retrieve the historical and cultural frames that enable what might be called resistance publishing -- creative acts of black radical meaning-making. Where my archive tends toward masculinist stories of life on the street, Alexis's is decidedly feminist, queer, and self-consciously political. Despite these obvious differences, our work has something vital in common: a desire to recover and reinvent radical strands of late-twentieth-century black social imaginaries. Ours is a literary-materialist project of great historical depth and infinite utopian-imaginative potential.

Alexis's decision to offer this course online is an act of radical pedagogy. It's truly the first step we, as scholars, can do to honor what black radicals and activists have always pushed for: bringing knowledge, resources, and opportunities of learning to the people.
I encourage you to visit the online version of "To Be a Problem" here. If you'd like to participate in the online discussion of course materials, please read Alexis's introduction (copied below) and get in touch with her ASAP.


Welcome! This is the online home of a course entitled To Be A Problem: Outcast
Subjectivity and Black Literary Production. As Audre Lorde, June Jordan and Fred Moten teach us, all knowledge belongs to the people. This is an effort to steal the force out of mechanisms through which the private University privileges itself as a site of "knowledge production". Since we all know that learning happens everywhere this FREE online version of a course that will be taught this fall at Duke University invites you to participate in an interactive process of reading and creating. Look for bi-weekly posts on the materials listed and weekly writing assignments. Please read and write along with us. (Take advantage of this opportunity to havethe infinitely-divided attention of a queerblackradical nerd for three months!) If you'd like to participate please send your email address and a sentence about your intention to

No comments: