'Reading the Black Enlightenment' talk set for Nov. 3

October 27, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- At 12:30 p.m. Nov. 3, Surya Parekh, postdoctoral fellow in the Africana Research Center at Penn State, will present “Affirmations of Blackness: Reading the Black Enlightenment,” in Room 102 of the Kern Building.

Recent scholarship in the Black Radical Tradition argues that the legacies and inheritances of the Enlightenment might be interpreted as always already in relation to blackness. This presentation explores this claim by reading two popular 18th century texts against each other: Immanuel Kant’s "Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime" and Phillis Wheatley’s "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral." Framing these texts as sharing an Enlightenment discourse, this presentation shows that Kant’s work covers a complex moment in which the comportment of black women within the "deepest slavery" is represented as one of respect and submission. The presentation turns to Phillis Wheatley’s poetry to respond. What lessons does Wheatley’s philosophizing Lyrical I teach us – about the provenance of the Enlightenment, 18th century Afro-Diasporic intellectual production and the politics of fraternity – speaking to a universal from within slavery and written from, if the accounts are correct, a comportment of respect and submission?

This event is a part of the Comparative Literature Luncheon lecture series, a weekly, informal lunchtime gathering of students, faculty and other members of the University community. Each week the event begins at 12:15 p.m. – participants are encouraged to bring lunch; coffee and tea are free. At 12:30 p.m. there will be a 20-minute presentation, by a visitor or a local speaker, on a topic related to any humanities discipline. All students, faculty, colleagues and friends are welcome. Jon Abel (jea17@psu.edu) and Shuang Shen (sxs1075@psu.edu) are coordinators for the series. For a full list of Comparative Literature lunches, visit http://complit.la.psu.edu/news-luncheon.shtml.

Last Updated January 09, 2015