This year-long seminar explores quiet, rest, imagination, and play as essential for Black aliveness. What does it mean to imagine Black culture beyond resistance, Black labor buoyed by leisure, Black thought marked by hesitance, Black movements rooted in stillness? We take up these questions in light of Kevin Quashie’s contention in The Sovereignty of Quiet: “Blackness is always supposed to tell us something about race and racism, or about America, or violence and struggle and triumph or poverty and hopefulness. The determination to see blackness only through a social public lens, as if there were no inner life, is racist… and it practically thwarts other ways of reading.” So let us read otherwise.
In reflecting on the relationship between Black movement and stillness, we will consider how labor struggles are, at once, rest struggles. Here, we will take up Tricia Hershey’s critique of grind culture as we question the idea that the purpose of rest is to “recharge” and “refuel” to produce more "output to capitalism.” Engaging Black childhood studies, we will reckon with how play and games are no less important than education and study, and we will reflect on how celebrations of “Black excellence” can obscure Black exhaustion, vulnerability, and disability. As we consider the chronic weathering of Black bodies, we will investigate the importance of sleep and other forms of rest for intergenerational healing. Sleep deprivation, after all, is dream deprivation. But we will insist on dreaming… as the basis of collective organizing and intimate worldmaking.
Taken together, this series is experimental as much as interdisciplinary — practicing, playing, and imagining alongside a wide range of scholars, artists, and activists. If, as Toni Cade Bambara cautioned, “not all speed is movement,” then this seminar invites a slower approach to thinking and being in and beyond the academy.
Enrollment for this seminar is now closed. If you have any questions, please contact Dionne Worthy.
PLEASE NOTE: Photographs and recordings taken at Department of African American Studies events by anyone authorized by Princeton University may be used in publications, both electronic and print, at the discretion of the University and the Department of African American Studies.
Any individual, including visitors to campus, who requires accommodation should contact Dionne Worthy ([email protected]) at least one week in advance of the event.