Cycle Expanded Practices All Over

Fred Moten

Black Preformance: Violence with Fred Moten

The seminar begins with a reading of Hannah Arendt, Frantz Fanon and Emmanuel Levinas on violence. This is a matter left unfinished in my 2018 book, The Universal Machine. Their work will be seen against the backdrop of work by Allen Feldman, Denise Ferreira da Silva and Hortense Spillers. The lens, and the general question of attitude through which this focus is to be achieved, is provided by Walter Benjamin’s Kritik der Gewalt (“Critique of Violence”) and a selection of the vast criticism of that work beginning with Werner Hamacher’s indispensable text, “Afformative, Strike.” But what if the lens itself comes most clearly into focus when it is framed by some work of W. E. B. Du Bois that anticipates (John Brown), accompanies (Darkwater) and follows (Black Reconstruction in America) Benjamin’s text. This palimpsestic approach will require some considerations of angles and angels. We’ll attempt to keep topographical faith with the texts, reading closely and slowly in concert, so that we can see if the preformative force of black study makes precise descriptions of violence a bit more possible. We’ll talk a little about the discourse of violence in black popular music, especially blues and trap music, which allows us to begin to try to sharpen a distinction between violence and brutality. We might also look at certain brutal uses/reductions of violence in black studies, and to think, in a way that isn’t directed towards indicting anybody, about what it means when the murder and premature death that is visited upon working class black people is treated by bourgeois academics, such as ourselves, as if they were microaggressions directed against us. We can talk about the difference between black artists and thinkers being tired of seeing images of the execution of black people and working-class black people being tired of being executed. We can speak about this in terms of the problematic of unrest and to consider unrest, which is blackness as the anthological condition, as a response to the brutality that responds to it. What’s at stake when the lumpen intellectuality of black study is folded into the academic enterprise of black studies? We should ask this question not from outside of black studies, and not against any of its practitioners but from within it, as a loving and devoted violation of it by its practitioners.

Fred Moten teaches Black Studies, Critical Theory, Performance Studies, and Poetics in the Departments of Performance Studies and Comparative Literature at the New York University. This seminar is part of the cycle Expanded Practices All Over, curated by Paula Caspão. Centre for Theatre Studies, in partnership with TBA.

Registration: with biography (150 words) and motivation paragraph (250 words), until September 15th.

Notification of acceptance will be sent until 20 September, confirmed after payment of the registration fee: 20eur.

Dates: 3rd to 5th October, 2022
Schedule: 2:30PM to 5:30 PM
Venue: TBA – Sala de Ensaios

Data de início: 05/10/2022 12:00 am


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