For this second 3 week section of the class, we’ve been discussing the violence attached to the process of invention we discussed over the course of our first 3 weeks. We’ve discussed the concept of social death and started to understand its constitutive elements–natal alienation, gratuitous violence, and generalized dishonor–as a way of developing our grasp of exactly what the world made Blackness to be. We’ve discussed the violence of ambivalence after reading “Seduction and the Ruses of Power” in Saidiya Hartman’s Scenes of Subjection, which compelled us to start thinking about how the fluidity of the slave-as-object creates a sort of liquid Blackness, abled to fill whatever vessel the antiblack world needs to fill at the moment, despite the many contradictions that come with that–e.g. how can one be a will-less object AND a willful (evil mastermind) agent as well? And we have talked about (or will talk about) the Red Summer of 1919 in relation to Charles Chestnutt’s documentary-esque novel, The Marrow of Tradition as a way of reminding ourselves that though these are abstract concepts and questions, they manifest in real time, in real life, in materially and physically horrifying ways–massacres, the destruction of entire communities, and bloodshed all deemed to be “necessary” for the “public good.” Think Tulsa. Think the Antiblack World as a whole.
All that in mind, your task here is similar to that of the first assignment: write a short paper, 600-750 words, about violence as we’ve come to understand it, being sure to engage with some of the course materials directly as you do–as was the case last time, you don’t have to engage every single assigned reading, but you do need to sustain some kind of engagement with any of the available readings, be it the novel, Scenes, or the concept of “social death.” You want to reflect on the nature of violence and how and where it manifests in relation to blackness: we know of the spectacular, real-world violence; and we also need to consider the symbolic, legal/juridical, and metaphysical orders of violence as well.
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