Instructor: Dr. Butler
Office Hours: By Appointment
Zoom ID: 818 608 7210
Blackness waits at the door. It sits in the room. It seeps into crevices. It disrupts stable sensibilities. It is the abyss. It is an overwhelming presence of life and the beyond. And it waits. This course will explore many presentations of Blackness as an ontology, material essence, and tangible modality. In doing so, this course will not only explore onto-materiality of Blackness, but present a case for it as an integral framework to engage posthumanism’s proclivity to emphasizes animal studies and ecology while holding fast to liberalism’s damaging modes of uncritical inclusivity. This is important to the state of the theological experiment as James Cone insisted Blackness is the key to global salvation over 50 years ago. With recent moves to decenter human exceptionalism, shifts in focus to future realities, and intentional re-imaginings of the human-creature-divine relationship. It is important to continue to unravel humanist descendent offerings. As such, this course will provide a lens to investigate/disrupt the potentiality that posthumanity presents, pushing beyond its less obviously regressing boundaries, towards liberative future realities.
After taking this class, students will be able to:
Additional JDP Outcomes:
In addition to the above outcomes JDP Students will be able to:
Throughout the quarter, we will have several discussions which will compose a large part of our engagement with each other in this online learning space. For these discussions to be meaningful conversation spaces, we all need to take responsibility for consistent and substantial participation. Over the course of a conversation, substantial engagement means:
Things to consider: While we learn from each other from our interactions it is important to remember you classmates are not here to teach you through the justification of their experience/existence. It is also helpful to keep in mind that we take each other's histories and backgrounds seriously--being mindful that humor around these issues can be easily misconstrued.
Each post need not do all of these things, but your overall participation in each conversation should demonstrate all of these components. You might have several short posts and a handful of longer posts in a week or you might have only a few strategic substantial posts (minimum of 2 posts per discussion). Either way, your overall participation in each conversation will be evaluated for substantial engagement. The goal of this discussion design is to encourage and reward interchange, so post often and engage each other with meaningful questions that open to other questions.
I am looking for posts that help us understand and analyze the text at hand. Application of our texts to new situations is of course the ultimate goal, but we can't do that responsibly without understanding what the author is doing first. And that can be hard!
If your first post (due Thursday) focuses on one of the assigned papers/readings, please focus your second post on a discussion about another paper/reading.section below. These address student learning outcomes 1-6.
On a week you have signed up to write, you will submit your paper on canvas for grading. Background papers and one of your reading papers will also be shared as discussion starters for that week. So, on the week you write a background paper and on the week you have indicated that you want to share you reading paper, you will post the paper both in the paper assignment area and as an attachment to a discussion post in our discussion for that week.
All students not writing in a week will read all of the posted papers and choose one to engage substantially with a robust response by the first discussion deadline for the week. See Discussion Guidelines for more details on discussion expectations. By the second discussion deadline each week, students will need to participate substantially in the discussion at least one additional time. Late postings will not be accepted.
Papers will be graded according to the following 4 criteria:
In a short paper the claim typically appears as the last sentence of the introductory paragraph (if it is not there the writer needs clearly to mark where it is, since otherwise readers will assume that sentence is the claim). A claim states the conclusion of the argument put forward in the paper. You have a great deal of freedom here. A claim might state what is the most important idea in the reading, or what the author must assume to make his or her argument, or what the logical extension of that argument might be, or how that argument relates to other readings on our syllabus, or what the author gets right or wrong, etc. In a short paper you will likely not be able to summarize the all the points the author makes, nor should you try. Part of your task of analysis is to prioritize what is most important to lift up for discussion for our class. Your paper will likely not follow the same organization as the reading under analysis, since the logic of your argument will not be the same as the logic of the argument of the reading. If your paragraphs tend to begin “And then . . .; Next . . .” then it is probably time to go back and do at least one more draft and re-think what you are presenting and how. Papers for this class are a little closer to the summary end of the spectrum than a term paper might be, since they are the basis for our discussion. But they are still papers that make engage the text by making a point about the text.
The purpose of the papers is three-fold:
Papers will be graded on the following scale:
4 = A
3 = B
2 = C
1 = D
0 = F
In addition to the assignments described above. JDP students will be required to:
Zakiyyah Jackson. Becoming Human . New York: New York University Press, 2020.
Philip Butler. Black Transhuman Liberation Theology . New York: Bloomsbury, 2019.
Fred Moten. Black in Blur . Durham, North Carolina. Duke University Press, 2017.
Further readings will be provided via Canvas
Statement of Inclusivity:
If you have a preferred pronoun that you would like for the class to address you by please let me know so that we can honor that for you.
Preparation and participation (15%): All students not writing in a week will read all of the posted papers and choose one to engage substantially through a robust response by the first discussion deadline for the week. By the second discussion deadline each week, students will need to substantially engage in further discussion at least one additional time. Late postings will not be accepted.
Discussion Papers (40%): Each student will write two papers analyzing one of the readings for a particular week. Students may not write on the same author more than once, neither may they write more than one paper for any given week. These papers will critically engage the particular reading you signed for up as a way of initiating rich conversation with your classmates. Each paper counts for 20% of their final grade.
Background Paper (20%): Based on the readings for the week, choose one core theological topic that you see emerging across the readings and provide some background on that topic that will foster substantial discussion. How does this topic connect to other topics in the course? What key historical events or figures, if any, might be relevant to this topic? Are there current events that shed light on our engagement with this topic? Furthermore, what historical events took place around the topic itself that might help provide greater context to the topic of your discussion? Have there been any historical events that shaped this topic, or our understanding of it? And, is there anything else relevant about this topic that would be useful for us to know as we discuss?
Final project (25%): Your final will be a creative project that exhibits your use of Blackness' onto-materiality as a critical lens. It should include complex and critical elements of Blackness in conversation with some form of posthumanist discourse.
|Jan 05, 2021||Tue||Paper Sign-up||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 06, 2021||Wed||Week 1 Papers||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 08, 2021||Fri||Week 1 Discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 10, 2021||Sun||Week 1 Continued||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 13, 2021||Wed||Week 2 Papers||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 15, 2021||Fri||Week 2 Discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 17, 2021||Sun||Week 2 Continued||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 20, 2021||Wed||Week 3 Papers||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 22, 2021||Fri||Week 3 Discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 24, 2021||Sun||Week 3 Continued||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 27, 2021||Wed||Week 4 Papers||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 29, 2021||Fri||Week 4 Discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 31, 2021||Sun||Week 4 Continued||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 31, 2021||Sun||Week 6 Continued||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 03, 2021||Wed||Week 5 Papers||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 04, 2021||Thu||Week 5 Discussion||due by 08:00PM|
|Feb 06, 2021||Sat||Week 5 Continued||due by 03:00PM|
|Feb 10, 2021||Wed||Week 6 Papers||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 12, 2021||Fri||Week 6 Discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 17, 2021||Wed||Week 7 Papers||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 19, 2021||Fri||Week 7 Discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 21, 2021||Sun||Week 7 Continued||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 24, 2021||Wed||Week 8 Papers||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 26, 2021||Fri||Week 8 Discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 28, 2021||Sun||Week 8 Continued||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 03, 2021||Wed||Week 9 Papers||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 05, 2021||Fri||Week 9 Discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 07, 2021||Sun||Week 9 Continued||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 10, 2021||Wed||Week 10 Papers||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 12, 2021||Fri||Week 10 Discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 14, 2021||Sun||Week 10 Continued||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 16, 2021||Tue||Final Project||due by 05:59AM|