R. A. JudyMar 16, 2021
Thinking in Disorder, Poiesis in Black
Duke University Press 2020
In this episode, I interview R.A. Judy, professor of Critical and Cultural Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, about his book Sentient Flesh: Thinking in Disorder, Poiēsis in Black, which was published by Duke University Press in 2020. In Sentient Flesh R. A. Judy takes up freedman Tom Windham’s 1937 remark “we should have our liberty 'cause . . . us is human flesh" as a point of departure for an extended meditation on questions of the human, epistemology, and the historical ways in which the black being is understood. Drawing on numerous fields, from literary theory and musicology, to political theory and phenomenology, as well as Greek and Arabic philosophy, Judy engages literary texts and performative practices such as music and dance that express knowledge and conceptions of humanity appositional to those grounding modern racialized capitalism. Operating as critiques of Western humanism, these practices and modes of being-in-the-world—which he theorizes as “thinking in disorder,” or “poiēsis in black”—foreground the irreducible concomitance of flesh, thinking, and personhood. As Judy demonstrates, recognizing this concomitance is central to finding a way past the destructive and dominative force of the ontology of racial capitalism that still holds us in thrall.
Britt Edelen is a Ph.D. student in English at Duke University. He focuses on modernism and the relationship(s) between language, philosophy, and literature. You can find him on Twitter or send him an email.