Reading Angela Davis: Race, Class, and Liberation
68 Jay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Angela Y. Davis’ wide-ranging work over the past five decades marks her as one of our most important contemporary intellectuals. Though known to many primarily as a political activist, Davis has made important contributions to feminist theory, Black studies, critical theory, and sociology. What are the themes that bind Davis’ diverse intellectual output? How, in Davis’ hands, do critical theory, feminism, race, Marxism, and activism connect? What insights does Davis’ work offer today into contemporary considerations of capitalism, intersectionality, and radical political alternatives?
This class is an introduction to reading Angela Davis, as well as the writers, theorists, and artists with whom she has been in dialogue. We will begin with her 1969 Lectures on Liberation, a ground-breaking effort to set out an intellectual program for the emerging field of Black Studies. We will move through her paradigm-shifting contributions to feminism, in particular her two collections Women, Race & Class and Women, Culture & Politics, and also address her less-often appreciated work in cultural criticism, particularly her book Blues Legacies and Black Feminism. Finally, we will consider her 2003 book Are Prisons Obsolete?, a foundational text for the intellectual and political work being done by the prison abolitionist movement today, as well as her most recent work on the meaning of “freedom.” This course will locate Davis’ work within the Black Radical, Black Marxist, and Black Feminist traditions as well as in relation to her Frankfurt School teachers, Herbert Marcuse and Theodor Adorno. Accompanying texts may include works by W. E. B. DuBois, Frantz Fanon, Cedric Robinson, Joy James, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, bell hooks, Robin D. G. Kelley, and Robyn Spencer.
Course ScheduleTuesday, 6:30-9:30pm
June 11 — July 02, 2019