Stephen Best Seminar on None Like Us: Blackness, Belonging, Aesthetic Life

 Poetics, History, Theory at UCI     Nov 5 2019 | 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM HG 1010

Join us for a seminar with Stephen Best, Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. We will discuss the introduction and first chapter from his latest book, None Like Us: Blackness, Belonging, Aesthetic Life (Duke University Press, 2018). A PDF of the relevant pages can be found below.

About the book and the seminar:
It passes for an unassailable truth that the slave past provides an explanatory prism for understanding the black political present. In None Like Us, Stephen Best reappraises what he calls “melancholy historicism”—a kind of crime scene investigation in which the forensic imagination is directed toward the recovery of a “we” at the point of “our” violent origin. Best argues that there is and can be no “we” following from such a time and place, that black identity is constituted in and through negation, taking inspiration from David Walker’s prayer that “none like us ever may live again until time shall be no more.” Best draws out the connections between a sense of impossible black sociality and strains of negativity that have operated under the sign of queer. In None Like Us the art of El Anatsui and Mark Bradford, the literature of Toni Morrison and Gwendolyn Brooks, even rumors in the archive, evidence an apocalyptic aesthetics, or self-eclipse, which opens the circuits between past and present and thus charts a queer future for black study.

Stephen Best is Professor of English at UC Berkeley and also the author of The Fugitive's Properties: Law and the Poetics of Possession (Chicago, 2004). His research pursuits in the fields of American and African American criticism have been rather closely aligned with a broader interrogation of literary critical practice. His scholarship encompasses a variety of fields and materials: American and African-American literature and culture, cinema and technology, rhetoric and law, queer and critical theory.

This event is free and open to the public.  It is sponsored by Poetics|history|Theory@uci and the UCI Queer Theory Reading Group.

Please contact Virginia Jackson with questions or requests for more information.

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