"'Ah! But they wear no breeches!' The Poetic Afterlife of an Image" - Radiclani Clytus, Brown University

Department: Poetics, History, Theory at UCI

Date and Time: April 8, 2016 | 12:00 PM-2:00 PM

Event Location: HG 1341

Event Details

Poetics|history|Theory@uci is pleased to present a lecture by Radiclani Clytus, Brown University, "'Ah! But they wear no breeches!' The Poetic Afterlife of an Image." 

"'Ah! But they wear no breeches!' The Poetic Afterlife of an Image."

Josiah Wedgwood’s design for the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade is primarily an artifact of a past politics of inclusion that literally required the posing of the question “Am I Not a Man and a Brother?” for the sake of Africa’s shared basis in humanity.  With its loinclothed kneeling slave in manacles and pathetic appeal, it is a rather disturbing and antiquated example of how images can encourage the expansion of socially democratic principles.  And yet, if we were to extrapolate from the form and content of Wedgwood’s emblem, a rich legacy of influence emerges across two centuries of black protest.  Through an assessment of performative declarations, appeals, and slogans that amount to a cross-disciplinary continuation of this “Negro Question” in African American literature and the visual arts, this paper will outline the epistemological continuity that binds our current categorical regard for black humanity with its less than ideal origins.

Radiclani Clytus is an assistant professor of English and American Studies at Brown University. He is the editor of Yusef Komunyakaa’s Condition Red (2016) and Blue Notes: Essays, Interviews, and Commentaries (2000). He has published articles on nineteenth-century circum-Atlantic visual culture and contemporary black music, and his documentary film work has been screened at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Whitney Museum of American Art, Walker Arts Center, and University of Chicago Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts.   His forthcoming book, Graphic Slavery: American Abolitionism and the Primacy of the Visual (New York University Press), examines the ocularcentric roots of American anti-slavery rhetoric.