Critical Illegibility, Blackness and Scoring Dangerous Freedoms

My project examines the possibility of reconfiguring conventional literary analytic practice by crafting critical approaches which are less invested in rendering texts ‘transparent’ than in approximating, embracing and extending the transgressive energies and insights of creative texts. I am curious about the possibility of a literary critical methodology or practice that is open to honoring the opaque, the untidy, the seemingly absurd, in fictional representations of Blackness, without succumbing to the anxiety of normative legibility. To my mind, such a methodology may propose a creative counter-discourse to the troubling resurgence of commodifications of Black pain for mass consumption, in the guise of artistic boundary-pushing; and the equally troubling resurgence of brutalities — both literal and structural — inflicted on Black bodies across the world. The project focuses on a selection of fiction, films and popular culture from Africa and the African diaspora. The overarching aim of this project is to meditate on literary conceptions of Black desires for, and attempts at, transgressive freedoms — with keen focus on critical illegibility and opacity — in racist, capitalist and patriarchal contexts which quantify Black humanity and claims to dignity on the basis of economic and political power.

Project leader(s):
  • Grace Musila (Stellenbosch)

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