Refusing Optimism: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Anti-blackness, and the Ethics of Anguish

Prof. Joseph Winters

Joseph Winters is an assistant professor of Religious Studies with a secondary position in the Department of African and African American Studies at Duke University. His interests lie in African-American Religious Thought, Religion and Critical Theory, Af-Am Literature, and Continental philosophy. Overall, his project is concerned with troubling and expanding our understanding of black religiosity and black piety by drawing on resources from Af-Am literature, philosophy, and critical theory. Winters teaches and writes about religion and hip hop, religion, race, and film, critical approaches to religious studies, and the general connections between black studies and critical theory.

Winters' first book, Hope Draped in Black: Race, Melancholy, and the Agony of Progress (Duke University Press, June 2016) examines how black literature and aesthetic practices challenge post-racial fantasies and triumphant accounts of freedom. The book shows how authors like WEB Du Bois and Toni Morrison link hope and possibility to melancholy, remembrance, and a recalcitrant sense of the tragic.

This talk is sponsored by the Religious Studies Program and the Center for the Humanities. For more information please contact