Rebellious Affects: Black Joy, Pleasure, and Happiness as Counterabjection

deadline for submissions: 
March 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Joanna Davis-McElligatt, University of North Texas

How can we harness of the power of Black joy? How have Black thinkers, scholars, and artists turned their attention to forms of Black happiness as a critical and necessary affectual response to the logics of Black death? How can we describe—and make meaningful—the radical potential of Black happiness and joy as antidotes to the overwhelming logics of Black death and destruction? While keeping in view the manifold ways Black life is denigrated, devalued, and destroyed, this panel seeks to explore representations of Black bliss, tenderness, pleasure, jubilation, mirth, and exhilaration. Indeed, as Christina Sharpe notes in In the Wake, “even as we experienced, recognized, and lived subjection, we did not simply or only line in subjection and as the subjected.” How have Black folk found and cultivated joy even in the midst of subjection, abjection, and the death-dealing logics of white supremacy? How are the affects and expressions of Black joy a life-affirming, rebellious, and meaningful counter to Black death? Please send abstracts of no more than 250-words and a short bio to Joanna Davis-McElligatt at by March 15, 2023. All participants must be MLA members by April 7, 2023.