Christina Sharpe, In the Wake, talk (4/5) and reading group (4 sessions)

Counterpath is excited to host a talk with Christina Sharpe, author of In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Duke UP, 2017) on Thursday, April 5, at 7pm. The event is free and open to the public.

Leading up to Sharpe’s visit, at various locations we will also facilitate four meetings of a reading group dedicated to the book, each meeting focussing on one of the four chapters. The schedule is as follows and please write to to get on the reading group e-mail list. Attendance is open to all, the group is free of charge, and no one is either expected to show up at all meetings or to have read the book.

Sunday, February 11, 7-9pm
Sunday, Februrary 25
Sunday, March 4
Sunday, March 18

On In the Wake:

In this original and trenchant work, Christina Sharpe interrogates literary, visual, cinematic, and quotidian representations of Black life that comprise what she calls the “orthography of the wake.” Activating multiple registers of “wake”—the path behind a ship, keeping watch with the dead, coming to consciousness—Sharpe illustrates how Black lives are swept up and animated by the afterlives of slavery, and she delineates what survives despite such insistent violence and negation. Initiating and describing a theory and method of reading the metaphors and materiality of “the wake,” “the ship,” “the hold,” and “the weather,” Sharpe shows how the sign of the slave ship marks and haunts contemporary Black life in the diaspora and how the specter of the hold produces conditions of containment, regulation, and punishment, but also something in excess of them. In the weather, Sharpe situates anti-Blackness and white supremacy as the total climate that produces premature Black death as normative. Formulating the wake and “wake work” as sites of artistic production, resistance, consciousness, and possibility for living in diaspora, In the Wake offers a way forward.

Christina Sharpe is Associate Professor of English at Tufts University and the author of Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects, also published by Duke University Press.

“The book that will live on in me from this year is Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake, on living in the wake of the catastrophic violence of legal chattel slavery. In the Wake speaks in so many multiple ways (poetry, memory, theory, images) and does so in language that is never still. It is, in part, about keeping watch, not unseeing the violence that has become normative, being in the hold, holding on and still living.”  —Madeleine Thien, The Guardian, Best Books of 2016

“Christina Sharpe brings everything she has to bear on herconsideration of the violation and commodification of Black life and the aesthetic responses to this ongoing state of emergency. Through her curatorial practice, Sharpe marshals the collective intellectual heft and aesthetic inheritance of the African diaspora to show us the world as it appears from her distinctive line of sight. A searing and brilliant work.” —Saidiya Hartman, author of Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route

“Christina Sharpe’s deep engagement with the archive of Black knowledge production across theory, fiction, poetry, and other intellectual endeavors offers an avalanche of new insights on how to think about anti-Blackness as a significant and important structuring element of the modern scene.Cutting across theoretical genres, In the Wake will generate important intellectual debates and maybe even movements in Black studies, cultural studies, feminist studies, and beyond. This is where cultural studies should have gone a long time ago.” —Rinaldo Walcott, author of Black Like Who?: Writing Black Canada