Black Gathering

Art, Ecology, Ungiven Life

Black Gathering

Black Outdoors: Innovations in the Poetics of Study

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Book Pages: 208 Illustrations: 16 illustrations Published: September 2021

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Art and Visual Culture, Gender and Sexuality

In Black Gathering Sarah Jane Cervenak engages with Black artists and writers who create alternative spaces for Black people to gather free from interruption or regulation. Drawing together Black feminist theory, critical theories of ecology and ecoaesthetics, and Black aesthetics, Cervenak shows how novelists, poets, and visual artists such as Gayl Jones, Toni Morrison, Clementine Hunter, Samiya Bashir, and Leonardo Drew advance an ecological imagination that unsettles Western philosophical ideas of the earth as given to man. In their aestheticization and conceptualization of gathering, these artists investigate the relationships between art, the environment, home, and forms of Black togetherness. Cervenak argues that by offering a formal and conceptual praxis of gathering, Black artists imagine liberation and alternative ways of being in the world that exist beyond those Enlightenment philosophies that presume Black people and earth as given to enclosure and ownership.


“Extending her rich study of philosophical praxis and the racial politics of wandering, Sarah Jane Cervenak explores daily practices and real-life social happenings as frames for navigating the discourses of death, subjection, and most vitally, life. Surely this is a gathering; surely this is a beautiful work in Black aesthetics.” — Kevin Quashie, author of Black Aliveness, or A Poetics of Being

“Foregrounding fugitive existence in the reading of key literary texts and artworks, Black Gathering offers a powerful account of how Blackness (as it signals the without of modern representation) releases humans and nonhumans from their modern aesthetic enclosure (as subject and object of uncommitted contemplation) and juridic-economic misfortune (as subject and object of expropriation and extraction).” — Denise Ferreira da Silva, author of Toward a Global Idea of Race


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Sarah Jane Cervenak is Associate Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and of African American and African Diaspora Studies at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is the author of Wandering: Philosophical Performances of Racial and Sexual Freedom, also published by Duke University Press.

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Table of Contents Forthcoming
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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1447-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1355-6