The Black World


The Black World at Johns Hopkins University

The Black World Seminar

Tuesdays 12pm-2pm
Gilman 308/Zoom

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Black World Faculty Conveners

Prof. N. D. B. Connolly

Prof. Jessica Marie Johnson

Prof. Martha Jones

Prof. Sasha Turner

Prof. Lawrence Jackson

Prof. Minkah Makalani

About the Seminar

The Black World Seminar is a graduate-faculty seminar on the making and meaning of blackness between the 14th and 20th centuries. We consider Africans and people of African descent’s impact on the making of the modern world, from the slave trade to the present. We explore, too, the historical forces which created blackness as a marker on the body and as a political and cultural identity. In beginning chronologically before the Middle Passage, this seminar pays special attention to processes of racialization, diaspora, moments of dislocation, the fashioning of memory, and to the gendered, racialized and generational encounters with capitalism. In this seminar’s thematic emphasis on Black History and Black Studies as disciplines, seminar attendees can expect to interrogate how specific approaches to the Black World developed in response to the political contexts of what’s generally considered “The West.”

In addition to reading works of Black History, the seminar considers what it means to write history “Black.” How do authors challenge white supremacy – bibliographically, methodologically, compositionally, and archivally? How do they exercise and exhibit blackness as a set of descriptive and interpretive commitments? Far more than a physical marker, after all, blackness also represents an epistemology – a way of knowing – or what at time’s been called “black knowledge.” The Black World Seminar thus explores black knowledge as a library of works, a cluster of methodologies, interlocking modes of analysis and critique, and as a practice.

Spring 2024 Seminar Leader is Prof. Dr. Nathan Connolly (Herbert Baxter Adams Associate Professor of History)

Syllabus and Seminar Schedule for Black World X: Spring 2024

For more on the Black World Seminar see Dr. Nathan Connolly’s essay, “Come Celebrate a Black World” published as part of the Taller Electric Marronage Fugitive Handbook here.

For a list of all Black World readings from Fall 2019 through Spring 2022, click here. Created summer 2022; thank you to Gregory Smaldone for compiling and organizing this list

Past Syllabi

Black World I: Fall 2019 (Connolly)

Black World II: Spring 2020 (Connolly-Johnson)

Black World III: Fall 2020 (Jones)

Black World IV: Spring 2021 (Connolly-Turner)

Black World V: Fall 2021 (Johnson-Jackson)

Black World VI: Fall 2022 (Makalani)

Black World VII: Spring 2022 (Johnson)

Black World VIII: Spring 2023 (Jones)

Black World IX: Fall 2024 (JMJ)