W. E. B. Du Bois Center Visiting Scholar Talk
February 6, 2020
4:00 pm-6:00 pm
Library, W.E.B. Du Bois
UMass Amherst Campus
Handicap access available
This talk considers how Du Bois’s various litanies, culminating in his end-of-life trilogy The Black Flame, evinces an evolving theory of the racial unconscious, or "the Du Boisian creed.” Departing from efforts to recognize Du Bois’s place as the father of modern U.S. sociology, a Du Boisian creed locates in his late-career writings a proto-psychoanalytic strand of thought—an attempt to go “beneath the veil”—spawned by the grief over a father’s loss of a child (his son, Burghardt, in 1899) decades prior.
A work of historical fiction and quasi-autobiography, and foremost a tragic family drama, the narration of The Black Flame finds Du Bois asserting a "fourth-person” point-of-view that expresses the collective and intergenerational trauma and melancholia of African-Americans, and the collective racist neuroses and fantasies of whites. Guided by Moon-Kie Jung’s recent call for a new “under-discipline” of sociology, this analysis goes subterranean into the unconscious and in doing so offers a few recommendations for sociological analyses of Du Bois.
Freeden Blume Oeur is associate professor of sociology and education at Tufts University, and co-chair for the Boston Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality. His research examines the interplay of gender and masculinity, education, youth, feminist theory, and Black politics. Blume Oeur is the author of the award-winning book Black Boys Apart: Racial Uplift and Respectability in All-Male Public Schools (2018) and co-editor (with Edward W. Morris) of Unmasking Masculinities: Men and Society. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Du Bois Center at UMass, he is undertaking two projects: a revival and reimagination of Du Bois’s prayers written between 1909 and 1910 (with Phillip Luke Sinitiere and Becca Leviss); and a work of historical ethnography and historical fiction that uses Du Bois’s Black Flame trilogy to reassess the politics, the promise, and the propaganda of modern U.S. sociology.