The Art and Politics of African American Faith

A public lecture by Josef Sorett, Columbia University.



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  • The Art and Politics of African American Faith

    Josef Sorett, Columbia University (February 1, 2017)


This talk will explore the terrain of presumably “secular” African American literature and popular music–drawing from episodes across the 20th century to the contemporary moment–as a novel means for engaging black faith traditions and to invite new conversations about American religion and politics.

Josef Sorett is an Associate Professor of Religion and African-American Studies at Columbia University, where he also directs the Center on African-American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice (CARSS). As an interdisciplinary scholar of religion and race in the Americas, Sorett employs primarily historical and literary approaches to the study of religion in black communities and cultures in the United States. His first book, Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics (Oxford University Press, 2016) illumines how religion has figured in debates about black art and culture across the 20th century. Josef’s second book – tentatively titled “The Holy Holy Black: The Ironies of an African American Secular is also in contract with Oxford UP. Additionally, Sorett is editing an anthology, The Sexual Politics of Black Churches.

This lecture is sponsored by the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, African and African-American Studies Department, and the Religion and Literature Reading Group in the English Department.

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