I am a doctoral student of American Religions and African American Studies at Northwestern University. I began my studies at Northwestern in 2016 after earning an MTS in Social Ethics (Moral Theology) and Culture from Southern Methodist University. My current dissertation research engages the themes of religion, affect, performance, theories of Blackness, racial aesthetics, and popular culture in the Americas and throughout Atlantic geographies. In particular, my project unsettles the categorical partitioning of the sonic, affective, sensual, choreographic dimensions of Black popular culture from the fields of theology and American Religious History by formulating chapters that not only highlight the unfruitful imposition of pure, epistemological distinctions but performs, through its own emanation, echoes of an alternative futurity accessible through faith and desire. Current chapters include an overview of Jonathan Edwards’ racialized theorization of religious affect and the influence it has had on American popular culture, an analysis of the jazz-inspired racial aesthetics of Malcolm X’s Black Muslim performance, the heterodoxical poetics of Richard Pryor, the imprecatory Black sorrow songs of Nina Simone, the short films of Michael Joseph Jackson, as well as examination of the movie House Party as a surrealist critique of the order of policing in the United States
My dissertation project engages a wide range of critical paradigms from Black studies, political theory, theology, cultural studies, performance studies, sound studies, visual culture and media studies, and American Religious History to theorize how Black popular culture unsettles disciplinary investments within both the fields of theology and American Religions. Despite disciplinary investments toward the quantifiable and the bordered, the structured, the ordered, policeable, and disciplined, this project analyzes Black popular culture’s willingness to, as Richard Iton put it, embrace disturbance, to engage the apparently mad and maddening, to sustain often slippery frameworks of intention that act subliminally, if not explicitly, on distinct and overlapping cognitive registers, and to acknowledge meaning in those spaces where speechlessness is the common currency. Thinkers I engage throughout the work include Ashon Crawley, Monica R. Miller, Alex Weheliye, Saidiya Hartman, M. Shawn Copeland, Fred Moten, Hortense Spillers, Charles Long, Stuart Hall, and Richard Iton. They inform the way I have come to think through the keywords of my dissertation: aesthetic practice, popular culture, modernity, flesh, Blackness.