Black Time and the Aesthetic Possibility of Objects

By Daphne Lamothe

202 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 7 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7531-2
    Published: January 2024
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7530-5
    Published: January 2024
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7532-9
    Published: November 2023

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The decades following the civil rights and decolonization movements of the sixties and seventies—termed the post-soul era—created new ways to understand the aesthetics of global racial representation. Daphne Lamothe shows that beginning around 1980 and continuing to the present day, Black literature, art, and music resisted the pull of singular and universal notions of racial identity. Developing the idea of "Black aesthetic time"—a multipronged theoretical concept that analyzes the ways race and time collide in the process of cultural production—she assesses Black fiction, poetry, and visual and musical texts by Paule Marshall, Zadie Smith, Tracy K. Smith, Dionne Brand, Toyin Ojih Odutola, and Stromae, among others. Lamothe asks how our understanding of Blackness might expand upon viewing racial representation without borders—or, to use her concept, from the permeable, supple place of Black aesthetic time.

Lamothe purposefully focuses on texts told from the vantage point of immigrants, migrants, and city dwellers to conceptualize Blackness as a global phenomenon without assuming the universality or homogeneity of racialized experience. In this new way to analyze Black global art, Lamothe foregrounds migratory subjects poised on thresholds between not only old and new worlds, but old and new selves.

About the Author

Daphne Lamothe is professor of Africana studies at Smith College.

For more information about Daphne Lamothe, visit the Author Page.


"In this stunning book, Daphne Lamothe goes against a dominant grain in contemporary Black critical studies by advancing a case for aesthetic encounter as a way to engage a temporality of Blackness in the present. Smart and full of intellectual risk, and all the more substantial, elegant, and considered because of it."—Kevin Quashie, Brown University

"This book offers a timely expansion on the scope of post-soul Black cultural production, extending scholarly attention to text, music video, and visual art from diverse Black sites.... This is a book with a capacious theoretical bibliography and exemplary close readings. Lamothe's readings of artistic works are a master class in why the humanities matter. They are truly a joy to read."—Tsitsi Jaji, Duke University