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On the Question of Beloved Community: Revisiting W.E.B. Du Bois’s “Critique of the Teutonic Strongman” with Dr. Ronald Judy (Virtual)
March 31, 2020 @ 12:00 pm
Dr. Ronald “R.A” Judy, professor in the Department of English at the University of Pittsburgh, will deliver the 26th Annual Mary Stevens Reckford Memorial Lecture in European Studies, entitled “On the Question of Beloved Community: Revisiting W. E. B. Du Bois’s Critique of the Teutonic Strongman.”
On the Question of Beloved Community: Revisiting W. E. B. Du Bois’s critique of the Teutonic Strongman
Among the pressing issues of our moment is the continuing appeal of the authoritarian strong man. The why and how of that appeal relates to the fundamental ethical propositions of society as much as it is does the political and economic factors associated with globalization. Those propositions and factors were very much at the forefront of W. E. B. Du Bois’s thinking when he gave his famous 1890 Harvard University Commencement address, “Jefferson Davis as a Representative of Civilization,” as well as the equally important but less celebrated 1899 address to the American Negro Academy, “The Present Outlook for the Dark Races of Mankind.” This talk considers the relationship between those two addresses, highlighting the centrality in Du Bois’s thinking and work of the question: What is the most viable concept of the human on which to base a sustainable global civilization? A corollary question Du Bois also posed is whether or not there can be a worldly human community based on love. This talk explores how these two questions are related through carefully considering what Du Bois called his “Gospel of Sacrifice,” which entails a discourse of love that not only challenges the strong man paradigm of civilization, but also the proposition that caritas, “charity,” is the basis for a viably just worldly community of humankind.
Du Bois calls us to embrace the very love Nietzsche attributes to aristocratic virtue, the love of living, of fulfillment in community of the living; but without the proprietary force Nietzsche gives it. The sacrifice Du Bois advocates does not stem from a love of that which is mine through force of arms or will, or which I can assimilate to myself in mimicry. It is what we might call, carefully, knowing there is need for considerable elucidation, love-improper.
Join via Zoom at https://unc.zoom.us/j/236889177