Sylvia Wynter and The Tempest: 'Beyond Miranda's Meanings'

Thursday 18 May | 5:30 - 7:00pm | Meeting Room G01 Written as an afterword to Out of the Kumbla (1994), the first edited collection of critical essays on Caribbean women’s literature, ' Beyond Miranda's Meaning: Un/silencing the "Demonic Ground" of Caliban's "Woman" ' analyses the ways in which race complicates gender, taking a discussion of Shakespeare’s The Tempest as a point of departure. According to Sylvia Wynter, this play not only posits Caliban as ‘the irrational native subject’ but in doing so also relegates 'Caliban’s "woman"' to a space of non-being. As such, the play reenacts the founding structure of the onto-epistemic order of Western Man. Analysing the function of the “ontological absence” of the Black female subject position, it is in this essay that Wynter coins the term “demonic ground”, which has since been taken up by various scholars in different ways, most notably by Katherine McKittrick. As always this sessio

Sylvia Wynter, Franz Fanon, and The Consciousness We Need

Tuesday 25 April | 17:30 - 19:00 | Room G01, House 10, School of English  Join us for a discussion of Sylvia Wynter’s work on diasporic ‘double consciousness’, black resistance, and what both mean for us and our perspectives on the world. ​ In ' Towards the Sociogenic Principle: Fanon, the Puzzle of Conscious Experience of "Identity" and What it's Like to be "Black" ', Wynter argues that humans are not biologically determined bodies, but beings for whom there is something which it is 'like' to be them. This consciousness is not universal, but depends on social position and the stories told about self and other. These issues have been acute for racially discriminated people, and form an entry-point for Fanon and Wynter’s ‘sociogenic principle’ in the experience of identity.​ Combining sociology with history, psychology with philosophy of mind, continental with analytic tradition, and ethnography and postcolonial thought, Wynter’s rich, complex tex

'Unsettling the Coloniality of Being': wrap-up

Tuesday 21st March | 17:30 - 19:00 | The Pack Horse This session will be our last session on Wynter's expansive essay 'Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation - An Argument' . Our discussion this month will centre on the final two sections of the text (pp. 303-331) but will also be an opportunity to discuss and reflect on the essay as a whole and its place in Wynter's wider body of work.  In these last two sections, Wynter continues her dissection of the colonial epistemic order that has sustained our current conception of the human as 'Man'. Drawing on Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon, she also begins to theorise what she calls a ‘Science of the Word’ as a potential catalyst for a new epistemic leap in our understanding of what it means to be human. In our discussion we will be exploring what she means by this, and its implications. As a companion piece we will also be looking at Césaire’s short

'Unsettling the Coloniality of Being', session #2

 Friday 17th February | 4:30 - 6:00pm | Meeting room G.01, House 10 Cavendish Road, School of English In this session we will be continuing our discussion of one of Sylvia Wynter's most prominent essays  'Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation - An Argument' , with a particular focus on section 2 (283-303) .  In this section, Wynter continues her exploration of the various shifts in the descriptive statements of the human and the respective order of knowledge to which they give rise. In this second part in particular, she details the invention of “the modern phenomenon of race as a new, [ostensibly] extrahumanly determined classificatory principle and mechanism of domination” (296). Through her distinctive ability to seamlessly bring together literature, biology, history and anthropology, she weaves together a fascinating and compelling analysis of the origins of our current conception of the human as ‘M

Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom

Tuesday 24th January | 5:30 - 7:00pm | The Alumni Room, School of English This session will be the first of three exploring one of Wynter's most influential works 'Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation - An Argument' . Probing in more detail the issues raised in her 'Open Letter' and positing the human as an object of knowledge, in this long and representative essay, Wynter connects different historical moments to unveil the processes through which a culturally specific conception of the human as 'Man' has come to be regarded as a universal model for what it means to be human. We will be breaking up the text into three sections with this first session focusing on the introduction and part 1 (pp. 257-283). The meeting will be held in the School of English Alumni Room (floor 1, house 10, Cavendish Road) but please do get in touch at if you would like to attend the

'"No Humans Involved": An Open Letter to My Colleagues'

Tuesday 22 nd November | 5:30 – 7:00pm | The Alumni Room (School of English)   We will begin our exploration of Sylvia Wynter’s oeuvre with her ground-breaking text ‘“No Humans Involved”: An Open Letter to my Colleagues’ (1992) in which Wynter responds to the brutal beating and arrest of Rodney King at the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). During the trial and subsequent acquittal of the police officers responsible, it emerged that the acronym NHI (No Humans Involved) was routinely ascribed by LAPD officers to young, unemployed black men. In this extraordinary intervention, Wynter interrogates the dominant knowledge systems that exclude some people from being counted as ‘human’, and the role of the university in perpetuating these dangerous and exclusionary classificatory logics. Although the meeting will focus on ‘“No Humans Involved”’, we are suggesting as potential further reading a short introduction to Wynter’s work by Katherine McKittrick 'Yours in th

Reading Sylvia Wynter

We are very pleased to announce the return of interdisciplinary critical and cultural theory reading group Quilting Points for its eleventh consecutive year!  This year we will be reading and discussing the work of Jamaican writer and cultural theorist Sylvia Wynter. Wynter's extensive oeuvre includes fiction, drama, theory and criticism which, through a deeply anti-colonial lens, disrupts and reimagines Western conceptions of what it means to be human.   Run by postgraduate researchers in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities, and Cultures, your directors this year are Freddie Coombes, Marika Ceschia, and Ellie Wakeford.  This year's meetings will take place in-person, with our first meeting of the year taking place on 22nd November. More details coming soon. We can't wait to see you all there!   Image: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library.