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Black Queer Studies: A Genealogy – A Masterclass with E. Patrick Johnson

Please join the From Slavery to Freedom Lab at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute for the Spring 2023 Masterclass series. The From Slavery to Freedom Lab supports a wide array of programs intending to examine the life and afterlives of slavery and emancipation, linking Duke University to the Global South. Through collaborative research, symposia, and community outreach, the Lab is a space to reflect collectively not only on slavery's enduring impact as an institution but think critically about how the legacies of resistance throughout the African Diaspora might help us to work toward liberation, inclusion, and social justice in the present.

In this masterclass E. Patrick Johnson will trace the origins of what is now codified as the field of Black Queer Studies, beginning in the 18th Century to the present. Johnson will argue that gender and sexuality have been integral to the history and study of Black people.

E. Patrick Johnson is Dean of the School of Communication and Annenberg University Professor at Northwestern University. He is a 2020 inductee into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity (2003); Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South-An Oral History (2008); Black. Queer. Southern. Women.-An Oral History (2018); and Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women (2019), in addition to several edited and co-edited collections, essays, and plays.

Johnson's written and performance work dovetail intimately. His staged reading, "Pouring Tea: Black Gay Men of the South Tell Their Tales," has toured to over 100 college campuses since 2006. The full-length stage play, Sweet Tea-The Play, premiered in Chicago, toured across 8 other cities, and to the National Black Theater Festival. Guided by an excerpt from his documentary film, Making Sweet Tea (2019), Johnson asks us to think about how we might push at the boundaries of what scholarship is and how it can be shared; how stories impact us as researchers and viewers; and how we might transgress conventions of established genres, blurring the boundaries between art/narrative/social science, inviting a reflection and open discussion on what's to be gained from doing so.

This event is by RSVP registration only, and registered participants will be sent pre-readings ahead of the event. Sign up at