"On the Aesthetics of Black Inexpression"

Tina Post, Assistant Professor, Department of English, The University of Chicago

In her book Deadpan, Tina Post argues that inexpression is a gesture that acquires distinctive meanings in concert with blackness, and that the performance of purposeful withholding is a critical tool in the work of black culture makers. This talk, drawn from the book’s introduction, Post introduces some of the ways that deadpan aesthetics function in and between opacity and fugitivity, minimalism and saturation, excess and insensibility.

Tina Post’s work is preoccupied with racial performativity, especially (though not exclusively) the ways that black Americans perform racial identity. What modes of embodiment assert belonging or dis-belonging, and how? When do racialized subjects confirm and when do they subvert the expectations of their identitarian positions, and to what end? How do other factors of embodiment (gender, dis/ability, hybridity, and so forth) color these performances? Post approaches such questions primarily through the lenses of affect and performance studies, using literature, visual culture, fine art, theater, and movement as examples and objects of study.