Fall 2019

Black Existentialsim

Listed in: Black Studies, as BLST-195  |  Philosophy, as PHIL-334

Formerly listed as: BLST-55


John E. Drabinski (Section 01)


(Offered as BLST 195[D] and PHIL 334) During the middle decades of the twentieth century, existentialism dominated the European philosophical and literary scene. Prominent theorists such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty put the experience of history, alienation, and the body at the center of philosophical and literary life. It should be no surprise, then, that existentialism appealed to so many Afro-Caribbean and African-American thinkers of the same period and after. This course examines the critical transformation of European existentialist ideas through close readings of black existentialists Aime Césaire, Frantz Fanon, George Lamming, and Wilson Harris, paired with key essays from Sartre, Camus, and Merleau-Ponty. We will engage black existentialism not just as a series of claims, but also as a method, which allows us to read works by African-American writers such as W.E.B. Du Bois, James Baldwin, and Ralph Ellison in an existentialist frame. Last, we will consider the matter of how and why existentialism continues to function so centrally in contemporary Africana philosophy.

Fall semester. Professor Drabinski.

BLST 195 - L/D

Section 01
Tu 11:30 AM - 12:50 PM SMUD 014
Th 11:30 AM - 12:50 PM SMUD 014

This is preliminary information about books for this course. Please contact your instructor or the Academic Coordinator for the department, before attempting to purchase these books.

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Anti-Semite and Jew Schocken Books, 1995 Jean-Paul Sarte Amherst Books TBD
Eight Men Pyramid Books, 1974 Richard Wright Amherst Books TBD
Black Skin White Mask Grove Press, 1952 Frantz Fanon Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Fall 2019, Spring 2023