Rebecka Rutledge Fisher

Scholar in African American literature, United States

Rebecka Rutledge Fisher is a scholar of Black Critical Theory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of Habitations of the Veil: Metaphor and the Poetics of Black Being in African American Literature (SUNY, 2014) and Understanding Natasha Trethewey (University of South Carolina Press, 2022). She is a 2020-2021 Du Bois-Mellon Fellow at the University of Massachusetts’s W.E.B. Du Bois Center and was the Fall 2020 Johnson Family Fellow at UNC’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities. Her Camargo Foundation project retrieves the corpus of Du Bois’s “lost” poetry in order to theorize a subversively transnational and transdisciplinary poetics of black being.

The Thinker as Poet: The Poetry and Poetics of W.E.B. Du Bois

During her stay at the Camargo Foundation, Rebecka Rutledge Fisher’s work will focus on the second chapter of the book The Thinker as Poet: The Poetry and Poetics of W.E.B. Du Bois. She will connect this poetics to her research on the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle as she traces how Du Bois deployed what she calls a deep “poetic sublime”: radicalizing 18th and 19th century Franco-German notions of the sublime, and cultivating an expansive poetic aesthetic that yields an intersectional methodology which effectively disturbs and disorders the orders of modern epistemology founding many, if not all, disciplines. Through the prism of his groundbreaking conceptual metaphors and across his transformational scholarly and activist interventions, Du Bois’s poetics exemplify the sublime as the beyond of disciplinary thought, countering quotidian violence enacted via the disciplines especially on bodies of color, and offering a counter-epistemology that has, in many ways, been taken up by today’s global activists.