Skip to Main Content
Join us on Zoom as Matt Sandler Discusses The Black Romantic Revolution

During the pitched battle over slavery in the United States, Black writers—enslaved and free—allied themselves with the cause of abolition and used their art to advocate for emancipation and to envision the end of slavery as a world-historical moment of possibility.

These Black writers borrowed from the European tradition of Romanticism—lyric poetry, prophetic visions--to write, speak, and sing their hopes for what freedom might mean. At the same time, they voiced anxieties about the expansion of global capital and US imperial power in the aftermath of slavery. They also focused on the ramifications of slavery's sexual violence. Authors like Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, George Moses Horton, Albery Allson Whitman, and Joshua McCarter Simpson conceived the Civil War as a revolutionary upheaval on par with Europe's stormy Age of Revolutions. The Black Romantic Revolution proposes that the Black Romantics' cultural innovations have shaped Black radical culture to this day, from the blues and hip hop to Black nationalism and Black feminism. Their expressions of love and rage, grief and determination, dreams and nightmares, still echo into our present. Sandler will be in conversation with Honorée Fanonne Jeffers.

​Matt Sandler is Program Director of the M.A. in American Studies at Columbia University's Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race. He specializes in American and African American poetry. Before returning to Columbia, he taught at Louisiana State University, Gettysburg College, and the University of Oregon. His work has appeared in Callaloo, African American Review, Comparative Literature, Twentieth Century Literature, Atlantic Studies, the Journal of American Studies, and the L.A. Review of Books, as well as a number of anthologies.  

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is a poet, fiction writer, and essayist. Her first novel, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, is forthcoming from Harper in 2021; in addition, she’s the author of five books of poetry, most recently, The Age of Phillis (Wesleyan, 2020), based upon fifteen years of research on the life and times of Phillis Wheatley Peters, a formerly enslaved person who was the first African American woman to publish a book. Jeffers’s creative work has appeared in Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry (Norton 2013), Black Renaissance Noire, Common-Place: The Journal of Early American Life, The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race (Scribner 2016), The Kenyon Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among others.  

Please register for this free Zoom event. Registered audience members will receive a Zoom link prior to the event. The Black Romantic Revolution can be ordered online from our partner Greenlight Bookstore for in-store pickup or direct-to-home shipping here

Author photo credit Gesi Schilling

Matt Sandler Discusses The Black Romantic Revolution with Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

close navigation