Josef Sorett

Josef Sorett is an associate professor of religion and African American studies at Columbia University, where he also directs the Center on African-American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice. During the 2016-17 academic year, Josef is in residence at the Institute for Sacred Music at Yale University. He is the author of Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics (Oxford, 2016). Josef’s next book, The Holy Holy Black: The Ironies of an African American Secular, is forthcoming (Oxford, 2018).

Posts by Josef Sorett:

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Spirit in the Dark—An introduction

Spirit in the DarkI have written elsewhere about a set of contemporary experiences and observations—although now aged by roughly two decades—that provided the first sparks of interest in the questions that led to my first book, Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics. Travels back and forth between church services, on one hand, and open mics and poetry readings, on the other, during the 1990s provided the initial impetus for my efforts to bring religion and literature in conversation in the form of the longer story that Spirit in the Dark narrates. Admittedly, the religious history of black letters from the 1920s to the early 1970s that I offer is colored by “presentist” concerns.

To state the matter differently, Spirit in the Dark grew out of my desire for a better historical understanding of how things—things religious and things literary—came to be the way they are. So another way to account for (rather than obscure) the play between past and present, the personal and the historical, in Spirit in the Dark is to acknowledge

Read the rest of Spirit in the Dark—An introduction.