Taking a philosophical look at black music

Groups of students entering and leaving a building

U

niversity of Connecticut philosophy professor Lewis Gordon will present the 35th annual Alfred P. Stiernotte Lecture, “A Philosophical Look at Black Music,” at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, September 23, in the Mount Carmel Auditorium.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

A philosopher and musician, Gordon is honorary president of the Global Center for Advanced Studies and honorary professor in the Unit for the Humanities at Rhodes University in South Africa. In addition, he serves as Chair of Global Collaborations for the Caribbean Philosophical Association.

Gordon’s most recent books are his co-edited anthology, “Geopolitics and Decolonization: Perspectives from the Global South,” his forthcoming monograph, “Fear of Black Consciousness,” and his collection of essays, “On Philosophy, Decolonization, and Race.”

Gordon performs music in blues, jazz, and alternative rock bands and speaks as a public intellectual across the globe.

Born from the misery of enslavement, black music is at its core an assertion of freedom in countries that refused to admit the humanity and value of black people, according to Gordon.  His talk will examine the philosophical implications of the music, the context of its birth, and some ways in which its origins often lead to misunderstanding its continued value. The discussion will involve exploring, in philosophical terms, some of the dynamics of spirituals, blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, rock, reggae, and hip hop.

“In these troubled times, as we engage with issues of identities, oppression, enslavement and liberation, the turn to music provides a unique perspective through which to view current and ongoing challenges,” said Anat Biletzki, the Schweitzer Professor of Philosophy at Quinnipiac. “Having Lewis Gordon here to instruct us on these topics with his philosophical and musical sensitivities is of great significance.”

The Stiernotte lecture series is named in honor of the late Alfred P. Stiernotte, who initiated the teaching of philosophy at Quinnipiac more than 50 years ago, and has been funded largely from an endowment provided by his estate. The lecture is traditionally one of the first academic events of the year.