Jonathan Flatley

Jonathan Flatley



Office Hours Fall 2017 Tuesdays 2:30 - 4:30 and W and Th by appointment

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Jonathan Flatley

Research Interest/Area of Expertise

  • Trained in Duke’s Graduate Program in Literature from 1990-1996, where I worked with Fredric Jameson and Eve Sedgwick, my research and teaching is committed to a comparative approach to the experience of modernity, focusing on the African American, American and Russian cultural traditions.  Art’s capacity to both represent and create collective affective experiences has been a constant focus of my work. These concerns can be seen in my first book, Affective Mapping: Melancholia and the Politics of Modernism (Harvard, 2008), which considers modernism’s relationship to the experiences of modernity through its preoccupation with loss. My second book, Like Andy Warhol (University of Chicago, 2017) examines Warhol’s “liking” and the queer utopian impulses animating it. I am now working on a book about black engagement with the ideas and example of Vladimir Lenin.  See more on this project below.


My current book project, *Black Leninism: How Revolutionary Counter-Moods Are Made* turns to the formidable resources of the black radical tradition in order to understand how it happens that variously depressed, stunned, and abused persons come together in solidarity to form newly energetic, hopeful, and demanding collectives, which then engage in transformative political action. From W.E.B. Du Bois to the Black Lives Matter movement, it examines the representation and creation of those moments when black people come together as a group for whom collective political action seems urgent, obvious, and vital, and when victory over the forces of white supremacy seems possible. I understand these ways of feeling and knowing the world as “counter-moods,” because the oppositional “we” they create must be awakened out of what Gwendolyn Brooks calls the “dry hours and the involuntary plan,” the “grayed in” humdrum of everyday life. For Brooks (who sought, following Amiri Baraka, to write poetry that would “call all black people”), as for the black radical tradition more generally, the key to producing such counter-moods is the representation of black people as a group to black people as a group. Black Leninism argues that this project of collective self-representation has been a central organizing principle of modern black intellectual and aesthetic production. It shows how the pursuit of this project entailed a surprisingly robust engagement with the work and example of Vladimir Lenin, revolutionary figure par excellence, whose ideas about the revolutionary party and revolutionary leadership, colonial self-determination, capitalist imperialism, and communist internationalism were all taken up by a wide range of black intellectuals, writers, artists, and activist groups.

Education – Degrees, Licenses, Certifications

  • 1996: Ph.D. Duke University, Graduate Program In Literature

Awards and Grants

  • 2017: Marilyn Williamson Endowed Distinguished Faculty Fellowship, Wayne State University Humanities Center
    2017: Tamiment Library (NYU) Cold War Center Travel Grant
    2014: Wayne State Research Enhancement Proposal Grant (REP) for “Black Leninism”
    2011: Wayne State Humanities Center Summer Research Fellowship
    2010: Wayne State University Board of Governors Faculty Recognition Award
    2010: Career Development Chair Award, Wayne State University
    2005: University Research Grant, Wayne State University
    2004: Wayne State Humanities Center Summer Research Fellowship
    2001: Fulbright Fellowship, Moscow, Russia
    1990-95: Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities

Selected Publications

Like Andy Warhol. University of Chicago Press, 2017.

Affective Mapping: Melancholia and the Politics of Modernism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008.


Currently Teaching

  •  ENG/AFS 2390 Introduction to African American Literature ("Black Lives Matter")