New Book: The Black Radical Tragic

Performance, Aesthetics, and the Unfinished Haitian Revolution by Jeremy Matthew Glick

As the first successful revolution emanating from a slave rebellion, the Haitian Revolution remains an inspired site of investigation for a remarkable range of artists and activist-intellectuals in the African Diaspora.
In The Black Radical Tragic, Jeremy Matthew Glick examines twentieth-century performances engaging the revolution as laboratories for political thinking. Asking readers to consider the revolution less a fixed event than an ongoing and open-ended history resonating across the work of Atlantic world intellectuals, Glick argues that these writers use the Haitian Revolution as a watershed to chart their own radical political paths, animating, enriching, and framing their artistic and scholarly projects. Spanning the disciplines of literature, philosophy, and political thought, The Black Radical Tragic explores work from Lorraine Hansberry, Sergei Eisenstein, Edouard Glissant, Malcolm X, and others, ultimately enacting a speculative encounter between Bertolt Brecht and C.L.R. James to reconsider the relationship between tragedy and revolution. In its grand refusal to forget, The Black Radical Tragic demonstrates how the Haitian Revolution has influenced the ideas of freedom and self-determination that have propelled Black radical struggles throughout the modern era.


  • “Jeremy Matthew Glick’s The Black Radical Tragic is a book we were all waiting for without knowing it….[Glick] combines here a sober and ruthless insight into the necessary tragic twists of the revolutionary process with the unconditional fidelity to this process. He stands as far as possible from the standard ‘anti-totalitarian’ claim that, since every revolutionary process is destined to degenerate, it’s better to abstain from it. This readiness to take the risk and engage in the battle, although we know that we will probably be sacrificed in the course of the struggle, is the most precious insight for us who live in new dark times.”

    —Slavoj Zizek, Los Angeles Review of Books

  • “Grappling with the continuing reverberations of the Haitian Revolution in our present, Jeremy Matthew Glick’s The Black Radical Tragic defines the notion of the tragic within the black radical tradition with remarkable insights and impressive breadth. An engagingly written text that will shape not only how we think about the centrality of the Haitian Revolution but also questions of the modern in political thought.”

    —Anthony Bogues, Brown University

  • The Black Radical Tragic is infused with questions of memory, revolution, and how these concepts interact with one another across history. With rigorous attunement to the various registers in which revolt is recalled and recited, Jeremy Matthew Glick charts the Haitian revolution as an extended, ongoing historical moment of fugitive insurgency, the open culmination of the terrible and beautiful interplay of enlightenment and darkness. A brilliant and necessary book.”

    —Fred Moten, author of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition

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