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17th Annual Bishop E.T. Dixon Lecture

Bishop E.T. Dixon Lecture

Mad with Supernatural Joy: A Meditation on Our Spiritual Strivings

This lecture offers an extended meditation on the ambivalence of W.E.B DuBois’s description of the “frenzy” of slave religion as “awful” in his classic Souls of Black Folks. Drawing this reflection on DuBois into the contemporary moment, the lecture will discuss the ongoing significance of “our spiritual strivings”- especially imagining, holding, and expanding space for “Black joy” as a religious and cultural praxis of resistance and care- in the wake of the maddening effects of persistent state-sponsored violence against the bodies and souls of Black folk.

Dr. Michael Brandon McCormack is Associate Professor of Pan-African Studies and Comparative Humanities (Religious Studies) and Director of the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research at the University of Louisville. He earned his Ph.D. in Religion in 2013 from Vanderbilt University.

His research explores the intersections between Black religion, popular culture, the arts, and activism. He teaches courses in African American religion, religions of the African diaspora, and religion and hip-hop culture.  In 2021, he was an inaugural Ascending Stars Fellow at the University of Louisville and an Academic Research Fellow at the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis. He is currently a member of the Black Interfaith Project, a national network of academics, artists, and activists engaged in research and action around the role of Black religious and spiritual practices in movements for social justice.

His work has been published in Black Theology: An International Journal, the Journal of Africana Religions, and as book chapters in numerous scholarly journals and edited volumes, including the inaugural volume of the Morehouse College King Collection Series on Civil & Human Rights. His most recent research focuses on the relationships between religion and discourses of afro-pessimism, afro-futurism, “Black optimism,” and notions of “Black joy” as resistance.