In Thinking through Crisis, James Edward Ford III examines the works of Richard Wright, Ida B Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes during the 1930s, in order to articulate a materialist theory of trauma. Ford highlights the dark proletariat’s emergence from the multitude apposite to white supremacist agendas. In these works, Ford argues, proletarian, modernist, and surrealist aesthetics transform fugitive slaves, sharecroppers, leased convicts, levee workers, and activist intellectuals into protagonists of anti-racist and anti-capitalist movements in the United States.
Thinking through Crisis intervenes in debates on the 1930s, radical subjectivity, and states of emergency. It will be of interest to scholars of American literature, African American literature, proletarian literature, Black Studies, trauma theory, and political theory.
James Edward Ford's erudition is critical and compositional. Thinking Through Crisis teaches us to reread texts that are, now, in his placement of them alongside one another, emanations of a larger, refolded, unfolding topography of twentieth century radical thought. This is a welcome and unique accomplishment. Ford is a sharp and adventurous thinker and Thinking Through Crisis expresses his gifts with profound, difficult beauty.
Fred Moten, New York University