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DOING OUR FIRST WORKS OVER: Reimagining Blackness, Sexuality, and the Sacre...

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Yale Divinity School

409 Prospect Street

New Haven, CT 06511

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DOING OUR FIRST WORKS OVER: Reimagining Blackness, Sexuality, and the Sacred


Responding to James Baldwin’s charge to “do our first works over,”* our All School Conference at Yale Divinity School will convene this fall to reexamine how theologians and students can “make our words more adequate to our realities and imaginations of life, death, and God.”**

Through work inspired by Black Thought, Queerist Belongings, and Atheological Intersections, we entreat the entire Yale Divinity School community to reflect on the relevant applications of multi-faith practices through the hermeneutics of black queer theology. Our keynote speakers represent various journeys including atheological, Buddhist, Catholic, Episcopalian, Jewish, and Orisa/Lucumi traditions.

The conference will be held on Friday, November 8th (2pm-6pm) to Saturday, November 9th (9:30am-5:30pm). The Community Life Committee of YDS will sponsor a dance party on Friday night at Gryphon (8pm-11pm). We encourage you to register by October 18th so that we may plan accordingly.

Our Keynote Speakers will be:
Dr. Amaryah Shaye Armstrong, Assistant Professor of Race in American Religion and Culture, Virginia Tech
Dr. Craig A. Ford, Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at St. Norbert College; YDS Alumnus
Dr. Renee L. Hill, Columbia University Community Scholar, Columbia University

We have invited dozens of YDS alumni to join this conversation with us and to facilitate our small groups. We anticipate a time of powerful sharing and networking.

We shall consider such questions posed by Professor Amaryah Shaye Armstrong in her article "Thinking Practice: Method, Pedagogy, Power and the Question of a Black Queer Theology“ as:
What has to die in our theology in order for a black queer theology to live?
What kind of methods, pedagogies, and power in black queer theology are adequate to our imaginations of truth and justice and love?
What does it mean to both retool Christian theological material and displace Christianity as governing the terms in which a black queer theology can be done?

How can the intersectional depth of this conversation clarify and strengthen our own callings as ministers and practitioners of faith and social justice? Instead of traditional forums and panels, we are convening young theologians and recent YDS alumni to engage in small group conversations with students that will investigate these topics and their applications within the academy and beyond YDS.

Visit https://campuspress.yale.edu/ydsallschool2019/ to familiarize yourself with the keynote speakers and alumni. We hope that you will be able to prepare by reading some of the participants’ works, especially Professor Armstrong’s article mentioned above.


*from his writings in The Price of the Ticket; James Baldwin wrote about “do[ing] our first works over.” “In the church I come from—which is not at all the same church to which white Americans belong—we were counseled, from time to time, to do our first works over.” “Go back to where you started, or as far back as you can, examine all of it, travel your road again and tell the truth about it. Sing or shout or testify or keep it to yourself,” Baldwin says, “but know whence you came.[1] Doing first works over means to reexamine everything from its onset and tell the truth about it, as best we can.
**(Armstrong 9)
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Yale Divinity School

409 Prospect Street

New Haven, CT 06511

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