Professor Carpio will discuss Kara Walker’s controversial sculpture, ‘A Subtlety’, a monumental sugar covered sphinx that drew 130,000 viewers while on a two month display last year at the now demolished Domino sugar factory in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Intended as a tribute to African American women involved in the 19th century sugar trade, the sculpture has raised burning questions about art, slavery, and capitalism. But it is also a sculpture that, from the title on, deploys Walker’s sharp wit and black humor.
Situating Walker in the context of African American comedic practices, Professor Carpio will discuss the risks and possibilities of using humor to redress the horrors of slavery and its legacy.
Glenda R. Carpio is Professor of African and African American Studies and English at Harvard University. Her book, Laughing Fit to Kill: Black Humor in the Fictions of Slavery was published by Oxford University Press and she is currently working on a book about immigration, expatriation, and exile in American literature. Professor Carpio recently co-edited African American Literary Studies: New Texts, New Approaches, New Challenges with Werner Sollors. She has been named one of The Root’s 100 top African American ‘achievers and influencers’.