Derrais Carter

Associate Professor

Derrais (sounds like Paris) Carter is an interdisciplinary scholar and artist. His scholarly and creative work plays in the vibrant realms of Black Critical Theory, Black Queer Studies, and Black Popular Culture, Narrative Theory, and Cultural History.

Carter has just published Black Revelry: In Honor of the Sugar Shack, a book-album built around Ernie Barnes’ painting The Sugar Shack. Collaborating with writers, visual artists, dancers and a dj, the projects delights in the ways a painting reflects and animates various renderings of Black social life and intimacy. This project is also the basis for Carter’s limited-run radio show Black Revelry Quiet Storm which aired in Los Angeles, Berlin, and Amsterdam from December 2020 through February 2021. The broadcasts can be found here: gatheringdispersal | frequency.

Concurrently, Carter is completing Marvin Gaye’s I Want You for Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. The book advances a Black queer engagement with Gaye’s album, paying special attention to the ways fulfillment and fantasy animate our listening to his sounding of desire. A departure from strictly biographical accounts, this is a book that wants to “work on you” like Gaye’s album does.

Lastly, Carter is completing his beautifully unwieldy manuscript titled Obscene Material: Black Girls, Aesthetic Refusal, and the Moens Affair (UNC Press). Blending historical methods, critical theory and Black girlhood studies, Obscene Material advances a Black feminist narration of a 1919 obscenity scandal involving Black girls living in Washington, D.C. who survived the vicious attacks of Herman Marie Bernelot Moens, a Dutch man who posed as an anthropologist to photograph them and assault them in the supposed name of science. Carter employs redaction, speculation, and narrative digression, techniques he names aesthetic refusals to obstruct and circumvent the display and vivid description of Black girl’s bodies. As a mode of Black feminist narration, then, aesthetic refusals remind the reader of Black girls’ encounters with power while also providing a narrative landscape for thinking and feeling beyond said encounters.

A sampling of Dr. Carter’s creative writing and media appearances can be found below: