Black Prometheus: Primitives, Pragmatists, and the Pluralistic Universe of Atlantic Radicalism


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation investigates how historical actors thought their way through and around the problem of evil in the face of that quintessential evil of modernity—racial slavery. More specifically, it examines the racial cosmologies that congealed around the figure of Prometheus in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century discourse of slavery, who, in his defiance of the divine order of things, became an icon not only of political revolution but antislavery agitation and slave rebellion as well. Ultimately, the project posits a common basis for Atlantic radicalism in a nonabsolutist conception of the divine, which brings intellectual formations as seemingly disparate as Afro-Atlantic polytheism, Romantic Prometheanism, and American pragmatism together in unforeseen ways.