Joseph Richard Winters

Joseph Richard Winters

Associate Professor of African and African American Studies

External Address: 
303 Silverhawk Lane, Durham, NC 27703
Internal Office Address: 
118 Gray Building, Box 90964, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 423-1911


Joseph Winters is the Alexander F. Hehmeyer Associate Professor of Religious Studies and African and African American Studies. He also holds secondary positions in English and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. His interests lie at the intersection of black religious thought, African-American literature, and critical theory. Overall, his project expands conventional understandings of black religiosity and black piety by drawing on resources from Af-Am literature, philosophy, and critical theory. His research examines how literature, film, and music (especially hip hop) can reconfigure our sense of the sacred and imagination of spirituality. 

Winters' first book, Hope Draped in Black: Race, Melancholy, and the Agony of Progress (Duke University Press, June 2016) examines how black literature and aesthetic practices challenge post-racial fantasies and triumphant accounts of freedom. The book shows how authors like WEB Du Bois and Toni Morrison link hope and possibility to melancholy, remembrance, and a recalcitrant sense of the tragic. His second book project (under contract with Duke University Press) is called Disturbing Profanity: Hip Hop, Black Aesthetics, and the Volatile Sacred.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Princeton University 2009

  • B.A., Harvard University 1999

Zamalin, A., et al. “Toni Morrison and political theory.” Contemporary Political Theory, vol. 19, no. 4, Dec. 2020, pp. 704–29. Scopus, doi:10.1057/s41296-020-00397-2. Full Text