UA School of Sociology Brown Bag and the Gender, Race, and Power Series Presents: Freeden Blume Oeur

Talk Title:

"Fever Dreams: COVID-19 and the Racial Trauma of Lynching"


In 1899, diphtheria, the horrible disease once known as “the strangling angel of children," claimed the life of W. E. B. Du Bois’s first-born child, Burghardt. How can Burghardt’s death help us to understand the racialized consequences of the present coronavirus pandemic? My presentation considers what Du Bois described as the “phantasmagoria” that ensnares racial structures. I examine COVID as the latest iteration of a distinctly racialized American trauma narrated in the grammar of Du Bois’s reflections on disease, extrajudicial killings, and kinship. This fever dream of conflagration and asphyxia has haunted the national imagination since slavery. Du Bois gave meaning to this racial specter in religious terms as a story of perpetual death but eventual emancipation. My presentation, which ruminates on the legacy of slavery with regard to disease and its symbiotic relationship with lynching, is part of a larger effort to use Du Bois’s literary psychology to re-imagine the sociological imagination as what I am calling "the sociological dream."


Zoom Link:



Noon to 1:20 p.m. Friday