Joseph Richard Winters

Joseph Richard Winters

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

External address: 
710 Sidepark Street, Durham, NC 27703
Internal Office Address: 
118 Gray Building, Box 90964, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 423-1911


Joseph Winters is an assistant professor of Religious Studies with a secondary position in the Department of African and African American Studies. His interests lie in African-American Religious Thought, Religion and Critical Theory, Af-Am Literature, and Continental philosophy. Overall, his project is concerned with troubling and expanding our understanding of black religiosity and black piety by drawing on resources from Af-Am literature, philosophy, and critical theory. Some of the questions that guide his research include: How does the term "black religion" signify the inextricable relationship between religion, race, and modern notions of the human? What themes, tropes, and concerns connect Af-Am religious thought and other critical discourses like post-structuralism or psychoanalytic thought? How does literature, film, or music enable us to think differently about themes that inform African-American religious thought -- tragedy, liberation, hope, home, transgression, loss, transcendence, intersectionality (relationship between race, class, gender, sexuality, and other markers of identity)? How do concepts like the "sacred and profane" draw us to sites of religiosity both inside and outside of traditional institutions and spaces like the church? Winters teaches and writes about religion and hip hop, religion, race, and film, critical approaches to religious studies, and the general connections between black studies and critical theory.

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.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Princeton University 2009
  • B.A., Harvard University 1999