How to Go Mad without Losing Your Mind: Madness and Black Radical Creativity


Product Details

Duke University Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.75 inches | 1.06 pounds

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About the Author

La Marr Jurelle Bruce is Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.


"The sheer range of academic discourses that Bruce engages--from disability studies and psychoanalysis to affect theory and black studies--is impressive enough. What Bruce does within their intersections, however, is create a kind of poetics of black madness--a way of looking that is itself a way a making; or maybe it's the converse--a way of making that is itself a way of looking. . . I can't predict the future, but it's so obvious to me that scholars will long be grateful for Bruce's expansive imagination and the careful attention paid to radical black creativity in this wildly astute and socially and emotionally conscious work."--Dawn Lundy Martin "4Columns" (4/30/2021 12:00:00 AM)
"Bruce's deft and thoughtful touch invites readers to dream loudly among a compendium of radical Black artists that few others would think about collectively. With subjects that range from early-twentieth-century jazz cornet player Buddy Bolden to contemporary rapper and composer Lauryn Hill (and many in between), Bruce's archive reflects the mindful mayhem at the center of his methodology. . . . Bruce's work closes with [this] imperative direction: 'Now let go.' But letting go of a book that feels both so present and so prescient may prove impossible."--Omari Weekes "Bookforum" (3/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"In La Marr Jurelle Bruce's How to Go Mad Without Losing Your Mind, we find ourselves in a dance with the mad. . . . [The] book is an analysis of praxis, a snap, a click, a break, an opening, a closing, the middle, the beyond, the here, the now, the then, and the there."--Michael Cordov "E3W Review of Books" (4/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"A paradigm-shaping book for future scholarship around mental difference. Bruce's book not only helps announce the emergence of [mad studies] but significantly advances the analytic, cultural, historical, and theoretical sophistication of mad scholarship...As a result, How to Go Mad is a must-read for those of us engaged in the intersectional politics and scholarship of difference."--Bradley E. Lewis "Journal of Medical Humanities" (3/29/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"Bruce articulates understandings of madness that encompass the lived experiences of Black, queer, and disabled people, putting forth a 'mad methodology' that capsizes dominant notions of social, political, economic normalcy, and ethics, and invites, for me, a new possibility of Afrofuturistic imagining. . . . [A] dynamic critical analysis of madcrazyBlackness that spans genre, medium, and epoch." --Victoria R. Collins "Electric Literature" (4/28/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"This melodic volume explores relationships between the surreal, impossible conditions (and conditions of impossibility) experienced by Black people and our radical, imaginative 'mad Black creativity.' Showing us 'lessons [we can] learn from those who make homeland in wasteland' as blueprints for freedom dreaming, Bruce picks apart the self-obscuring cultural and political forces that shape understandings of madness to disempower, disenfranchise, and control Black life and Being...It is ratchet. It is unruly. It is gorgeous."--Kia Darling-Hammond "Nonprofit Quarterly" (2/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"With a Walt Whitman-style expansiveness, Bruce wraps his arms around a multitude of creative genres and Black artists and then pulls us into his project of 'radical compassion' with mad subjects. Bruce's writing is both critical and compelling, analytical and yet intimate. . . . How to Go Mad without Losing Your Mind invites readers to sit with madness for a while, to explore its radical liberatory potential, and to become mad methodologists with radical compassion. Hold tight. Let go. And let this book take you there."--Elizabeth Donaldson "Disability Studies Quarterly" (5/5/2022 12:00:00 AM)

"How to Go Mad is a love story, a potent reflection on a few of the many Black creative minds who have innovated art forms and fashioned the trajectory of history, while having their 'sanity' called into question by normative, white, anti-Black, anti-Mad audiences and institutions."

--Liz Miller "Lateral" (10/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"This lyrical and profound tour de force explores the intersection of race and derailment, or 'madness as methodology.' We know that the traumatic discordance of slavery's enduring legacy manifests as both private sorrow and public health emergency. Yet that unyielding stress is sometimes also the forge of a radical black creativity vividly exceeding the shapeshifting states of un-Reason into which raced and nonnormative bodies are too relentlessly imagined and compressed. La Marr Jurelle Bruce has given a gift in this powerful recontextualization of black creative 'madness' as liberatory demand for expressive life--to wit, an aesthetic practice by which, ultimately, 'what is stolen is returned, and what is unwritten is at last inscribed.'"--Patricia J. Williams, columnist for "Diary of a Mad Law Professor" in The Nation
"How to Go Mad will undoubtedly influence conversations in black studies, science and technology studies, disability studies, and other fields. It is a lyrical, nuanced model of how radical care produces new approaches beyond the rehearsal of pathology."--Jacob Hood "Catalyst" (10/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"If we imagine Black studies to be a space of creativity where Black scholars break from disciplinary strictures and form, then this text is an exemplary practice...The writing is evocative and accessible for any of us who have felt searing rage and those whose waking hours are haunted by madness."--Hugo ka Canham "The Black Scholar" (6/5/2023 12:00:00 AM)
"One cannot read this work without also assembling its madness with the mad blue notes of Buddy Bolden, the crazy blues of Bessie Smith, the 'good at' madness of Ntozake Shange's Hyacinthe, the maddening black genius of Ms. Lauryn Hill, the unruly madness of Kanye West, or the 'mad real world' of Dave Chappelle. Bruce is not simply using these creative artists as case studies of madness dipped in black, but is presenting a terrain where the expanse of madness and blackness can only be read together--in this push and push, the fracture of Reason is revealed."--Dana Francisco Miranda "Blog of the APA" (4/25/2023 12:00:00 AM)