The Lonely Letters

The Lonely Letters

Ashon Crawley reads from The Lonely Letters on YouTube.
Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 19 color illustrations Published: April 2020

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies, Religious Studies

In The Lonely Letters, A tells Moth: “Writing about and thinking with joy is what sustains me, daily. It nourishes me. I do not write about joy primarily because I always have it. I write about joy, Black joy, because I want to generate it, I want it to emerge, I want to participate in its constant unfolding.” But alongside joy, A admits to Moth, come loneliness, exclusion, and unfulfilled desire. The Lonely Letters is an epistolary blackqueer critique of the normative world in which Ashon T. Crawley—writing as A—meditates on the interrelation of blackqueer life, sounds of the Black church, theology, mysticism, and love. Throughout his letters, A explores blackness and queerness in the musical and embodied experience of Blackpentecostal spaces and the potential for platonic and erotic connection in a world that conspires against blackqueer life. Both a rigorous study and a performance, The Lonely Letters gestures toward understanding the capacity for what we study to work on us, to transform us, and to change how we inhabit the world.


“Ashon T. Crawley pushes his readers to contemplate the intimacy of living the life of the mind as a spiritual, enfleshed, and intellectual matter. Rejecting the intellect/emotion division through a rendering of intimacy and desire, The Lonely Letters stands as the achievement of aspirations long discussed but largely elusive in both feminist and queer criticism. A stunning and innovative work.” — Imani Perry, author of Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation

The Lonely Letters is a joyful mourning, a celebratory treatise, a rigorous performance, and an analysis of race and philosophy, aesthetics and blackness, and much more. I could not put it down and at points found myself laughing and in tears, all the while learning. Truly pathbreaking, it is an astounding, innovative, and deeply affecting work.” — Nicole R. Fleetwood, author of On Racial Icons: Blackness and the Public Imagination

"Crawley’s incantatory repetitions and vertiginous shifts of topic and tone perform the entangled Blackpentecostal aesthetics he strives to describe, making it quite unlike other academic texts. In his rendering, Blackpentecostal expressive practices – specific approaches to musical performance, poetry, painting, dance, everyday speech, etc.—enable those who become entangled to experience the world in a new way. And in The Lonely Letters, Ashon Crawley achieves the remarkable by putting this insight into practice, by enacting as well as describing Blackpentecostalism." — Jesse Chevan, Current Musicology


Availability: In stock
Price: $26.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ashon T. Crawley is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and African American Studies at the University of Virginia and author of Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility.

Table of Contents Back to Top
and  1
breath  13
shouting  25
noise  87
tongues  145
nothing  207
acknowledgments  251
notes  257
index  265
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top