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(Il)Legible Blackness

ENGL 770.401
crosslisted as: COMM834, ANTH834
instructor(s):
M 10-12

 

The primary listing for this course is COMM834:401.

Mark Anthony Neal

Professor, African & African-American Studies

Director, The Institute of Critical U.S. Studies

Duke University

Course Description (Il)Legible Blackness

The racial stereotypes that circulate in American culture in relation to black bodies (the bodies of those of African descent) are premised, in part, on the idea that said black bodies are legible to the average American.
Thus black bodies represent sites of certain presumptions about those embodied in blackness-and given the realities of racial and gendered bias and homophobia-those presumptions are rarely rooted in progressive notions of black humanity. The course "(Il)Legible Blackness" will complicate readings of blackness (as embodied in various popular performances) by rendering "legible" performances of blackness-black criminality and black sexuality for example-as illegible, while also identifying so-called "illegible" performances of blackness-hardcore rappers as cosmopolitan queers, for instance-and rendering them legible.

In order to engage in acts that render blackness legible and illegible, the course will examine contemporary and emergent theorists and practitioners of black aesthetics including Fred Moten, Darius James, Kara Walker, Barkley Hendrix, Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Judith Halberstam, Robert Reid-Pharr, Michael Ray Charles, John L. Jackson, Jr., Verhsawn Young, Tommy Lott, E.Patrick Johnson, Kimberly Bentson, Roderick Ferguson, Meshell Ndegeocello, Jay Z, the DeepDickollective, Danny Hoch, and Dave Chappelle.