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Twenty-First Century African American Literature and Theory

ENGL 770.401
crosslisted as: AFRC 770
instructor(s):
Wednesday, 3:00-6:00pm

This seminar will focus on the new literary voices emerging in the twenty-first century and writers whose twenty-first century art is the late stage of their larger literary flow. We will also study new directions in black critical theory in the early twenty-first century. How does Elizabeth Alexander’s poem “Praise Song for the Day,” written for the first inauguration of Barack Obama, relate to Amiri Baraka’s 9/11 poem “Somebody Blew Up America”? The frameworks of the seminar will include the post-neo-slave narrative, the poetics of the “new black,” black abstraction, twenty-first century practices of the black diaspora, and the recent African American literary turn to the satirical. Recently published critical texts such as Black Bourgeois: Class and Sex in the Flesh, Hope Draped in Black, and The Black Shoals: Offshore Formations of Black and Native Studies will set us in motion. The primary texts may include Danzy Senna’s You Are Free, Letters to the Future: Black Women/Radical Writing, Evie Shockley’s The New Black, Michael Thomas’ Man Gone Down, Percival Everett’s So Much Blue, Daniel Black’s Perfect Peace, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, and Toni Morrison’s A Mercy and God Help the Child.