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Topics in Contemporary American Literature

ENGL 285.401
instructor(s):
TR 10:30-12

In this course, we will examine contemporary African American expressive culture, by which I mean the artistic rendering of "black" sounds and images during the period between Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in April of 1968 and the present. Engaging musical, literary, intellectual/academic, and filmic representations produced during the last three decades, we will attempt to explore how such representations reflect their artists' (and their time's) notions of the meanings of blackness and americanness, of masculinity and femininity, as well as the significance of sexuality, class, and region to our comprehension of Afro-American identity. We will be attentive here as much to the differences among as the commonalities between these formulations in the hope we will be able to examine the complexity of contemporary black American subjectivity. Required reading/viewing/listening will include: NEW DAY IN BABYLON (Van de Burg); SONG OF SOLOMON (Morrison); THE DEATH OF RHYTHM AND BLUES (George); BLACK AMERICAN CINEMA (Diawara, ed.); films by Spike Lee, John Singleton, the Hughes Brothers, and Julie Dash; and a range of music from Motown to the present. Course requirements: two papers (4-6 and 7-10 pages); one presentation; one annotated bibliography; and a final examination.