The aim of this seminar can be described as trying to figure out how poetry and poetics figure into the effort to theorize the African American subject in the 21st Century. At a time when the sheer number of African American poets publishing today (to say nothing of the major prizes they are winning) has exploded exponentially, why does poetry continue to be so marginal in African American literary and cultural studies? As we make our way through recently published anthologies of African American poetry, then turn to the works of individual poets, we will consider issues of influence, intertextuality, periodization, stylization, and tradition as they impact approaches to form, structure, and craft. Ultimately, however, we will focus on the question of why are these poets writing these poems at this particular time? Technologies like
PennSound and You Tube will provide important critical tools in our endeavorsand at various points during the term, guest lecturers will join our discussions.