Theories of the Black Avant-Garde
And belonging? They were past it. It was not wide enough, not gap enough, not distance enough. Not rip enough, belonging. --Dionne Brand, In Another Place, Not Here
The most ripped-up current black critical theory offers new ways of interpreting black avant-garde literature. This seminar will shift from critical texts to black experimental literary texts. Through the lens of the most current, cutting-edge zone of black critical theory, we will read some of the most avant-garde work of the 1920s and 30s Harlem Renaissance, the 1960s and 70s global Black Arts Movement, and the 21st century “new black/post-soul/post-black” zone.
The critical texts will include Michael North’s The Dialect of Modernism, Omise’eke Tinsley’s Ezili's Mirrors: Imagining Black Queer Genders, Nadia Ellis’s Territories of the Soul, Fred Moten’s In the Break, Calvin Warren’s Ontological Terror, and Stephen Best’s None Like Us: Blackness, Belonging, Aesthetic Life. Likely primary texts include Jean Toomer’s Cane, Amiri Baraka’s In Our Terribleness, Ama Ata Aidoo’s Our Sister Killjoy, Harryette Mullen’s Sleeping with the Dictionary, Dambudzo Marechera’s The House of Hunger, Percival Everett’s Erasure, Evie Shockley’s The New Black, and Nathaniel Mackey’s Splay Anthem.