Problems in the Interpretation of African American Poetry
During the 20th Century, Black poets have been engaged in a constant struggle for adequate critical attention and public exposure. And despite their use of a variety of styles, techniques, forms, and idioms, African American poetry is often viewed in the narrowest of terms: as angry, as solely protest-oriented, and as anti-white. In this advanced seminar, we will read the works of numerous Black poets, along with essays and interviews highlighting the poetic issues informing their work. Poets studied in the course will include Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Sterling A. Brown, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, Rita Dove, Michael S. Harper, Lucille Clifton, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Cornelius Eady. There will be class visits from established poets, as well as field trips to readings. Coursework will consist of several short papers and a longer seminar paper.