Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

20th-Century African American Poetry

ENGL 288.401

As it has evolved during the 20th Century, poetry by Americans of African descent has demonstrated as great a concern with issues of form, technique, and language as that written by any other group in the United States. And yet, African American poetry is engaged in a constant negotiation for adequate critical and academic space. In this seminar, we will take up these issues in both their modern and postmodern settings. We will pay a great deal of attention to context: history, music, spirituality, and sexuality, as we investigate the politics of interpretation and audience. Poets studied in the course will include Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Sterling A. Brown, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, Ai, Lucille Clifton, Robert Hayden, Michael S. Harper, Elizabeth Alexander, Terrance Hayes, and Cornelius Eady. Coursework will consist of several short papers and a longer critical paper or final project.

Fulfills Cultural Diversity in U.S. requirement.

fulfills requirements
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major