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The Library: Its Past, Present, and Future
CHUM 392
Fall 2024
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: ENGL 343, AFAM 393

The library is both a repository and a site for disciplining information. It is, at once, a space for democratizing knowledge and a locus of exclusion. A lifeline and a tomb. A place of radicalization and community, but also the handmaiden of state power. Indeed, the library's vexed role in the history of Western colonization has prompted scholars of African and postcolonial literature like Simon Gikandi to ask whether one can be a revolutionary in the library. This question has shaped the archiving sensibilities of African American collectors and librarians like Arthur Schomburg and Dorothy Porter Wesley as well as those of contemporary Black librarians and artists. This will be one of the central questions we explore in this course, too. We will examine artistic and literary representations of libraries, archives, and museums ("The Library of Babel," The Shadow Book, Lote, The Name of the Rose, Voyage of the Sable Venus, Yinka Shonibare's "The British Museum"), paying special attention to the fantasies, nightmares, and cultural narratives that cohere around the idea of the library. We will pay special attention to the place of the library in the Black literary imagination and to the theoretical and political interventions that Black librarians and bibliophiles brought into systems for categorizing and recovering knowledge.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA CHUM
Course Format: DiscussionGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None
Past Enrollment Probability: 50% - 74%

Last Updated on JUL-22-2024
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