Spring 2019 not offered
Mainstream readings of the African American literary and cultural canon have tended to emphasize texts with a social realist bent, those that present their audience with a supposedly "authentic" version of the African American experience. However, as cultural critic Greg Tate observes, 20th-century African American literary history includes "huge dollops of fantasy, horror, and science fiction" because, in his view, "Black people live the estrangement that science fiction writers imagine." While Tate's statement perhaps overly generalizes the black experience, there seems to be something to his notion that, in part because of the fact that they were forced to live an often "alienated" experience in America, there has always been a strong element of the speculative in black literary and cultural expression. This course traces this under-examined speculative strain in 20th and 21st-century African American literature, music, film, and visual art, as black artists explore, or speculate, on the possibilities that imagining alternative realities and modes of living open up. The course will focus especially on speculative and Afrofuturist aesthetics as they manifest in hip hop music and culture. We will examine the ways that black artists have employed elements of the speculative genres in order to re-envision the African American past, present, and future--rendering versions of historical African American experience and subjectivity that exceed traditional notions of "authenticity," complicating contemporary regimes of identification, and presenting alternative visions of the futures of blackness.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Lecture / Discussion||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None
Sheree Thomas, DARK MATTER: A CENTURY OF SPECULATIVE FICTION FROM THE AFRICAN DIASPORA
George Schuyler, BLACK NO MORE
Octavia Butler, PARABLE OF THE SOWER
Paul Beatty, THE SELLOUT
|Examinations and Assignments: |
Two written essays of progressively increasing length and a final project. Short written reading responses, in-class presentations.
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