WGSS 380
Amiri Baraka and Audre Lorde Fall 2014
Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Cross-listed AFR 382 / AMST 380 / ENGL 380 / WGSS 380
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

In both literary content and political disposition, Audre Lorde and Amiri Baraka were radically different people. Lorde was a queer feminist icon credited with furthering the concepts of intersectional identity and black feminism, while Baraka was accused throughout his career of obliviously brazen machismo and criticized for his use of homophobic invective. Baraka endorsed the very notions of leadership and community from which Lorde crafted an identity of marginality, and Lorde endorsed a community-bound poetics contrasted to Baraka’s avant-gardism. But for all their differences, Lorde and Baraka were arguably the two most significant African American writers of the late twentieth century, and, however surprisingly, they staked similar conceptual territory, addressing such themes as the possibility of spiritual self-discovery, the possibility of liberatory consciousness, the significance of emotions in building community, and the relationship between sexuality and racial identity. We will explore such issues by way of closely attending to their texts, and since another similarity between them was a prolific range of genre, we will have the opportunity to delve into poetry, essays, fiction, drama, and memoir, with a slight but definite preference for their poetry. We will also place these writers in their political and philosophical contexts, sampling secondary sources on the Black Arts movement, queer theory, contemporary American and African American poetry, and transnational black studies. As we will be discussing two writers whose collective contribution to minority discourse is nothing short of monumental, our course will participate in the College’s Exploring Diversity Initiative. Specifically, this EDI course will emphasize the ongoing historical negotiation between blackness and white supremacy in the contemporary period, in addition to the relationship between queer sexuality and blackness.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 1970
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: one 5-page paper and one 8- to 10-page paper, and steady and thoughtful class participation
Prerequisites: a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam
Enrollment Preferences: English majors
Distributions: Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under ENGL; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under AFR, AMST or WGSS
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AFR 382 Division II AMST 380 Division II ENGL 380 Division I WGSS 380 Division II
Attributes: ENGL Literary Histories C

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