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Experimental African American Poetry
/ AMST 307
/ ENGL 327
Contemporary African American poets in various cities and towns across the nation–from New York City to Los Angeles, from Berkeley to Durham, N.C.–are currently producing a vibrant and thriving body of formally experimental work, yet this poetry is largely unknown to readers both within and outside the academy. This formally innovative poetry defamiliarizes what we normally expect of “black writing” and pushes us to question our assumptions and presumptions about black identity, “identity politics,” the avant-garde (for example, is it implicitly raced?), formalism, socially “relevant” writing, the (false) dichotomy of form versus content, the black “community,” digital poetics, and other issues of race and aesthetics. We will examine the writings of living poets, who range widely in age, and those of their avant-garde predecessors in the twentieth century. We will also be making links between this poetry and African American music and visual art.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
two papers (6-8 pages and 8-10 pages), short response papers, oral presentation, and class participation
none, though at least one previous literature course preferred
American Studies majors
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST Arts in Context Electives
AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora