AMST 307
Experimental African American Poetry Fall 2019
Division II
Cross-listed AFR 301 / AMST 307 / ENGL 327

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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.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 1029
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: two papers (6-8 pages and 8-10 pages), short response papers, oral presentation, and class participation
Prerequisites: none, though at least one previous literature course preferred
Enrollment Preferences: American Studies majors
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AFR 301 Division II AMST 307 Division II ENGL 327 Division I
Attributes: AMST Arts in Context Electives
AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora

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