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Undergraduate English Courses Spring 2018

358:371 Black Poetry

01  TTH6  CAC  19032  SHOCKLEY  SC-105

Black Poetry: Afro-past and Afro-future

In this course, we will focus on the poetry of five important poets of African descent: Langston Hughes, Robert Hayden, Lucille Clifton, Tracy K. Smith, and Douglas Kearney.  Our work will be to come to understand the ways that each is both representative of the African American poetic tradition and a unique contributor to that collective body of poetry.  In the process, we will tackle the question of what is “black” about each poet’s writing.  As we move with these five poets through the past one hundred years (1918-2018) in African American literary history, we will travel, via their poems, much farther and wider in time and space.  How and when and where do they imagine black people to be?  What connects black people across these distances?  Let’s learn some of the ways that poems create and carry culture, in the challenging and rich contexts in which these poets lived and live.

Course evaluation will be based on regular attendance and active participation in class; consistent engagement with (reading, thinking about, and writing on) the assigned materials; two formal papers; and a class presentation.