Fall 2020 Undergraduate English Courses

358:445 Seminar: Afro-Futurism

01   MW5   CAC   05689   KERNAN   MU-204

In the words of Mark Dery, Afrofuturism "treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the context of 20th century technoculture and, more generally, African-American signification that appropriate images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future." First and foremost, then, during this seminar, we will take up the connections between African-American signification and technoculture. Over the course of the semester, we will look at a series of texts–short stories, novels, comics, film, music and web images–through the prism of Afrofuturism. We will explore the themes and tropes of this multimedia movement as well as its artistic and political stakes, and will arrive at some conclusions about how to define it. Questions we will explore together include: What does it mean to be non- or post-human while black? What does it mean to think “future” in a world of black death? How do key theories of black cultural production help us think about the work and temporality of Afrofuturism? What are the major debates within Afrofuturism? What is the role of queerness in Afrofuturist production? What is the role of the global in Afrofuturist production? In addition to their engaged participation, students will be required to give one in-class presentation, to complete one midterm exercise (5-6 pages), and to write one final paper (10 to 12 pages).