Fall 2022 Undergraduate English Courses

358:445 Seminar: Afro-Futurism

01   MW5   CAC   07925   KERNAN   HH-B4


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, and music–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 complete weekly short-responses and quizzes and to write one final paper (10 to 12 pages).