Spring 2022 Undergraduate English Courses

358:381 Black Speculative and Science Fiction from 1920 to the Present

01  TTH6  5:40-7:00PM   CAC  08260    CLEMONS    MU-210

Black Speculative and Science Fiction from 1920 to the Present

One century after the Harlem Renaissance and the boom of Detroit’s Black Bottom, this generation has begun to witness a new era, in which art, innovation, technology, and social consciousness converge. At the helm of this revolution are Black speculative and science fiction writers and cultural producers who summon the spectral and the automated to critique U.S. society and politics. Hortense Spillers points out that “the melding of the familiar and the strange is not only the essence of the marvelous but the very ground of the uncanny, which returns us to what we know in a way that we had not known and experienced before” (4). Thus, this course investigates how writers use the strange and familiar, the past and the future, and the stranger and the ancestor to address the relentless, often state-sanctioned, erasure of Black lands and violence against Black bodies. Through a survey of the Afrofuturistic and Afro Gothic, this course frames both genres as critical aesthetics and methodologies. Students will consider how writers recover, retain, and reimagine Black migrants’ experiences within the contexts of race, gender, class, sexuality, and geography. This student discussion-based course employs a breadth of canonical and understudied Black speculative and science fiction writers who underscore Black pain, trauma, and dispossession.

Students will investigate issues such as:
• Black Community building as cultural retention
• Lost and erased histories of former Black towns
• Policing, Surveillance, and Sundown towns
• Place and nonplace as paradox
• Belonging and Identity

Spanning 1920 to present-day, authors that students may explore are W.E.B. DuBois, Octavia Butler, J. California Cooper, Sheree R. Thomas, Dolen Perkins Valdez, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Toni Morrison, and Dominique Morisseau. Texts will be paired with films such as Black Panther, Get Out, Us, Lovecraft Country, Candyman, and Dirty Computer. Scholars may include Mark Dery, Samuel R. Delany, Marlene Barr, Mark Fisher, Joanne Chassot, and Ytasha Womack. Assignments will be comprised of class participation, discussion posts, reading quizzes, film reviews, and a collaborative final project.