Racialized Chronologies: Alternative Temporal Structures in Contemporary Poetry (LIT2511.01)

Anaïs Duplan

Or, a study of why Black people are always late.

In 2019, curator Meg Onli presented a three-part exhibition, Colored People Time, at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.  Onli’s engagement with the phrase “colored people’s time” drew attention to the role of temporal structures in socioracial control. Similarly, scholars of African American Vernacular English ––such as the beloved poet and activist June Jordan––have drawn attention to the unique temporal opportunities of Black English, including tense structures (you stay doin’ that) that exist only there. Through a survey of Black contemporary poetry and theoretical writings on Black temporality, RACIALIZED CHRONOLOGIES seeks to articulate the temporally-based strategies of refusal emanant in Black poetry. Moving away and against punctuality, we survey the slow time of “racial melancholia” (in the words of  David L. Eng and Shinhee Han); the quickness of mania, neuroticism, and anxiety; and the cyclic nature of Black death and grief. So too we ruminate on Rasheedah Phillips’ concepts of “temporal abundance”, along with what Daylanne K. English calls “strategic anachronism” and “strategic presentism.”


Book list:

  • Hollywood Forever, Harmony Holiday
  • She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks, M. NourbeSe Philip
  • The Essential June Jordan, edited by Christoph Keller
  • the new black, Evie Shockley
  • Black Temporality in Times of Crisis, edited by Badia Ahad and Habiba Ibrahim
  • Each Hour Redeem: Time and Justice in African American Literature, Daylanne K. English
  • Queer Times, Black Futures, Kara Keeling

Learning Outcomes:
- Recognize strategies used by contemporary poets to convey time
- Describe and distinguish between different temporal treatments
- Convey the political ramifications of poetic-temporal structures

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 1:40PM - 3:30PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 35
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: All courses , Fully In-Person , Literature , Society Culture and Thought
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