This course will focus on the history and practice of the black aesthetic, as it has been defined by African Americans from three incarnations: slave narratives, the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s and 30’s and the Black Arts Movement of the 1960’s and its evolution thru the end of the 20th Century. There will be assigned readings from various literary critics, scholars and artists on the concept of the ‘black aesthetic’ and how their work has helped to define the complexities of black life.
The goal of the class is to introduce students to the ‘black aesthetic’ tradition and its crucial role in the continuing conversation of race in the 21st Century. Texts will include New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement, edited by Lisa Collins & Margo Crawford, and Afro-American Poetics: Revisions of Harlem and the Black Aesthetic by Houston Baker. Additional readings (e.g., excerpts from books and articles) will be assigned and handed out as the semester progresses.