Out of Dark Noise: The History of Black Documentary Poetics (LIT4357.01)

Anaïs Duplan

“Dark noise,” as Black video artist Lawrence Andrews calls it, is an alternate truth-building system. The idea of dark noise indicates a sort of failed consensual reality, or in Audre Lorde’s terminology, a “chaos of knowledge.” Dark noise is the area outside of the state-sanctioned truth that the justice system, for instance, relies upon. As such, we will use the phrase “dark noise” to describe the works of Black experimental documentarians whose decolonized creative approaches have generated novel spaces of cultural memory. Much of this cultural memory is made up of written documents—from the legal certificates that define us to the collections of creative writings that inspire us. As we will explore, these documents always bear the markers of power. Working within the framework of documentary poetics, creative writers have an ethical obligation to examine and disclose their participation in social systems, creating sites of engaged witness and knowledge production via their creative output. As a class, we will appreciate poetics itself as an integral part of the body politic, tracing the contributions of Black writers, visual artists, and musicians to the field of documentary poetics since the 1960s. Students will work toward the completion of a final interdisciplinary docupoetic work, writing regular critical responses along the way.

Learning Outcomes:

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Submit a statement of interest in the class and 3-4 poems or a critical writing sample via this form by February 3, 2022.
Corequisites: Students must attend all Literature evenings and Poetry at Bennington events, Wednesday nights at 7pm.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
T 2:10PM - 5:50PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: One time only

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