Black Literature and Film
This class will explore the intersections between race, literature, and film. We will study poetry, fiction, essays, and comics that draw on or are shaped by film; movie adaptations; films as literature; and hybrid, multimedia works. What can we learn from the dialogues and confrontations between African American literature and film? What does a literary or poetic film look like? What would filmic writing look like? In other words, how can film reshape writing, and vice versa? How can writing help us inhabit film differently, and how can filmic writing change the ways we read? We will think about how contemporary culture is shaped by and shapes multimedia work created by artists, speakers, writers, filmmakers, and activists. What are the possibilities and limitations of different media and forms—for example, what can film do and say that literature can’t, and vice versa?—and how does African American art exploit and explode the possibilities and limitations of medium and form? We will also ask questions about representation and the politics of art. In the wake of movements like #OscarsSoWhite, what is the artist’s and industry’s responsibility when it comes to addressing and responding to representation in contemporary culture? And how do artists experiment with the technologies and expectations of their media in order to change the ways we consume books and movies as well as the ways we perceive things like race, nation, culture, and history? As we engage with our primary materials, we will also delve into historical and theoretical conversations at the intersections of visual and cultural studies, media studies, race, and aesthetics. Along with the writers and filmmakers listed below, we will study music videos directed and shot by Alan Ferguson, Arthur Jafa, and Kahlil Joseph for artists like Solange, Beyoncé, and Flying Lotus.
Multicultural, Identity, Pluralism, and Tolerance (IP) courses examine the social construction of collective identities, the emergence of representative voices from varying social and cultural standpoints, and the effects of prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination. The purpose of courses in this category is to analyze the general principles underlying tolerance, or the lack of it.
US: Difference, Inequality, and Agency courses focus on race and ethnicity in the United States by considering two or more racial and ethnic groups.
Literature, 1789 to the present courses focus on literary work produced over more than two centuries -- from the period of British romanticism and the early republic of the United States up to now -- in order to foster familiarity with key works in British and American literary history. Literary history illustrates how literary works reflect, address, and resist the social and political environments in which they are produced as well as other works that have preceded them.
Empire, Race, and/or Ethnicity courses focus on ways that race matters in literature, media, and culture. Recent courses have examined such matters as native American literature and film; nineteenth-century writings by slavers and enslaved people in the U.S. and British colonies; fiction and filmmaking in post-apartheid South Africa; Latinx science fiction and environmental justice, and the novels of Toni Morrison.
English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts. The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.