African-American 498 - Special Topics in African American Studies

Black Aesthetics

Sonnet H. Retman

T, Th 1:30-3:20

Drawing on both multi-media and print sources, including fiction, poetry, prose, films, polemics, historiography and speeches, this course will explore the idea of a black aesthetic in various cultural, historical and political contexts within the 20th century. Specifically, we will focus on three moments of burgeoning black cultural production tied implicitly or explicitly to political or social movements that attempt to harness art as a vehicle for change: the New Negro Movement of the 1920s and 30s, the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 70s and the Post-Soul/ Post-Black movement of the present.

As we explore this series of debates about the possible grounds, contours and impact of black aesthetic practice waged by a range of activists, artists and intellectuals, we will consider works of art that push this lively, often heated conversation in new ways. We will analyze how particular notions of a black aesthetic construct racial politics through an engagement with class, gender, and sexuality.