This course will examine representative works of art that were produced by blacks in America during roughly the ten year period following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and what many have viewed as the end of the Civil Rights Movement. Looking at literary texts, popular music, and films in particular, as well as critical and journalistic commentary which they spawned, we will investigate responses to the opportunities and challenges faced by Blacks following the revolutionary decade if the 1960s. As implicit and explicit responses to (among other things) increasing numbers of Blacks entering into the educational, artistic, political, and economic mainstream, the literature, music, and film created during the 1970s reflected — and reflected upon — sometimes-volatile arguments taking place nationally over the meanings and practices of blackness in cities and regions throughout the United States. By looking critically at a selected number of texts and the debates in which they participate about class, gender, history, racial and national identity, family, romance, and other issues, our goal will be to consider the struggles to make or remake “the race” during the first decade in American history in which Afro-Americans were guaranteed equal rights under the laws of the world’s model democracy. Course requirements: a five page essay, a midterm examination, a final (10-15 page) research essay, frequent short writing exercises, and active class participation.
This course satisfies the American Literature and New Traditions requirements for English concentrators.