AMCULT 699 - Periods in American Culture: Literary
Section: 003
Term: FA 2018
Subject: American Culture (AMCULT)
Department: LSA American Culture
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Graduate standing; upperclass standing with permission of instructor.
May be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

In and Out of the Burning House, or Reading Black Queerness in James Baldwin's Works This course invites you to focus on close and interdisciplinary readings of major texts by the famous African American writer, James Baldwin (1924-87) -- novels, short stories, essays, poems, and at least one play. We will discuss his craft in terms of genre, narrative technique, and thematic preoccupation in the context of American and African American literary and cultural traditions, as well as interrogating the contentious history of scholarship on and public reception of his works and persona as a black queer activist and, often contentious, transnational artist. Some of our theoretical preoccupations will include the ways in which Baldwin’s works script/construct (African) Americanness (and blackness as an aesthetic) as a spatially contingent concept. While delving into how he theorizes intersectionally-located, materially-contingent aspects of identity such as race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality in the trans-cultural, -national, and -linguistic context of the second half of the twentieth century, we will interrogate Baldwin's complex reemergence as a contradictory black cultural icon in our own time. We will discuss his works as politically engaged in early theorizations, representations, and (de)construction processes of what Toni Morrison terms “literary whiteness” and “literary blackness” in Playing in the Dark. We will discuss these concepts and others (e.g, disidentification, androgyny, homophobia, misogyny and transphobia, autobiography-to-life writing, etc.) in light of Baldwin’s connection to postcolonial Europe, his fierce attention to individuality and domesticity as well as the erotic. By the end of the semester, you will be versed in the works and ideas that shore up this exceptional writer's life-long project of theorizing American national identity from a non-essentialist, black queer perspective both in the context of the Cold War and anti-colonialist struggles of his time, as well as in our own.

AMCULT 699 - Periods in American Culture: Literary
Schedule Listing
003 (SEM)
Th 1:00PM - 4:00PM
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