ENGLISH 319 - Literature and Social Change
Winter 2020, Section 001 - Baldwin in the Time of #BlackLivesMatter
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:


James Baldwin may be the most widely tweeted, hashtagged, and quoted writer in the Black Lives Matter era since the death of Trayvon Martin in February 2012. Why might this be the case? What does a 20th-century queer African American author who died in 1987 have to teach us in this particular moment? And how does the literature, film, and photography that shaped Baldwin’s life and legacy offer insights into not only the conflicts and violence but the hope and activism that mark and shape antiracist movement in contemporary digital spaces and on the ground? This course will venture answers to these questions through a rich contextualization of current engagements with Baldwin’s thought. We will engage works from throughout his lengthy career as an author, social critic, dramatist, poet, and would-be screenwriter. The first third of the course sets Baldwin’s early works in the context of the world that made him: the Great Migration, Harlem, the church pulpit, blues and jazz music, film and visual culture. The second part reads Baldwin in relation to his friends and contemporaries who were central to the Civil Rights and Black Arts movements. The last section of the course considers Baldwin in 21st-century frameworks: digital cultures, police violence, experimental art, and prison abolitionism.

Course Requirements:

Requirements will include active participation, quizzes, short writing assignments, and a public-facing final project.


ENGLISH 319 - Literature and Social Change
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM

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