L384 4913 STUDIES IN AMERICAN CULTURE
5:45p-7:00p TR (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.
TOPIC: “Breaking Boundaries: Literature of the Sixties”
The words “race, gender, class, and sexuality” have become a veritable mantra, but we need to avoid a facile linking of these ideologies and identities. Judith Butler, for example, warns that, without a focus on how race and gender constitute each other, we lapse into a fetishism of the “proverbial commas.” Any study of the confluence of cultural movements during the 1960s requires a focus on genuine intersectionality (the web of relations between race, gender, class, and sexuality). We will study the literature and visual culture of the Women’s Movement, the Anti-Vietnam War Movement, the Beat Movement, and the Black Arts Movement. The confluence of these movements and points of conflict will be interrogated. Artists who occupy a central space in more than one movement will help us understand the complicated intersections between these movements and the complicated intersections between race, gender, class, and sexuality.
As we explore the breaking of boundaries during the 60s, we’ll study some of the mixed art forms (the merging of music and literature as well as literature and visual art). In the spirit of the broken boundaries, we’ll read a wide range of genres. Our reading list will include poetry, novels, short stories, drama, and essays. The wide range of authors will include Denise Levertov, Susan Sontag, Yusef Komunyakaa, Allen Ginsberg, Hettie Jones, James Baldwin, Jack Kerouac, Sylvia Plath, Nikki Giovanni, Bob Kaufman, and Amiri Baraka. Ann Charters’ The Portable Sixties Reader will be one of our core texts.
The course will include lectures and active class participation. A 5-7 page essay and a final 12-15 page essay will be assigned. There will also be a final exam.