English | American Literature & Culture 1950-Present
L656 | 25271 | Crawford

L656  25271 CRAWFORD (#5)
American Literature & Culture 1950-Present

5:45p – 7:00p TR

The field of African American literature often privileges two
distinct literary periods, the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts
movement. In order to focus on the local and transnational texture
of these movements, this course adds the Négritude movement as it
disrupts the false binary often set up between the Harlem
Renaissance and the Black Arts movement.

We will compare the literature, visual culture, and aesthetic
theories of the Harlem Renaissance, the Négritude movement, and the
Black Arts movement. Different interpretations of the movements will
be examined as we study visual culture, literature, and aesthetic

The following passages offer a glimpse of the tensions this course

In that case the Negro renaissance is a misnomer, a fad, a socially
assertive movement in art that disappears and leaves no imprint. A
cultural renaissance that engenders barriers to the emergence of the
creative writer is a contradiction in terms, an emasculated
movement. (Harold Cruse, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, 1967)

Thus negritude is the root of its own destruction, it is a
transition and not a conclusion, a means and not an ultimate end.
(Jean-Paul Sartre, Orphée Noir, 1948)

Orphée Noir is a date in the intellectualization of the experience
of being black. And Sartre’s mistake was not only to seek the source
but in a certain sense to block that source. (Frantz Fanon, Black
Skin, White Masks, 1967 [1952, French original])

We will explore the circular as well as the disjunctive paths
between these three cultural movements. Our reading list may include
the following texts (or selections from the following texts):

Afro-American Poetics: Revisions of Harlem and the Black Aesthetic,
In Senghor’s Shadow: Art, Politics, and the Avant-Garde in Senegal,
The Practice of Diaspora,
The Harlem Renaissance in Black and White,
Black Fire,
The Black Woman,
Shadowed Dreams: Women’s Poetry of the Harlem Renaissance,
Notebook of a Return to the Native Land,
The System of Dante’s Hell,
Black Skin, White Masks,
The Black Arts Movement,
New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement.

Reading responses will shape our discussions and the beginning (10-
12 pages) of a journal-quality essay will be written.