Folklore | African American Folklore
F354 | 30601 | L. Horton-Stallings


Fulfills COLL Arts & Humanities, Culture Studies List A

Meets with AAAD-A392. Black Folklore’s Revolutionary Transgressions
of Sexuality and Gender in the Black Nation In this class, we will
be comparing and interrogating black nationalist and afro-centric
theories on black sexuality with the theories of folklore on the
construction of black sexuality and gender. This class utilizes
folklore as a framework to understand how Black people have produced
alternative discourses about sexuality and gender that predate and
usurp nationalist ideologies, as well serve as the foundation of
representations of gender and sexuality in black popular culture.
First, we will be familiarizing ourselves with the various forms and
genres found in black folklore. In doing so, we will ask and cover
basic questions and themes importance to the community, narrative,
audience, position of storyteller, transnational exchanges and
context, and ability to shape/influence the social reality of
blacks. The second and third objectives for the course are to
explore how black folk and oral culture offers alternatives to
traditional constructions/ideologies of gender and sexuality, while
simultaneously underscoring the importance of economic class
divisions amongst blacks. Topics to be covered as a result of this
second frame: What is queerness?; What is queer about black
literature and culture?; Notable differences between black queer
culture and mainstream queer culture; the intersection between
discourse of class, race, and sexuality; genres relegated to males
and females; figures and genres which allow or disallow fluid sexual
identities versus fixed identities; how class impacts the
presentation of gender and sexuality in the folk. We will not simply
talk about gender roles, but ask how various writers, filmmakers,
and critics disrupt the notion of gender itself. Anyone offended by
frank discussions or representations of sexuality should not enroll
in this course!

Our framing for the discussion of gender and sexuality within a
specifically cultural context will be led by an understanding of
trickster folk figures in black culture, specifically the Bad Nigga
and Queen B figures. However, we will not limit our assessment to
the geographical boundaries of the black U.S. We will consider
current works and artists influenced, be it negative or positive, by
black nationalism and black arts aesthetics. Students should be
prepared to utilize literary theory, film theory and criticism,
cultural theory and criticism, as well as drama criticism. As
indicated by the course title, we shall investigate various popular
culture forms, black music from the blues to hip-hop and all its
distinct variations (male, female, homo-hiphop, etc.), as well as
figures such as Prince, Rupaul, Dennis Rodman, etc. to demonstrate
the folk’s untangling of the dubious intertwining of racial and
sexual discourse.

Required Texts. CP readings , Daryl Cumber Dance—From My People: 400
Years of African American Folklore,    Lawrence Levine--Black
Culture and Black Consciousness, Paule Marshal-- Praisesong for the
Widow       Colson Whitehead—John Henry Days

Films viewed (subject to change). Wild Women Don’t Get the Blues,
Riggs’s Black is Black Ain’t, Julien’s Darker Side of Black,
Lemmon’s Eve’s Bayou and Talk to Me, Elgood's Dancehall Queen, Rudy
Ray Moore’s Dolemite or Petey Wheatstraw.

Course Requirements. 10-minute presentation on readings, quizzes, a
midterm oral exam, one final project as it relates to course
material, class participation and discussion.