English 167 - Spring, 2020

20th Century African American Poetry

Class Information

Instructor: Gray, Erin
CRN: 84077
Time: TR 1:40-3:00
Location: 118 Olson


    This course serves as an introduction to poetry by Black writers living and working in the United States in the twentieth century. Beginning with the musical forms that have influenced Black poetry and poetics, we will explore the complex relationship between oral folk traditions and modernist aesthetics from the New Negro movement of the early twentieth century up to present-day experiments in hip hop and visual poetry. Along the way, we will cover freedom songs, the blues, lyric verse, the Black Arts Movement, and Black innovations in New American Poetry, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry, and experimental music. Throughout the course, we will read works by contemporary poets alongside their poetic ancestors, focusing on the intergenerational exchange of form, memory, sound, and vision. Central to our study will be the social and political conditions of African American poetic invention. We will also concentrate on the connection of poetry to other aesthetic modalities and forms of life, such as visual culture, performance practices, and underground publishing communities.