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Lisa Moore Interim, Director 2505 University Avenue, A4900, Burdine Hall 536, Austin Texas 78712 • 512-471-5765

Lisa B. Thompson

Associate Faculty Ph. D., Program in Modern Thought & Literature, Stanford University

Associate Professor

WGS 301 • Performing Blackness

47700 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm BUR 108
(also listed as AFR 317F, AMS 315 )
show description

Description:

 

This course will consider contemporary performance of blackness in film, art, theatre, literature, television, and music. We will discuss how performances of black life, black identity and black culture are created, consumed and sometimes contradicted by artists and non-artists alike. We will explore themes such as the criteria for black art, the Black aesthetic, racial passing, performances of black masculinity/femininity, and cultural appropriation. The class will culminate in student presentations about black performance based upon individual research.

Texts:

Evie Shockley, The New Black

George C. Wolfe, The Colored Museum

Jay-Z, Decoded

Suzan-Lori Parks, The America Play and Other Works

Spike Lee, Bamboozled

Awkward Black Girl (webseries)

Kiese Laymon, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America

Mark Anthony Neal, Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities

Nicole Fleetwood, Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness.

WGS 340 • Writing For Black Performance

47810 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm CLA 0.104
(also listed as AFR 372E, AMS 321, E 376M )
show description

Description:

 

This course will require students to write critical essays as well as theatrical pieces about the performance of black identity in America. Participants will also give oral presentations and perform readings of their work using various African-American performance styles. Students will read texts that examine African-American performance, contemporary black identity, and expressive culture.

 

Texts:

 

Brandi Wilkins Catanese, Problem of the Color[blind]: Racial Transgression and the Politics of Black Performance

Nicole R. Fleetwood, Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness

E. Patrick Johnson, Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity

Lynn Nottage, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark

Suzan-Lori Parks, The America Play and Other Works

Cherise Smith, Enacting Others

August Wilson, The Ground on Which I Stand

George C. Wolfe, The Colored Museum

WGS F340 • Black Film

88482 • Summer 2014
Meets MTWTHF 100pm-230pm DFA 4.104
(also listed as AFR F372E, AMS F325 )
show description

Varies by topic

WGS 340 • Black Middle Class

47991 • Spring 2014
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm JES A217A
(also listed as AFR 372C, AMS 321 )
show description

The Black Middle Class

Professor Thompson

Course Description

During this term we will embark on an interdisciplinary exploration of the African

American middle class in the US from 1900 to the present, with a particular emphasis

on post-Civil Rights era developments. We will use literature, film, history, theatre,

cultural studies, music, television, and sociology to examine how the black middle class

has been imagined, defined and represented. By examining the debates within and

about the black middle class, we will complicate constructions of race in America. The

course is particularly interested in investigating the following: the concept of racial

uplift; the construction of the “race man” and “race woman;” the idea of class privilege

for a racially marginalized group; conflicts between the black middle class and the

working class; the role of the black middle class in policing black sexuality; the notion of

middle class rage; the rise of the black nerd; assertions of racial authenticity; the new

black aesthetic; and the politics of affirmative action.

Required Texts

Charles Chesnutt,

The Marrow of Tradition (1901)

ISBN: 0393934144

Ellis Cose,

Rage of a Privileged Class (1994)

ISBN: 0060925949

Nella Larsen,

Quicksand and Passing (1929)

IBSN 0813511704

Lorraine Hansberry,

A Raisin in the Sun (1959)

ISBN: 0679755314

Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones,

The Dutchman and The Slave (1964)

ISBN: 978-0688210847

Toni Morrison,

Song of Solomon (1977)

ISBN: 9780786508075

Andrea Lee,

Sarah Phillips (1984)

ISBN: 155553158X

Stew,

Passing Strange (2008)

ISBN: 155783752X

Course Packet

All course materials are available at the Co-op. Texts designated with an * can be found

in the course packet.

2

Course Requirements

Attendance & Participation

Students are expected to complete all reading before class and participate fully in

discussions and activities (presentations, quizzes, in-class writing and group projects).

Remember to bring texts to class because we will be reading excerpts and doing close

readings of passages. Also please be advised that prompt and regular attendance is

expected. Tardiness is disrespectful to me and to your classmates. Missing two classes

and/or excessive tardiness will result in your grade being lowered by 10%.

Essays

During the semester you will write two critical essays. The first essay will engage with a

text or texts from the syllabus. Topics will be distributed in class in advance. The final

essay will be a research project of your own choosing (in consultation with me) that

considers texts and/or topics not discussed in class. You will write a proposal that

includes a tentative bibliography that includes primary and secondary sources. Additional

guidelines for the proposal and research paper will be distributed in class in advance. I

encourage you to consult with me at any stage in your writing process. Make sure you

argue a strong thesis and carefully proofread your papers for clarity and grammatical

errors. I expect your essays to adhere to either the

MLA Style Manual or the Chicago

Manual of Style

for formatting and documentation. All work must be typed in a 12-point

academic font (Times, Palatino, Times New Roman), stapled, and doubled-spaced with

one-inch margins. Submit essays in paper (NOT electronic) format by the deadline unless

instructed by me to do otherwise. It is incumbent upon you to keep a personal copy of all

submitted work. Please note: no incompletes or extensions will be granted without my

prior written permission.

Research Presentation

Each participant will give a brief (3 minute) presentation based on her/his final research

project. Students are strongly encouraged to use PowerPoint and/or another presentation

tool. The point of this exercise is to teach your classmates about an aspect of the black

middle class NOT covered in class. Use this as an opportunity to refine your oral

presentation skills and showcase your expertise.

Documented Disability Statement

Any student with a documented disability who requires academic accommodations

should contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at (512) 471-6259 (voice) or

1-866-329-3986 (video phone) or reference SSD’s website for more disability-related

information:

http://www.utexas.edu/diversity/ddce/ssd/for_cstudents.php

Final grades will be calculated as follows (note that plus and minus grades will be used):

Participation 15%

Research Presentation (3 min) 20%

Essay 1 (3-5 pages) 25%

Proposal (2-3 pages) 10%

Essay 2 (7-10 pages) 30%

 

WGS 340 • Rethinking Blackness

47790 • Fall 2013
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm SZB 416
(also listed as AFR 372C, AMS 321, E 376M )
show description

Cultural critic Wahneema Lubiano argues that “postmodernisn offers a site for African American cultural critics and producers to utilize a discursive space  that foregrounds the possibility of rethinking history, political positionality in the cultural domain, the relationship between cultural politics and subjectivity, and the politics of narrative aesthetics”. Other scholars such as Cornel West conclude that the Black experience in American is fundamentally absurd. If postmodernism is characterized by a de-centered human subjectivity then the Black condition in the Americans is fundamentally postmodern. This course examines texts that re-imagine Black subjectivity beyond traditional narratives of suffering and oppression. Class participants will become acquainted with a variety of genres such as literary satire, rock musical, faux documentary, and speculative fiction.

 

Texts:

Paul Beatty “White Boy Shuffle” (1996)

Octavia Butler “Kindred” (1979)

Edward P. Jones “The Known World” (2003)

Andrea Lee “Sarah Phillips” (1984)

Jill Nelson “Volunteer Slavery” (1993)

Baratunde Thurston “How to Be Black” (2012)

 

Grading breakdown (percentages):

Essay One – 5 pages – 20%

Midterm – 30%

Presentation – 10%

Essay 2 – 7 pages – 30%

Participation – 10%

WGS F340 • Black Film

88883 • Summer 2013
Meets MTWTHF 1130am-100pm JES A230
(also listed as AFR F372E, AMS F325 )
show description

Varies by topic

WGS 301 • Toni Morrison & August Wilson

46997 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm SZB 524
(also listed as AFR 317F )
show description

Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison and Tony award-winning playwright August Wilson are two of the most honored and prolific African American writers in recent history. They both make race (and particularly blackness) central to their work. Morrison, considered a "leading voice in current debates about constructions of race and gender in U.S. literature and culture...refuses to allow race to be relegated to the margins of literary discourse." Similarly, Wilson cautioned against a premature, post-racial vision of the world, especially considering the cultural politics of American theatre. During the term we will study how notions of race and power erupt in Morrison's "fantastic earthy realism" and Wilson's "dramatic vision." We will also trace African American cultural influences such as folktales, blues and jazz in their writing. Finally, we will measure their reach and authority as public intellectuals by discussing their essays, interviews, and speeches.

 

Texts:

By Toni Morrison

Beloved

Jazz

Sula

What Moves in the Margin: Selected Non-Fiction

By August Wilson:

Fences

Joe Turner's Come & Gone

Piano Lesson

Radio Golf

WGS 340 • Black Middle Class

47062 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm PAR 203
(also listed as AFR 372C, E 376M )
show description

The Black Middle Class

 

Professor Thompson

Course Description

During this term we will embark on an interdisciplinary exploration of the African

American middle class in the US from 1900 to the present, with a particular emphasis

on post-Civil Rights era developments. We will use literature, film, history, theatre,

cultural studies, music, television, and sociology to examine how the black middle class

has been imagined, defined and represented. By examining the debates within and

about the black middle class, we will complicate constructions of race in America. The

course is particularly interested in investigating the following: the concept of racial

uplift; the construction of the “race man” and “race woman;” the idea of class privilege

for a racially marginalized group; conflicts between the black middle class and the

working class; the role of the black middle class in policing black sexuality; the notion of

middle class rage; the rise of the black nerd; assertions of racial authenticity; the new

black aesthetic; and the politics of affirmative action.

Required Texts

Charles Chesnutt,

The Marrow of Tradition (1901)

ISBN: 0393934144

Ellis Cose,

Rage of a Privileged Class (1994)

ISBN: 0060925949

Nella Larsen,

Quicksand and Passing (1929)

IBSN 0813511704

Lorraine Hansberry,

A Raisin in the Sun (1959)

ISBN: 0679755314

Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones,

The Dutchman and The Slave (1964)

ISBN: 978-0688210847

Toni Morrison,

Song of Solomon (1977)

ISBN: 9780786508075

Andrea Lee,

Sarah Phillips (1984)

ISBN: 155553158X

Stew,

Passing Strange (2008)

ISBN: 155783752X

Course Packet

All course materials are available at the Co-op. Texts designated with an * can be found

in the course packet.

2

Course Requirements

Attendance & Participation

Students are expected to complete all reading before class and participate fully in

discussions and activities (presentations, quizzes, in-class writing and group projects).

Remember to bring texts to class because we will be reading excerpts and doing close

readings of passages. Also please be advised that prompt and regular attendance is

expected. Tardiness is disrespectful to me and to your classmates. Missing two classes

and/or excessive tardiness will result in your grade being lowered by 10%.

Essays

During the semester you will write two critical essays. The first essay will engage with a

text or texts from the syllabus. Topics will be distributed in class in advance. The final

essay will be a research project of your own choosing (in consultation with me) that

considers texts and/or topics not discussed in class. You will write a proposal that

includes a tentative bibliography that includes primary and secondary sources. Additional

guidelines for the proposal and research paper will be distributed in class in advance. I

encourage you to consult with me at any stage in your writing process. Make sure you

argue a strong thesis and carefully proofread your papers for clarity and grammatical

errors. I expect your essays to adhere to either the

MLA Style Manual or the Chicago

Manual of Style

for formatting and documentation. All work must be typed in a 12-point

academic font (Times, Palatino, Times New Roman), stapled, and doubled-spaced with

one-inch margins. Submit essays in paper (NOT electronic) format by the deadline unless

instructed by me to do otherwise. It is incumbent upon you to keep a personal copy of all

submitted work. Please note: no incompletes or extensions will be granted without my

prior written permission.

Research Presentation

Each participant will give a brief (3 minute) presentation based on her/his final research

project. Students are strongly encouraged to use PowerPoint and/or another presentation

tool. The point of this exercise is to teach your classmates about an aspect of the black

middle class NOT covered in class. Use this as an opportunity to refine your oral

presentation skills and showcase your expertise.

Documented Disability Statement

Any student with a documented disability who requires academic accommodations

should contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at (512) 471-6259 (voice) or

1-866-329-3986 (video phone) or reference SSD’s website for more disability-related

information:

http://www.utexas.edu/diversity/ddce/ssd/for_cstudents.php

Final grades will be calculated as follows (note that plus and minus grades will be used):

Participation 15%

Research Presentation (3 min) 20%

Essay 1 (3-5 pages) 25%

Proposal (2-3 pages) 10%

Essay 2 (7-10 pages) 30%

 

 

 

 

Theatrical Productions

"Single Black Female." Selected productions.

Directed by Marcus McQuirter. Performing Blackness Series, produced by UT Austin’s John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies.  George Washington Carver Cultural Center’s Boyd Vance Theatre, Austin, Texas. November 8-10, 2013.

Directed by Letitia Brooks. Nu Spyce Productions. St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival 2013, Venue 6 - MainLine Theatre, Montreal, Canada. June 14-24, 2013.

Directed by Martin Wilkins. Produced by Kingston 6 Entertainment. George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts, Toronto, Canada. March 13, 2010-March 21, 2010. International premiere.

Directed by Colman Domingo. Produced by the New Professional Theatre. The Duke on 42nd Street, New York City. June 10-June 29, 2008.Off-Broadway premiere. 

Directed by Colman Domingo. Produced by the New Professional Theatre. Peter Jay Sharpe Theatre, New York City. June 15-June 25, 2006.

New York Times review: http://theater.nytimes.com/2006/06/20/theater/reviews/20fema.html?_r=0

 

"I Don’t Want to Be." 

Directed by Ayana Cahrr. Black Women: State of the Union—Taking Flight. Company of Angels Theater, Los Angeles, California. February 15- 24, 2013.

Directed by Ayana Cahrr. Black Women: State of the Union—Taking Flight. Skylight Theatre, Los Angeles, California. October 27- November 18, 2012. 

Backstage review:

http://www.backstage.com/review/la-theater/black-women-state-of-the-union-taking-flight-katselas-theatre-company/

 

"Mother’s Day."

A short featured in the ensemble production "Black Women: State of the Union." The Black Box at the Alexandria Hotel. Company of Angels Theatre, Los Angeles, California. February 20, 2009-March 10, 2009.

 

Selected Publications

Books

Single Black Female. New York: Samuel French, Inc., 2012.

Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2009.

Received an honorable mention for the National Women's Studies Association's Gloria E. Anzaldua Book Prize, 2010.

http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/56ttm9xr9780252034268.html

 

Articles

“Black Ladies and Black Magic Women.” From Bourgeois to Boojie: Black Middle Class Performances. Vershawn Young with Bridget Tsemo, eds. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2011, 287-307.

“Easy Women: Black Beauty in Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins Mystery Series.” Finding a Way Home: A Critical Assessment of Walter Mosley’s Fiction. Owen Brady and Derek Maus, Eds. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2008, 58-69.

 

Poetry

“What Do I Want? From Men & Love.” Catch the Fire: A Cross-Generational Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry. Ed. Derrick I. M. Gilbert. New York: Riverhead Books/Putnam Berkeley Group, 1998. 136-138.

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