AMS 390 • Prophecy, Poetry, and Politics: Black Political Thought
5:00 PM-8:00 PM
Our late-modern political world has been described as post-secular and post-racial. If the first is true, prophesy is and will continue to be a valid interlocutor within the public realm. If the second is true, the conditions of black political thought are changed dramatically, if not vanished altogether. Since the formulation of the problem(s) of race in America as a national sin has occupied such a prominent place within American political culture, it may be that we are entering an uncharted phase in which prophesy is granted a larger stature as a form of political knowledge than it has ever enjoyed since the American founding. And, this new stature of prophesy may be occurring at precisely the moment when the very complex of problems which have historically functioned in American political culture as the great national sin, have dissipated. Where does this leave American Politics?
In this course we will begin to grapple with this question by looking at the relationship between race and prophesy, prophesy and poetry, and the ways both have functioned as politics and political theory in Black political thought. We will ask, among other things: What forms of speech and writing have African American intellectuals deployed to theorize politics? What vocations of politics and theorizing have they embraced as specifically political ways of life? What conditions give rise to these activities, and what conditions would constitute grounds for their overcoming?
Possible Texts: Richard Allen, David Walker, Frederick Douglass, W.E. B. Du Bois, Ralph Ellison, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Edward P. Jones.