AMS 370 • Literature of Black Politics
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison are three of the greatest American writers. The corpus of each contains first rate literary works, provocative and erudite literary and cultural criticism, and insightful theoretical analysis of the perils and possibilities of black life under conditions of American political modernity and late modernity
In this course, we will examine the novels, plays, and critical essays of these writers as works of democratic political theorizing and political engagement. We shall ask, how do each of these writers conceive the legacies of slavery, mastery, segregation, and racial terror, and how do each conceive the relationship between these legacies and contemporary black life? How does each writer conceive the lessons of this legacy(s) for contemporary political life? What aesthetic forms are most adequate to wrestling with these legacies, according to these three writers? And, what is the vocation of the artist in Black America and America as a whole, and are the conceptions of the artistic vocation held by these writers politically relevant for us today?
Possible Texts Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man Ralph Ellison, The Collected Essays of Ralph Ellison James Baldwin, Go Tell it On the Mountain James Baldwin, Blues For Mister Charlie James Baldwin, The Price of the Ticket Toni Morrison, Beloved Toni Morrison, Paradise Toni Morrison, What Moves at the Margins Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark