AMS 370 • Black Americans and the South
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
This course traces the post-Reconstruction African-American conversation over the meanings, possibilities and challenges posed by the history and geography of the American South, a discussion shot through with temporality and notions of mobility. The context of the Great Migration informs the Black construction of the South as a mythic repository of both violent memories and redemptive possibilities. We will detail the maintenance of the boundary of the South by those who migrate across it and those who choose to stay and cast down their buckets where they are. We will discuss the ways in which the historical processes of the Great migration and the lived experience of Jim Crow combine to delineate insiders from outsiders. We will detail what has been at stakehistorically, politically, and culturallyin claiming Blackness and Southern-ness at the same time. Part of this process will be to recover the ways in which Blacks have been constructed by others within and outside of the South. We will put Black and white Southerners in conversation with one another around issues of race and place. We will not view the Black construction of the South as a monolith. Instead, we will explore the uneven-ness of the Southern terrain. In their transformations of Southern history, experience and landscape, Black Americans have constructed a place that contains multitudes and that acts as a backdrop for debates about class and gender within Black communities. We will also draw materials from a range of genres including but not limited to fiction, speeches, newspaper accounts, photographs, paintings, poetry, and popular music including jazz, blues, rock, R&B and hip hop/rap.
Jean Toomer, Cane; Richard Wright, Black Boy; Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi; Tayari Jones, Leaving Atlanta And a sourcebook of shorter readings