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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2005

E 397M • Black Atlantic Modernisms

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
33775 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
CAL 22

Course Description

Columbus' "discovery" of the New World. The Haitian Revolution. Booker T. Washington's Atlanta Exposition Address. Each of these historical events has been used to mark the beginnings of Black modernity, and each predates the literary period traditionally defined as modernism: the early twentieth century. In launching a comparative discussion of modernisms in Black Atlantic literature, we will use this chronological disjuncture to address two fundamental questions: how attempts to situate modernism historically elide and/or elucidate distinctions between "modernism" and "modernity," and what, keeping in mind European and American literary models, denotes "modernism" in the African American and Francophone Caribbean literary traditions. From this larger discussion we will move to a consideration of the artistic and political implications of Black Atlantic modernisms. Of particular interest will be issues of formal experimentation and the interrelation of language, race, and identity. French-language texts may be read in the original or in translation. The course reader will include selections from Marita Bonner, Suzanne Césaire, Edouard Glissant, Jean-Paul Sartre, Fredric Jameson, and others.


Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic

C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins

J. Michael Dash, The Other America

Houston Baker, Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance

Booker T. Washington, Up from Slavery

Jean Toomer, Cane

Nella Larsen, Quicksand and Passing

Claude McKay, Banjo

René Maran, Batouala

André Breton, Manifestes du surréalisme (Manifestoes of Surrealism)

Aimé Césaire, Cahier d'un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a Return to the Native Land)

Michael Richardson, ed., Refusal of the Shadow


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