African-American Studies GU4080 section 001
TOPICS IN THE BLACK EXPERIENCE: Du BOIS at 150
Robert Gooding-Williams & Saidiyah Hartman, Wednesdays 10:10-12:00pm
This seminar examines the philosophical, literary, historical and sociological work of W.E.B. Du Bois from The Philadelphia Negro (1899) to Dusk of Dawn (1940). Through close readings and analyses of Du Bois’s books and other writings we will consider the ongoing significance of his "Evolving Program for Negro Freedom" some 150 years after his birth and 55 years after his death.
African-American Studies GU4080 section 002
TOPICS IN THE BLACK EXPERIENCE: BALDWIN'S IMPOSSIBLE AMERICA
Rich Blint, Tuesdays, 2:10-4:00pm
“To read James Baldwin is to be read by him, to feel the glow of his affection, the sting of his scorn, the weight of his disappointment, the gift of his trust.” (A. O. Scott)
James Baldwin (1924-1987)—novelist, essayist, playwright, and poet—was one of 20th-century America's most exacting and loving critics. He probed, with forensic insight, bracing vulnerability, sly wit and unsurpassed lyricism, this country's inability to face up to its brutal history. A black gay man of enormous celebrity, Baldwin implored his readers—black or white, straight or not—to confront the meanings, instabilities, and manufactured features of these identity markers, and to consider the possibility that "any real change implies the break-up of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety?”
For Baldwin, the problems plaguing America required its citizens to refuse the gap between their public and private lives. Americans, he argued, carry the history of the country within themselves. The key to ending the "racial nightmare" was to embrace a radical interiority, an unflinching examination of the self, which might then repeatedly produce "new acts of creation, which can save us from the evil that is in this world." Now, his incisive interrogations of the moral history of this country are newly and urgently relevant, as evidenced by the massive success of Ta-Nehisi Coates' Baldwin-inspired collection of essays, Between the World and Me, and Raoul Peck's Oscar-nominated documentary on the author, I Am Not Your Negro.
This course will consider Baldwin's body of work—not just in relation to his own time, but to our peculiar climate of renewed crisis and revanchist politics—and place it in dialogue with a range of classic and cutting-edge cultural productions by the likes of Toni Morrison, Kerry James Marshall, Fran Lebowitz, John Akomfrah, Meshell Ndegeochello, and Dave Chappelle. Students will also have the opportunity to examine James Baldwin's papers recently acquired by the NYPL'S Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
African-American Studies GR6999 section 001
Research Independent study for African-American Studies Master Students only