AAS 212/ENG 212
What’s So Funny? Forms of African American Humor
What’s so funny? is a question that could be turned around to ask: Who’s laughing? Comedian Dave Chappelle might say it’s a question about who gets the joke, and who doesn’t. This survey of African American humor is an introduction to getting the joke. We study the technical artistry of black humorists and comedians and reflect on the audiences for whom they write and perform. We examine a range of cultural expression, from the dozens to stand-up comedy. In our critical and creative work, we assess how past forms and strategies can be adapted to the project of African American humor today
AAS 359 / ENG 366
African American Literature: Harlem Renaissance to Present
A survey of twentieth- and twenty-first century African American literature, including the tradition’s key aesthetic manifestos. Special attention to how modern African American literature is periodized and why certain innovations in genre and style emerged when they did. Poetry, essays, novels, popular fiction, a stage production or two, and related visual texts.
AMS 360 / ENG 387 / AAS 360
This course undertakes a comparative, cross-cultural analysis of African American and Asian American social formations. In doing so, it aims to highlight when and how seemingly distinct racial and ethnic experiences have come together on matters of labor, citizenship, international politics, and especially gender and sexual ideology. It attends to cross-cultural dialogue as well: for example, in the martial arts (Bruce Lee) and hip hop (Wu-Tang Clan). The course offers a unique opportunity to bring ethnic studies, black studies, and gender studies into dynamic conversation.
ENG 556 / AAS 556
African-American Literature: The Archival Turn
If the institutionalization of African American literary history entailed constructing a usable past, what does the field’s recent archival turn recommend for future study? The seminar takes up this question as a matter of critical inquiry and research practice. We survey foundational and contemporary black archive theory, paying special attention to problems of history and memory, loss and recovery. At the same time, we grapple with the politics and procedures of actually doing archival research, weighing our desire to tell new stories against the realization that sometimes we cannot.