Course Detail


African American Lit 1955-2000


Starting with Gwendolyn Brooks' Maud Martha and "The Mother" from her 1963 Collected Poems and culminating with the "rachet/bootylicious" poetics of Beyoncé, this course will trace the ways that black female artists have continued to cast off expectations of respectability, invoking the sinful, the risqué, the forbidden, as they complicate the mantra "Black Is Beautiful" that was central to the "black aesthetic" Amiri Baraka, Addison Gayle, Larry Neal, and others posited as essential to liberate the race from the tyranny of the white imagination. Along the way, the poems of Nikki Giovanni, Lucille Clifton, Ai, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, Rita Dove, and others will be used to reflect on their invocation of and tribute to the performance of singer-activists Josephine Baker, Nina Simone, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, and others who have informed the hypersexual diva ethos Beyoncé has used to dominate contemporary pop culture.