"What the colored poet in the United States needs to do is something like what Synge
did for the Irish; he needs to find a form that will express the reacial spirit by symbols from within
rather than by symbols from without . . . "
James Weldon Johnson, The Book of American Negro Poetry, (1921).
Black American Poetry addresses the many ways in which James Weldon Johnson's challenge
to African American poets has become a reality. We will begin by examining the "vernacular"/folk origins and continue
by exploring the chronological development of black poetry. We will read poets who represent various periods,
movements, and philosophies--the dialect tradition, the Harlem Renaissance and free verse experiments, "poets of
academy," Black Aesthetic poets. Because poetry is as much sound as it is sight, our course will include audio
and video interviews, readings, and other appropriate audiovisual aids.
The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, (1997)
The course pedagogy will include lecture, discussion, audio visual presentations, and
group activities. Our classroom environment will be challenging, pleasant, and supportive
of your individual and group efforts.
This advanced study course requires 5,000 words of clear, logical writing. To meet this requirement,
you will write three essays and several commentaries. The third essay will be considered a course project,
the highlights of which you will share orally with your classmates in a presentation during the time
scheduled for the final examination. See below for more detail:
More than three absences will affect your course grade. Any absence exceeding this number will lower
your grade by one whole grade and will continue lowering the grade with every subsequent absence.
- First essay: 1,200 words, 25% of course grade
- Second essay: 1,200 words, 25% of course grade
- Third essay: 1,200 words, 25% of course grade
- Several one and two-page commentaries: 1,400 words total, 25% of course grade
- NOTE: No extra credit will be offered in this course