English 180B
Black American Poety

English 116B
English 180A
English 180B
English 180F
Semester at Sea
About Me
"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).
Course Description
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)

Course Expectations
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:
  • 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
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.