Topics in American Literature: James Baldwin Now


This course explores what happens when the expressive vocabulary of Black-authored genres of American popular music--ragtime, blues, jazz, rock, and rap--spills over into modern and contemporary American literature. Why did ragtime come to symbolize interracial and international mixture in the early 20th-century American novel, and how did jazz--and the slogan of the "Jazz Age"--grow to signify the national distinctiveness of American modernism? How did rock help to steer the postmodern turn, and why is rap now canonizing itself as an academic poetry through thick anthologies and footnote-heavy artist memoirs? How has American writing's long-running commentary on popular music affected that music's history and mythology--and vice versa? Writers (and writer-musicians) to be studied include James Weldon Johnson, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ralph Ellison, Frank O'Hara, Rita Dove, Bob Dylan, Don DeLillo, Patti Smith, and Jay-Z. Musical or musicological experience is welcome, but truly not required. Satisfies the Twentieth Century and later requirement. This course may fulfill the global or minority literatures requirement for students who declare an English major in the fall 2021 semester and beyond. 3 units.
Course Attributes: EN H; AS HUM; AS SD I; FA HUM; EL TC; EL GML

Section 01

Topics in American Literature: James Baldwin Now
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