Thursday, January 24, 2013

Spring Semester Classes Begin

This post is of zero interest to anyone beyond my students and me, I know, but Spring 2013 semester classes began today, first thing this morning to be exact, and I'm excited about both of them, but especially about my undergraduate literature class, which incorporates some material I've taught before but many new texts as well. That class is officially an English and African American Studies class on The Black Arts Movement, satisfying two distinct registrations (and I thus have two Blackboard sites, which is a little disorienting), and covers not only aspects of the movement itself, but several antecedent moments (The Harlem Renaissance, Négritude, Black American poetry of the 1950s) and successors (a Spike Lee film, Public Enemy's music, and Kia Corthron's play Force Continuum). At the core of the course we'll be delving into a great deal of Amiri BarakI've included a good deal of  scholarly, critical and theoretical material (by figures from Alain Locke and W. E. B. DuBois to more recent scholars and authors like Cheryl Clarke, Howard Rambsy II, Cherise Pollard, and Lorrie Smith, as well as primary), including some primary documents by Larry Neal, Amiri Baraka and others. It's a decent-sized class (anywhere from 18-26 students, depending upon how many stay enrolled, and smaller is always better for the students and their professor) and thus manageable. The second course is one all members of the African American and African Studies teach in rotation, Introduction to African American Studies (Part II), which spans the period from Reconstruction through today, and which draws a pretty sizable enrollment. Right now I have about 45-50 students, but one asked about the amount of reading (up to 200 pages a week, from an array of texts, including historical and critical studies in a range of fields, primary documents by the likes of Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and creative works), so perhaps the numbers will slim down by next week. As with my fall classes my students come from a range of backgrounds, though the majority are black (African American, African, Caribbean, mixed race, etc.), latino (many Afro-Latino), and Asian-American (South Asian and East Asian), which I learned quickly lent a very different cast to the conversations we had about the course material. I expect no less this semester. We begin with Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery, a book I haven't read in many years, and rereading it in preparation for the class has reminded me why I enjoyed it so years ago, and how rich and complex our history--black history, American history--truly is.

No comments:

Post a Comment