English 133T

Topics in African American Literature and Culture: Black Internationalism

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2015 Lee, Steven S.
TTh 3:30-5 101 Wheeler

Book List

Baldwin, J.: Another Country; Childress, A.: A Short Walk; DuBois, W.E.B.: Dark Princess; Hughes, L.: I Wonder as I Wander; Lorde, A.: Zami; McKay, C.: Banjo; Reed, I.: Flight to Canada; Robeson, P.: Here I Stand


Throughout the twentieth century, African American authors used international travel to see beyond the limits of racial discrimination in the U.S.  Traveling abroad allowed these authors to imagine new configurations of race, gender, and class back at home.  This course will trace the vibrant, ongoing tradition of black internationalism, focusing on its often utopian undercurrents—in particular, its frequent crossing of racial and sexual hierarchies.  We will see how W.E.B. DuBois’ time in Germany bolstered his understanding that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.”  We will see how Langston Hughes’ Soviet travels prompted him to tie African American struggles to international socialism.  We will also explore efforts to make black internationalism more inclusive—as seen, for example, in Alice Childress’ feminist critique of Marcus Garvey’s “Back to Africa” movement.  Finally, we will explore how black internationalism enables us to articulate new understandings of race in our purportedly “post-racial” present.

Note: Since the reading list may change, please don’t buy books until after the first class.


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