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Monday/Thursday 12:30PM – 2:10PM
Instructor: Henry Williams
henry.williams [at] purchase.edu
Office Location and Hours: Humanities 1055, Mondays 2:30-3:30 or by Appt.
Course Location: Library 0001
Description: This course examines the Black Arts Movement of the late 1960s to mid 1970s, a multi-faceted group of African-American artists, writers, and musicians who were committed to creating politically charged socially relevant art and saw themselves as the cultural wing of revolutionary movements sweeping the country at the time. We’ll examine the work of several writers, poets, visual artists, and musicians of the era and situate their work within the political, historical, and artistic context. We’ll also ask key questions that remain relevant to artistic production: what is the relationship between art and politics? What is the role of the politically conscious artist?
Requirements: Regular attendance (See below), a final exam, midterm exam, one short paper, one long (about 10 page) paper, a group and individual presentation to the class, and discussion on the class Facebook page. Detailed descriptions of the assignments will be handed out in class and posted online.
Attendance and Punctuality: Because much of the course material will be discussed in class and your participation is crucial to the overall success of the course (Really!), attendance—preferably on time—is important. More than 4 absences will result in a penalty of one letter grade. More than 6 absences will result in a failing grade. Don’t let this happen to you! Talk to me if there are unusual circumstances and I will attempt to work something out. Note, however, that this is a demanding course for both you and the instructor. If you foresee problems attending class regularly at the scheduled time, you are advised to register for a different class that will be a better fit for your schedule and goals.
Grading: Will be based on an average of short paper (10%), final exam (20%), midterm (20%), Final paper (30%), and participation (20%), which will include the group presentation and online posts. All assignments must be handed in—period. It is your responsibility to find out what happens in class if you’re absent. Assignments not handed in at all will be assigned failing grades. Again, this is something to avoid. Talk to me if you’re having some kind of serious problem completing the work and I’ll try to work out a plan that satisfies us both. You will be asked to revise and resubmit papers that are unclear and/or have serious structural problems.
Policy on Plagiarism: See Purchase’s policy online. My addition: in reality, this is a simple proposition. You should do your own work and be sure to properly cite sources for any ideas, words, or thoughts that are not your own or are not common knowledge, even if you are summarizing info you have read elsewhere. I have found that plagiarism primarily happens for 2 reasons: either students don’t allow enough time to complete assignments or they think their work will not be good enough. Reason #1 is not a good one, but you should discuss this with me if you are having time problems rather than resort to cheating. Reason #2 is an even worse proposition. In this class, if you think, make a good effort, and do your best, you will be fine. Your own work will be good enough. If you present work that is not your own, you will immediately fail the assignment and possibly the entire course. You may also be subject to disciplinary charges. Note that college penalties for this can be as severe as expulsion. TL/DR version: just do the work and don’t cheat – it’s not worth it.
Students with disabilities: I encourage students with disabilities to let me know as soon as possible during the semester what, if any, special accommodations they will need. After-the-fact accommodations will not be possible. All students requesting accommodation for disabilities need to provide documentation from the Office of Students with Disabilities. This office is located in the Counseling Center, in the basement of Humanities (Room 0012). Call Ronnie Mait, who directs the office, at (914) 251-6035, or call the Counseling Center, (914) 251-6390. They are happy to answer questions. For more information, go to: http://www.purchase.edu/departments/specialstudentservices/
Course Objectives. Students will:
• Understand the cultural production of the subject within the larger cultural/ political/ social framework of the 1960s-1970s.
• Be able to make connections between different artistic forms presented in class and understand the intersection between art and politics and various artistic forms.
• Gain greater understanding of how race and racial experience impacted late 20th century culture and politics.
Course Goals. Students will learn to:
• Articulate ideas thoughtfully and clearly in written, oral, and online communication.
• Effectively use writing, reading, and research strategies applicable to multiple disciplines.
Required Texts: available at college bookstore and on reserve in library
Amiri Baraka. Dutchman and The Slave. ISBN-13: 978-0688210847
Amiri Baraka, Larry Neal, eds. Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro American Writing. ISBN-13: 978-1-57478-039-5
Tentative Schedule: changes or additions will be announced in advance and posted on the course website. Check the site for weekly updates and exact reading/listening assignments. This section is updated to stay current.
Course introduction: week 1
Thursday, January 26: course intro, syllabus review, and a few definitions
The turn toward Black Arts:
Monday, January 30: Historical background. Reading: Robin D.G. Kelley from Freedom Dreams. (online)
Thursday, February 2: Toward the Black Arts. Reading: Amiri Baraka, “Cuba Libre” (online)
Monday, February 6: Reading: Malcolm X: “Message to the Grassroots” (online)
Thursday, February 9: Reading: Malcolm X: “The Last Message” (online)
In-class viewing: Malcolm X (1972 documentary — and on Youtube if you want to re-watch it!)
Monday, February 13: Malcolm’s legacy. Reading: Larry Neal, “Malcolm X” (poem) and “On Malcolm X” (essay); Amiri Baraka, “The Legacy of Malcolm X and the Coming of the Black Nation” (all online).
Listening: “Malcolm is Gone” by Leon Thomas from his Spirits Known and Unknown album.
Student presentation on Malcolm X.
Thursday, February 16: Intro to New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement (online); James Stewart, “The Making of the Black Revolutionary Artist” (in Black Fire!)
Monday, February 20: Amiri Baraka, Dutchman; Baraka, “Black Revolutionary Theater” (online)
Thursday, February 23: Amiri Baraka, The Slave.
Student presentation on Amiri Baraka.
Monday, February 27: Drama from Black Fire!. Reading:Jimmy Garrett’s “We own the Night” (p. 527); Marvin X’s “Flowers for the Trashman” (P. 541), and Ed Bullins’s “How Do You Do?” (p. 595)
Thursday, March 1: Drama: Sonia Sanchez, The Bronx is Next, Sister Son/ji, and essay. (All online). Watch: Director SC 3 talk about his 2009 production of Sonia Sanchez’s “The Bronx is Next” and “Sister Son/Ji”.
Student presentation on Sonia Sanchez.
Monday, March 5:
Library instruction workshop Workshop on search terms; Finish Sonia Sanchez discussion.
Thursday, March 8: Class does not meet
Monday, March 12:
Midterm exam (tentative) edit: Library research session
Thursday, March 15: Midterm exam (new date)
Monday, March 19: Poetry. Reading: selections from Black Fire!: poems of David Henderson (p. 230-244), Sonia Sanchez (p. 250-255), Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)’s “Black Art” (302-303), Barbara Simmons “Soul” (304-308), Carol Freeman (329-331), Victor Hernandez Cruz (436-437). Also listen to Baraka read “Black Art” on the Sonny’s Time Now album in 1967.
Thursday, March 22: Poetry.
Reading: TBA. Listening: Gil Scott-Heron, The Last Poets, Nikki Giovanni, and Jayne Cortez (online. Same password as Readings page.)
Student presentation on spoken word
Monday, March 26: Reading: Selections from The Black Woman. Listening: Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone (All online)
Thursday, March 29: Nuyorican Poetry. Reading: Miguel Algarin, “Nuyorican Language”; Miguel Pinero, selections from La Bodega Sold Dreams. (All online)
*Note: the National Black Writer’s Conference is at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn from Thursday-Sunday. There will be a screening of a Sonia Sanchez documentary and a discussion with Sanchez on Friday afternoon. There will also be a panel discussion on Malcolm X and a reading by poet Haki Madhubuti. See Hopstop for subway directions to M.E.C.
Spring Break: March 31-April 8 No class
Monday, April 9: Nuyorican Poetry. Reading: Pedro Pietri, selections from Puerto Rican Obituary, interview (online)
Thursday, April 12: Music. In-class screening: Ken Burns’ Jazz. Reading: selection from Jazz 101, Freedom Rhythm and Sound liner notes (both online); Listening: John Coltrane selections (online)
Monday, April 16: Music Reading: Jazz poetry and short stories. (online and Black Fire!)
Thursday, April 19: Music Reading: Sun Ra poetry in Black Fire!, others TBA. Listening: Sun Ra Arkestra (online)
Monday, April 23: Film: Sun Ra: Space is the Place. (In class screening) Also online on Youtube. Reading: TBA
Thursday, April 26: Film: The Spook Who Sat By the Door. 1973, Sam Greenlee (screenplay), Ivan Dixon (director). (In class screening). Also online on Youtube. Reading: TBA
Monday, April 30: Visual Art, Discussion of film: Reading: Faith Ringgold, excerpt from We Flew Over the Bridge; others TBA.
Thursday, May 3: Visual Art. Reading: TBA Viewing: Artwork by Emory Douglas, Elizabeth Catlett,
Monday, May 7:
Thursday, May 10:
Student presentations Review for final/ reflections
Final papers due
Monday, May 14: Final Exam 12:30-2:30 in regular classroom