ENG 345--Topics in African American Poetry and Folklore
Professor Howard Rambsy II
“The future is always here in the past.” Amiri Baraka
“sCReeeEEECHHHHHH” –Sonia Sanchez
There’s probably no need to mention Shine, Stagolee, and Kissie Lee, right? And you don’t need a reminder about the beautiful black rhetoric of Malcolm, Baraka, and Sanchez, do you? We’re likely already up on all those poets from Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, and Margaret Walker to Elizabeth Alexander, Tyehimba Jess, Evie Shockley, and Kevin Young who embodied the personas of others, yes? And at this point, we’re all well-versed in the verses and knowledge dropped by Dre3000, L-Boogie, Weezy, and Jay Electronica, correct?
Cool. Good. You’ve studied well.
So in an effort to make things interesting, or better yet, in the spirit of innovation, we’ll take a look at a sample of apparently familiar pieces related to black poetry using the lens of afrofuturism, a framework—honed and advanced by the sister-scholar Alondra Nelson—that assists in thinking about the interactions between and convergence of race and technology. With afrofuturism as a basis, we will come to terms with the ideas that African American folk culture and poetry are comprised of a long line of technologically-infused narratives, futuristic and speculative ideas, human iPods, folks with exquisite verbal skills, and supernatural racism-defying historical figures.