Monday, July 31, 2017

Assigning The Blerd Gurl in an African American literature course

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The inclusion of writings by the Blerd Gurl (Karama Horne) will be one of the exciting, new additions to the syllabus for one of my African American literature courses this coming semester. When it comes to black writers, literature courses usually include poets like Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks and novelists such as Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, among others. I'll include those writers, but I'll expand a little by including a commentator who often writes about comic books and the industry.

I've enjoyed reading and learning from the Blerd Gurl's perspective on various topics. So why not her work with my students? I predict that the young'ins enrolled in my class will appreciate the tone of Blerd Gurl's writing style. I mean...she goes by the moniker Blerd Gurl. Seriously though, her writing has an immediate or contemporary feel that the students will value.

I'm still adjusting the course readings, but I'll likely include the Blerd Gurl's "Riri, Rhodey and Re-Skinning: How Marvel is Misunderstanding Diversity" and of course "theblerdgurl Manifesto." She has several reviews I could choose, and right now I'm leaning toward her assessment, "What’s Right and What’s Wrong with Marvel’s Infinity Gauntlet." We'll see though.

The Blerd Gurl is, by the way, an important voice among a vibrant chorus of black writers and women of color, including Jamie Broadnax of Black Girl NerdsTatiana King, Angelica Jade BastiĆ©n, and Kennedy Allen among many others, who cover popular culture and geek culture. Hopefully, we'll get the chance to talk about some of those various other writers, and identify some of their recurring and overlapping topics.

In previous years, I would assign reading selections chronologically and thus save the most contemporary writers for later in the semester. But not this time. Several years teaching has taught me that students lose steam as the semester moves forward, so why not foreground some of the more recent authors? I'm going to disrupt chronology and figure out ways to present Blerd Gurl and other contemporary writers a little earlier
in the semester.

Related:
• A Notebook on comic books
• African American Literary Studies

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