Section 1:Tuesday and Thursday 3:30-4:45 PM

Professor: Emily Rutter (English) and Simon Balto (History)

In this co-taught course, we will explore the decades that encompass the Civil Rights and Black Power movements through the lens of one of America’s most esteemed writers: James Baldwin. Examining a broad spectrum of works in Baldwin’s oeuvre, we will forge connections between his formal and ideological commitments, as well as his intervention in ongoing literary and political debates. Alongside Baldwin’s work, we will consider theories of race, gender, and sexuality; blues and jazz; and the distinct questions that historians and literary critics raise in their research. Toward the semester’s end, we will examine Baldwin’s influence on contemporary writers, including Jesmyn Ward, Claudia Rankine, Ta-Nehisi Coates, among others. Assignments will include active class participation; short textual and historical analyses that will build up to two research papers; and a written final exam that students will write as a class. No prior knowledge of African American literature or history is required; all are welcome.