2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description



Spring 2013 quarter

Andrew Buchman music composition , Chico Herbison American studies , Joye Hardiman literature
Fields of Study
African American studies, cultural studies, literature, music and writing
Preparatory for studies or careers in
the humanities or the arts, especially creative writing and music.

Afrofuturism is an emergent literary and cultural aesthetic embraced by artists who have imagined alternative futures, while often grappling with aspects of race, gender and ethnicity. Rone Shavers and Charles Joseph offered a critical working definition of the genre, first named by Mark Dery around 1995, as follows: "Afro-Futurism...combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy and magic realism with non-Occidental (non-Western) cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of people of color, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past." Artists often listed in an emerging Afrofuturist pantheon include authors Samuel R. Delany and Octavia Butler; visual artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Renée Cox; and musicians Parliament-Funkadelic (including George Clinton and Bootsy Collins), Sun Ra, DJ Spooky (Paul D. Miller), and Janelle Monáe.

After laying the groundwork for explorations of the work of these and other artists, we will ask students to help us address these and other avenues for explorations of Afrofuturism, including race and digital culture; the role of technology in cultural formations; notions of Utopia, Dystopia, and the "post-historical" in Afrofuturistic literature; non-Occidental (non-Western) cosmologies and their uses in Afrofuturistic texts; trauma theory and its role in Afrofuturistic literary and cultural production; Afrofuturism's relationship to digital and/or urban music (i.e., drum and bass, garage, hip-hop, house, jungle, neo-soul, funk, dub, techno, trip hop, etc.); Black identity in Western literature, in light of Afrofuturism's general interrogation of identity and identity politics; Afrofuturism and its relation to previous race-based art movements and aesthetics (e.g., the Harlem Renaissance, Black Arts Movement, the New Black Aesthetic, etc.); Black Music as a source of Afrofuturistic discourse and/or liberation; the black superhero as Afrofuturistic rebel, and the black comic book as a "paraliterary" source of contemporary folklore; Afrofuturism from the perspective of film studies and/or video culture; and/or the social and cultural implications of a theory of Afrofuturism.

Because the artworks we will be dealing with will be both exciting, provocative and fine, we think that students will find this hard intellectual work deeply rewarding, sometimes in unexpected ways. We expect to learn from students, and to share an intellectual adventure in an emerging, engrossing artistic terrain. While research writing and criticism will be emphasized, students will also be encouraged to pursue optional creative writing and music projects, for possible presentation to the entire program.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
March 20th, 2013 This program is now accepting Sophomore students.