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Fall 2020 LIT 499-03 The New Black Renaissance of the 2010s

Seminar in Research and Theory: The New Black Renaissance of the 2010s
Professor Cassandra Jackson
Course Meetings: Monday/Thursday 12:30-1:50pm

In 2016, Ariana Davis called the 2010’s the time of a “New Black Renaissance in Literature.” The term “New Black Renaissance” has since been picked up to describe Black cultural production more broadly, with critics citing Jordan Peele’s Get Out, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, Beyonce’s Lemonade, and Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” as pivotal moments in Black art. The decade also saw Black writers win 13 National Book awards, an award that famously overlooked Toni Morrison’s Beloved in 1988, leading to protest by Black writers.  This course will explore whether we can think of this era as a New Black Renaissance, asking what exactly do we mean by “renaissance,” “new,” and “Black.”  We will ground this exploration with an examination of the historical moments that shaped the decade: the killing of Trayvon Martin, the birth of the Black Lives Matter and the Me Too movements, the end of the Obama era, and the rise of public White Supremacy.  Moving between film, music, visual art, and literature by a new generation of black artists, including writers such as Jesmyn Ward, Colson Whitehead, Claudia Rankine, and Ta-nehesi Coates, we will consider how the 2010s made history.