Section Information for Spring 2017
This course will explore the rich but still neglected tradition of African American drama, from the mid-twentieth century to the present. We will explore issues related to the form and function of drama and major movement/moments: the transition from 1950s naturalism to 1960s “Revolutionary Theater”; Ntozake Shange and the emergence of feminist drama in the 1970s and 1980; the impact of August Wilson in the 80s and 90s; and the continuation and expansion of the tradition in the 21st century, spearheaded by such vibrant, cutting-edge artists as Suzan-Lori Parks, Robert O’Hara, and Lynn Nottage. Further, we will address an array of thematic, cultural, and social concerns, including but not limited to: how African Americans have grappled with notions of assimilation, uplift, and “respectability politics”; how questions of identity and subjectivity are complicated by the ambitions of the larger community; and stakes involved for those whose sexuality and gender expression depart from constructs that are sanctioned and deemed “normative.” Because performance is an integral to the study of drama, we will attend a live performance at one of the many theater spaces in our metropolitan DC region. Course requirements will include a midterm and final exam; one short essay and a research paper; and one presentation.