Syllabus Ideas: Folk Modernities

This class dates back to my Special Fields exams—the transition to ABD. I was wondering about the markers attached to “afro-modernity,” questioning Gilroy’s formulations, and also thinking about “afro-modernity” through “diaspora,” as a site of cross-identification—essentially adapting Stuart Hall. The question was how “the rural” and “the folk” acted as “modern” points of “identification” across diaspora.

Maran’s novel was understood as a “truly African novel” by Harlem Renaissance authors, and this was my starting point. How had works focused on the “folk” helped to suture African-descended populations, and how could this work be considered part of racial modernity? This class is an attempt to think through these questions in some sustained way. (My course descriptions are not quite this messy.)

Other possible works? (The focus is pretty tight, the early part of the twentieth century.)

Paul Laurence Dunbar, Collected Poetry or Complete Stories
René Maran, Batouala
Jean Toomer, Cane
Claude McKay, Songs from Jamaica & Banana Bottom
Zora Neale Hurston, Mules & Men
Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land
Louise Bennett, Jamaica Labrish
Una Marson, Selected Poems
Amos Tutuola, Palm-Wine Drinkard
Flora Nwapa, Efuru
Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
Ngugi wa Thiong’o, The River Between
Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other