New Course for Fall 2008

ENGL 185.10 Lorraine Hansberry and 20th-Century Black Intellectual and Cultural History

Lorraine Hansberry is most famous for her perennially popular play Raisin in the Sun, most recently revived (in 2008) by Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad, and Audre McDonald, in an ABC television special. But in her brief life (she died at age 35), Hansberry produced several other outstanding works of theater, journalism, and non-fiction. Her intellectual range was wide and deep, touching on issues of Pan-Africanism and African liberation struggles, gay and lesbian identity, Cold War politics, black feminist activism, and anti-racism.

In this seminar, which meets once weekly for 2_ hours, we will read all of Lorraine Hansberry’s work (published and unpublished), view various versions of her plays, read the plays of affiliated playwrights (including Jean Genet, LeRoi Jones, and Adrienne Kennedy), and explore cultural theory and intellectual history related to her plays and their various thematic and political trajectories (texts might include: George G.M. James’s Stolen Legacy, Nina Simone, “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black,” Harold Cruse, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual).

The class will be discussion-based and will involve students in research related to Hansberry’s life and career. There will also be a performance component.

Taught by Prof. Gayle Wald
Meets once a week, Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. to noon.

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