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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Sonnet H. Retman
AFRAM 320
Seattle Campus

Black Women in Drama

Character types of Black women as represented in plays by Black women. Some Black male playwrights are juxtaposed with Black female writers for comparative analysis. Playwrights include Georgia Douglas Johnson, Angelina Grimke, Alice Chidress, Lorraine Hansberry, Ira Aldridge, LeRoi Jones.

Class description

This class will explore the politics of performance in various plays by black women playwrights, from the Harlem Renaissance to the present. Throughout the quarter, we will pursue a number of questions: how do these playwrights invoke and transform genre to dramatize particular experiences, stories and questions? Within these plays, who carries the burden of embodiment in the public sphere? If some people are designated as hyper-visible, who and what remains neutral, unseen? How is the private sphere constructed in relation to gender, race, class and sexuality? How do particular modes of performance and genre affirm or call into question conventional notions of citizenship and the nation? Many of these plays open up new avenues for envisioning black identity as it intersects with gender, sexuality and class; alternative conceptions of community; and fresh ways of narrating individual and collective histories. As we read, we will delineate the intertwined aesthetic and political aspects of this dramatic tradition. Possible playwrights include Zora Neale Hurston, Marita Boner, Alice Childress, Lorraine Hansberry, Adrienne Kennedy, Ntozake Shange, Suzi Lori Parks, Anna Deveare Smith, Lynn Nottage, Deal Orlandersmith, Charlynne Woodward and Lisa Thompson.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lecture and group discussion. Student presentations.

Recommended preparation

Background course work including AFRAM 101: Introduction to African American Studies; AFRAM 150: Introduction to African American History; AFRAM 214/ ENG 258 Survey of African American Literature; and AFRAM 270: The Jazz Age.

Class assignments and grading

Research papers, presentations, Go post and other in-class writing assignments.

Research papers, presentations, Go post and other in-class writing assignments.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Sonnet H. Retman
Date: 02/23/2012