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    Vassar College
  Sep 24, 2017
Catalogue 2017-2018
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ENGL 362 - Text and Image

Semester Offered: Spring
1 unit(s)
(Same as AFRS 362 ) Topic for 2017/18b:  Because Dave Chappelle Said So. The course will explore the history and movement of black, mostly male, satirical comic narratives and characters. From Hip Hop to Paul Beatty’s White Boy Shuffle to Spike Lee’s Bamboozled to Dave Chappelle to Aaron McGruder’s Boondocks to Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali G character, black masculinity seems to be a contemporary site of massive satire. Using postmodernism as our critical lens, we will explore what black satirical characters and narratives are saying through “tragicomedy” to the mediums of literature, film, television and politics. We will also think about the ways that black archetypes (coon, mammy, sapphire, uncle tom, pickaninny, sambo, tragic mulatto, noble savage, castrating bitch) have evolved into cutting edge comedy on the internet like Awkward Black Girl. We start to see the beginnings of this strategic evolution taking place in the Civil Rights movement when black leaders use television and visual expectations of blackness to their national and global advantage. How did black situation comedies and black comedians of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s speak to and/or disregard that history. Are contemporary comic narratives, narrators and characters, while asserting critical citizenship, actually writing black women’s subjectivities, narratives and experiences out of popular American History? Does satire have essentially masculinist underpinnings? How are these texts and characters communicating with each other and is there a shared language? Is there a difference between a black comic text and a black satirical text? Have comic ideals of morality, democracy, sexuality, femininity and masculinity changed much since the turn of the century? Did blaxploitation cinema revolutionize television for black performers and viewers? How has the internet literally revolutionized raced and gendered comedy? These are some of the questions we will explore in Because Dave Chappelle Said So. Kiese Laymon.

One 2-hour period.

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