Spring 2010

Black Music and Black Poetry

Listed in: Black Studies, as BLST-54  |  English, as ENGL-15


Carol Y. Bailey (Section 01)


(Offered as Black Studies 54 [US] and English 15.) Music is the central art form in African American cultures. This beginning survey course considers the relationship between poetry and music from the oral and written poetry of slavery to contemporary hip-hop. We will pay special attention to the ways poetry uses musicians as subjects and builds on such musical forms as spirituals, the blues, rhythm and blues, reggae, and jazz. The course will begin with the importance of music in the Western African cultures from which most enslaved Africans came and pay careful attention to lexicon, rhythm, refrain, pitch, tone, timbre, cadence, and call-and-response. Students will be expected to read poetry, hear it read by its creators, and listen to its musical inspirations and manifestations. We will pay special attention to such periods as the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and today’s hip-hop music. We will read such poets as Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Michael Harper, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, and Brenda Marie Osbey; and hear music by classic musicians like Billie Holiday and John Coltrane and newer voices like Mos’ Def, John Legend, and india.arie. Throughout the course we will focus on the relationship between artists and their audiences and the unique role of cities such as New York, Chicago, and New Orleans.

Preference given to students who have taken Black Studies 11 or a first course in English. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Rushing.

If Overenrolled: First come, first served


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010