Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG434H1S L0101

ENG434H1S   L0101   T1-3
Advance Studies Group 3: Black Epics of the Americas
Instructor: Prof. G.E. Clarke
Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room 804
Email: torontopoetlaureate@gmail.com

Brief Description of Course: The course title should read “Black” “Epics” of the “Americas,” for each of its elements may suggest polyphonous indefiniteness. However, our purpose will be to focus on ‘epics”—or book-length poems—authored by persons of African/Negro heritage whose identities have evolved primarily in the western Atlantic. Our poets originate in Canada, the Caribbean, South Africa, and the United States. Arguably, they have been called to essay verse-narratives due to desires to answer Aristotle’s measure of poetic  “greatness” as well as to add “African” voices, authoritatively, to putatively Eurocentric canons. Yet, these interests are challenged or constrained by a Modernist emphasis on brevity (cf. Pound) and a Post-Modernist predilection for difficulty (multicultural allusiveness and/or deliberately frustrated or disrupted discourse). In this course, we will examine the ways in which “Black” poets work to domesticate a European canonical form, rendering it hospitable to African Diasporic heritages and narratives. Expect to read epics by Tolson, Walcott, and NourbeSe Philip as well as epyllia by Christianse, Dove, Compton, Césaire, etc. 

Required Reading: TBA

First Three Authors/Texts: TBA

Method of Evaluation: Vocal participation and essay writing.

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