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EXI539: From Bessie Smith to Beyonce

Aretha is gone! Beyonce is Queen! Nikki Minaj is fighting with Cardi B! This interdisciplinary course examines Black women performers from the early 20th century to the present.

Aretha is gone! Beyonce is Queen! Nikki Minaj is fighting with Cardi B! This interdisciplinary course examines Black women performers from the early 20th century to the present. Course discussion and materials will be anchored by the question: How do Black women performers negotiate past and present stereotypes of Black womanhood and play off of these typologies? In order to answer this question, students will discuss and study pivotal early 20th century movies, performance clips, music lyrics, popular magazines, as well as leading contemporary scholarship on Black women's "performativity" and embodiment. Students will also read late 19th and early 20th century primary and secondary sources to understand the lived experiences of Black women, cultural formations in the African Diaspora, and antebellum stereotypes that have endured for over a century. Students will learn to use methods from history, art criticism, sociology, and cultural studies to work with the above material.