Instructor: Covington
MWF 11:15 AM – 12:10 PM

While reading Begin Again, a work that calls for a return to reading, we will consider the rise and death of the Black Queer dream, as Baldwin describes it in his work, to point out the farce of the American Dream and the social constructions of gender and “race,” specifically as they intersect in Black, queer lives. Glaude, Jr., uses Baldwin’s oeuvre to make the claim that America has failed the African American community in various aspects since the founding of the nation and has subsequently failed to follow through on promises to start anew. If, thinking with queer theory, queerness is thought of an identity that consistently troubles masculinity, a claim Glaude Jr., furthers when he acknowledges how Baldwin’s queer identity set him apart from Black Civil Rights leaders like MLK, Jr. then it is easy to understand how a Black queer would have tougher access to an American Dream. The primary texts by Baldwin are Giovanni’s Room or Another Country, with selections from Going to Meet the Man and Notes of a Native Son. Relevant criticism from queer theory and elsewhere will also be read. From there, we move to Robert Jones Jr’s The Prophets, which features a Black queer couple trying to keep their love on a slave plantation. We close by looking at another place where America has the chance to begin anew: television, where RuPaul champions a “new” dream, thus a new space to think about Black American identity.

Throughout our journey through Baldwin and the examination of the Black (queer) male in American media, we will supplement our reading of Baldwin with a look at visual media like Lovecraft Country and We’re Here to expand our conversation to how the Black (queer) male is represented in American visual media. We end with conversations on the use of minstrelsy in reality television, a modern place where the Black Queer dream is allegedly fully realized (if we are to accept majority narratives about the show), by looking at RPDR’s false promises. This foray into American reality television is meant to highlight, in a “real” way that the other texts are unable, how the Black queer radical has “died,” instead opting to sell himself (and everyone else) to promote a dream deferred since the founding of America.