Sunday, March 27, 2011

Screening for 3/29 and 3/31: Marlon Riggs's "Black Is...Black Ain't"

Marlon Riggs, 1957-1994
This Tuesday and Thursday, we will be continuing our discussion of Morrison's The Bluest Eye. In addition, we will view Marlon Riggs's 1994 documentary Black Is...Black Ain't, in two parts--Part One on Tuesday, and Part Two on Thursday. The first half of class will be devoted to the novel, and the second half to the film. Please come prepared to discuss, watch, listen, and take notes. I will also return your Passing literary analysis essays. 
Below is a poem by black lesbian feminist poet and scholar Audre Lorde (1934-1992). Here is a link to more information on Lorde, her life, and her work: Voices From the Gap: Audre Lorde 

Audre Lorde, 1994-1992

is the total black, being spoken
from the earth's inside.
There are many kinds of open
how a diamond comes into a knot of flame
how sound comes into a word, coloured
by who pays what for speaking.

Some words are open like a diamond
on glass windows
singing out within the crash of sun
Then there are words like stapled wagers
in a perforated book—buy and sign and tear apart—
and come whatever will all chances
the stub remains
an ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge.
Some words live in my throat
breeding like adders. Other know sun
seeking like gypsies over my tongue
to explode through my lips
like young sparrows bursting from shell.
Some words
bedevil me

Love is word, another kind of open.
As the diamond comes into a knot of flame
I am Black because I come from the earth's inside
Now take my word for jewel in the open light.
                                                           --Audre Lorde

Here is a link to a literary analysis of the poem: On Audre Lorde's "Coal"

All best, 
Prof. Williams

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Passing, Hollywood-Style!

What follows are two scenes from the film adaptations of novelist Fannie Hurst's Imitation of Life (clip misspells "imitation"). The first version, made in 1934, stars African American performers Louise Beavers (Delilah) and the luminous Fredi Washington (Peola) as the mother and daughter, respectively. The second adaptation, filmed in 1959, features Juanita Moore (Delilah) as the long-suffering mother, and Susan Kohner (Sarah Jane) as her daughter. Interestingly, Susan Kohner is a white actress passing as a black woman passing as a white woman in this version.

Imitation of Life, 1934. Delilah (Louise Beavers) and Peola (Fredi Washington).

 Imitation of Life, 1959. Annie (Juanita Moore) and Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner).