BLACK POPULAR CULTURE: Dick Gregory and the History of Black Comedy

AAAS 331

At the peak of his fame in the 1960s, Dick Gregory may have been the most influential comedian in America, offering truths about race, the Black community and politics in an era highlighted by the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. Dick Gregory and the History of Black Comedy will examine the roots of the Black comedic tradition that informed Gregory’s art and activism, including the influence early 20th century figures such as Bert Williams and Lincoln Perry (“Stepin’ Fetchit”), the role that Black comedy has played in Black activism and as an articulation of Black Community v institutions like The Chitlin’ Circuit or the highly branded Def Comedy Jam.  The course will also examine the role of Black literary satire, including the work of George Schuyler and Ollie Harrington, as well as contemporary examples such as novelists Danzy Senna, Kiese Laymon, Paul Beatty, and Fran Ross, cartoonist Aaron McGruder, comedians Issa Rae, Dave Chappelle, Wanda Sykes, Chris Rock and, even critical race theorist and legal scholar Derrick Bell.

Day / Time: 

TuTh 06:15 PM-07:30 PM

Location: 

East Duke 204B

Instructor: 

Neal, Mark

Section: 

01