Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project contextualizes and historicizes the relationship of race to poetic innovation in African American poets’ work by expanding the conventional understanding of “black aesthetics,” a concept closely identified with the Black Arts Movement (mid-1960s-1970s). By delineating the contours and consequences of African American poetic innovation in a range of historical and cultural moments, the study redefines black aesthetics to account for the century-long efforts of African American poets and critics to tackle issues of racial self-determination on the field of poetics. Ultimately, the project argues that black aesthetics exerts a powerful, yet often unrecognized influence, affirmatively and negatively motivating poetic innovation and overdetermining how such innovation is read.