This course explores the historical role that humor and comedy have played in African American political resistance, cultural history, and creative expression, from the era of Slavery to the contemporary moment. We will examine works from a wide array of genres - including folktales, essays, short stories, Spoken Word poetry, stand-up routines, sketchshows, sitcoms, and films - to understand how comedy can serve as a vehicle for social and political commentary and change. We will study the comedic profiles and works of key Black artists who have distinguished themselves in the fields of humor and entertainment, including: Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Dick Gregory, Moms Mabley, Ishmael Reed, Chester Himes, Isabel Sanford, Sherman Hemsley, Eddie Murphy, Will Smith, Whoopi Goldberg, Queen Latifah, Wanda Sykes, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Martin Lawrence, Chris Rock, Bernie Mac, Kevin Hart, Mo’Nique, Boots Riley, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Anthony Anderson, to name a few.

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