Course Syllabus AML 5305


Wednesdays 5-7:40   Academic 1 Room 232   

Professor D. Aza Weir-Soley         Office Hours:  Wednesdays  3-4:45     Room 347 Academic 1 BBC

Contact me:  305/919-4817

“The Personal is the Political.” In this course we will examine the politics of inter-sectionalities as they defined and shaped Audre Lorde’s life and work.  As a self-proclaimed Black-feminist-lesbian-mother-poet, Audre Lorde’s work continually pushed boundaries, insisting that her White sisters “see”  women of color and that her heterosexual sisters “see” lesbians, even as both groups struggled (together and apart) to challenge and dismantle patriarchal power structures. Lorde’s work examined Whiteness as a category of privilege even as she was married to a White man and lived for many years with a White woman.  Lorde also examined heteronormativity as a category of privilege and unsettled many of her Black sisters who were doubly oppressed as women and as Blacks, but were still privileged as heterosexual women in a homophobic culture. Last, but by no means least, she carefully dissected class dynamics by being willing to examine her own relative privilege as a university instructor and writer against the struggles of working-class and/or uneducated women of all races. The purpose of this class is to awaken us to the importance of critical dialogue vis a vis the politics of privilege, power and intersectionalities as we move into an era in which many of the gains of the feminist movement are at once threatened by the far right, and taken for granted by a generation of young women and men who have (often unknowingly) benefitted from the struggles of the past generation of women warriors. What does Lorde have to teach us 20years after her death?

Course Requirements:

Required Texts: Audre Lorde: Sister Outsider, Our Dead Behind Us, Zami, The Cancer Journals, The Black Unicorn, Collected Poems.  bell hooks: Feminism is for Everybody. A Course Reader will be assigned and students will purchase it from the copy center.

Group Presentations: There are 22 students in this course.  5 groups (of 4 or 5 students) will identify and present on one of our modules two times this semester.  Each group must select a different module and/or I will assign the modules.  Each member of the group will research 2 articles/essays that pertain to the module and present his/her findings to the class.  Your critique should identify the author’s thesis and apply socio-political, historical and literary analysis from the article to issues we discussed in our module. Groups will be named after famous Lorde titles: eg. Zami, Black Unicorn, Sister Outsider, Stations, The Transformation of Silence.

Papers: Presentations will be followed by a paper handed in one week after group presentations. You are expected to use the research from your presentations as secondary sources for your papers. Late papers will not be accepted.  

Paper 1 (due October 9): 8-10 page paper on 2 books (poetry/essays/fiction) by Audre Lorde.  You must have a clearly written thesis statement. You must use two secondary sources other than Lorde’s essays, but no more than three. Paper 2 (due November 20):  10-12 page paper on 4 books by Lorde. Please build on the argument made in your first paper.  4 secondary sources. 

Final Paper (due Dec 4) Your final exam will consist of a 18-20 page research paper using a minimum of 6 secondary sources.  You should extend and complicate the argument made in the first two papers.  Up to 2 pages may be devoted to your works cited information.  Students who do not turn in a Final paper will fail this course.  No Incompletes will be offered in this class. 

Grading Guidelines: Paper 1 (20%), Paper 2 (30%), Presentations (20%), Final Paper (30%)

Plagiarism is defined as submitting any piece of work written in whole or in part by someone else as your own.  It is a serious offense and, if confirmed, will result in disciplinary action.  Students should use the MLA format to cite sources for their papers.  Please see the online version of the MLA handbook for how to cite books, essays, etc. or you may purchase a copy of the handbook for your usage.  

Week 1: August 28             WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION

Week 2: Sept 4                    Module 1: Honoring Our Differences              Sister Outsider (1st half)

Week 3:Sept. 11                  Module 2: The Uses of the Erotic                     Sister Outsider (2nd half)                  

Week 4: Sept 18                  Module 3: Poetry is Not a Luxury                    The Black Unicorn

Week 5: Sept 25                  Module 4: The Uses of Anger                           The Collected Poems  

Week 6: Oct 2                      Group Presentations                                         Essays/book chapter on selected module

Week 7: Oct 9                      Module 5: Fighting to Live                                The Cancer Journals   Paper 1 due

Week 8: Oct 16                    Module 6: Who Needs Feminism?                   Feminism is for Everybody (First half)

Week 10: Oct 23                 Module 7: Narratology& Self-Construction   Zami: Guest lecture, Dr. H. Russell

Week 11: Oct 30                Module 8:  Global Sisterhood                           Feminism is for Everybody  (2nd half)

Week 12: Nov. 6                 Module 9: The Politics of Intersectionality    Essays from Course Reader/Guest lecture

Week 13: Nov 13                                Group Presentations                                         Essays/book chapter on selected module

Week 14: Nov 20                                Module 10: Voices of the Ancestors                Our Dead Behind US       Paper 2 due

Week 15: Nov 27                                Guest lecture (TBA)                                           “Audre Lorde and Trayvon Martin.”

Week 16: Dec 4                   Last Class                                                   Final Paper due in Class.

This professor reserves the right to make changes to this syllabus as deemed necessary.


7 thoughts on “Course Syllabus AML 5305

    • Ashely, It is great you can access it without the password. I guess that makes sense since blogs are for public access. However, this means I need to figure out how to make it private for us. If anyone has suggestions, do let me know…

      • I looked it up on Google, and I found this article: .

        It seems that, at the time this was written, only five users could be allowed to read a private blog. But! This was written in 2006, so things might have changed by now. There should be an options button on your dashboard, and privacy should be one of those options. I’m guessing that you can customize the level of privacy you have on your blog.

        I hope that helps!

  1. Danielle says:

    Hi everyone. I don’t know if anyone has thought about the groups they want to be in for the presentations, but I was thinking about working on the uses of the erotic.

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