February is African-American History Month. I know we haven’t had a lot of classes during February (especially because I got sick) but I’d like to offer you an extra-credit assignment honouring a very important African-American Queer writer.
The assignment is: go see Langston Hughes’ house at 20 East 127th Street. Formerly, visitors could tour his house. It is closed at the moment (d’oh!) but it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Last year, people raised a lot of money to preserve it against urgings to turn it into apartments or condos in what is now a very trendy neighbourhood.
Once you see the outside of the house, walk around a little bit and look at the neighbourhood. (Disclaimer: while this area of NYC is pretty safe – I used to hang out regularly not far from there and often land up walking around E. 125th at weird hours – please use common sense, as you should always do in the city!) Think about what it might have been like when Hughes lived there and what he absorbed from the area – not just as an African-American man, but as a Queer African-American man.
Then write about it. How you choose to do so is up to you. You might:
- Write a narrative of your thoughts (you could even take notes as you walk around and write them up as a stream-of-consciousness narrative)
- Write a poem inspired by Hughes and the area
- Write a short story inspired by Hughes and the area
- Create an online narrative with photos and text (if you choose this, you need to actually post it and give me the link!)
- Write an essay based on your experience
- Come up with your own idea! 🙂
The only requirement I want to place on your assignment is that IT NEEDS TO RELATE TO QUEERNESS IN SOME WAY. (This is a Queer Literature class.) How you choose to negotiate that is up to you.
THIS EXTRA-CREDIT ASSIGNMENT IS DUE MONDAY, MARCH 6.
Prof. Jaime Weida