Thursday April 27: Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman


Photo: Still from the 1967 film version of Dutchman

Next week (April 13) is spring break. The following Thursday (April 20) is a Monday schedule according to the Lehman calendar (opens as PDF), so we don’t meet until the 27th.

Reminder: The due date on The Warriors paper has been extended to Monday April 10 at midnight EST. After that, penalties will apply for late papers according to the assignment sheet. See the assignment sheet if you’ve lost yours and remember that you can view the film again from the video page on the course website. Also, there is a new assignment: due Friday, May 5th.
For Thursday April 27th:, we take a sharp turn and read the classic play Dutchman from Amiri Baraka (then named LeRoi Jones). For Thursday, read only the first half of the book :the play Dutchman. Even though it’s short, you need to read it slowly and carefully.

Presentation by Emerson, Dennis, Alessandra, and Nathan

Pay attention to the following to guide your reading:

  • What are the key themes or topics that you think the play talks about?
  • How does the setting of the play affect the action? What role does the subway train play?
  • What does it say about life in the city or urban environments?
  • There are crucial points in the play where the plot (action) turns that decide the outcome. What do you think they are?
  • Read the final few pages of the play more than once. What’s the significance of Clay’s final speech?

Watch the following short YouTube video with Baraka discussing the context of the play and some of what influenced him to write it.

Extra/Optional: Watch this biographical overview of Baraka and discussion of Dutchman I did for the television show The Queens Grapevine. It’s a little less than a half hour long.