We met at Duke University - mid-summer, in the mid Atlantic, at mid-campus - to talk about teaching courses that focused on the post-soul aesthetic. We met outside the John Hope Franklin Center, and soon enough we five youngish black professors were walking a hallway towards a conference room near the African and African American Studies program. Not at all surprisingly, the walls of the hallway were lined with framed photographs of the esteemed John Hope Franklin at various stages throughout his long and storied career. For me, given the topic I was about to raise among these professional colleagues, walking that hallway was something like running a gauntlet: Franklin's career is one of continued, sustained Negro uplift, as the photomontage of him documents. The post-soul aesthetic, on the other hand, critiques and questions certain black assumptions and traditions, and most professors who teach the art and literature of this post-civil rights movement aesthetic must, to apprehend the course material, assume a peculiar, if not precarious, pedagogical stance in the classroom, one that respects careers like Dr. Franklin's, but also constructively interrogates - and sometimes explodes - the very presumptions and precepts on which such a career stands.

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Copyright © 2007, Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in African American Review 41:4 (2007), 787-803.

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