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Topics in African-American Literature

ENGL 281.401
instructor(s):
TR 12-1:30

This advanced seminar is for students who want to explore the intricacies of the African American narrative tradition. Hence, we will explore the narrative act as it manifests itself within and across generic boundaries: prose fiction, autobiography, drama, and poetry. Though the course utilizes texts that range chronologically from the early 19th-Century to the present, this is not a historical survey of African American literature. Rather, our interest lies in the ways writing and writers from different historical and/or cultural circumstances are engaged in dialogue, not only writers of their own time period, but with writers who have preceeded them as well. We will consider the oral tradition and its impact on literary expression, the function of race and gender in literary representation, and the role of revision in the formation of a literary tradition. Readings for the course will include works by Frederick Douglass, Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, Hortense Spillers, Sherley Anne Williams, Deborah McDowell, August Wilson, and Lorene Cary. Work for the course will consist of several shorter papers and one longer critical paper.