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African-American Literature

ENGL 081.401
instructor(s):
MWF 12

In this introductory course we will read fiction, non-fiction and autobiography; authors will include Frank Webb, Frances Harper, Anna Julia Cooper, Charles Chestnutt, W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Ann Petry and others. The course concludes with James Baldwin's Another Country. We will discuss the ways in which these texts conceive the experience or history of slavery and the ways in which they represent race; a racial self; a racial self that is also gendered. We will also be concerned with the ways in which these texts are influenced by and attempt to influence their political milieu. For example, we will discuss the negative "race effect" of the American version of Social Darwinism; the effect of the "new" anthropological science upon an emergent black cultural history at the turn into the 20th century; the influence of liberal individualism upon self-representation; the role played by a nationalist politics and its presumed opposite, political and social assimilation. We will also discuss shifting critical perspectives on this literature.

This is a lecture/discussion course in which students' participation will be critical. Course work will consisst of three short-essay assignments, a mid-term exam, and a take-home final. Students will also be asked to maintain a readings response journal.