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Belonging and Desire in African American Narrative

ENGL 281.402
instructor(s):
MW 3-4:30

African American narratives have long expressed the issue of belonging as an intrinsic part of what it means to achieve one^ys humanity. This advanced seminar will be looking at texts ranging from the mid-19th Century to the present in order to discover how narratives written by African American writers engage the issue of belonging, especially as it assumes the importance of racial authenticity, pride, and the criteria for acceptance into racial communities. Do gender and class play a role in these determinations? Is there pressure on African American writers to tailor their writing to conform to the dictates of identity politics? What happens when authors present narratives which espouse points of view which diverge from racial consensus? Authors in the course will include Frederick Douglass, Sherley Anne Williams, August Wilson, Richard Wright, Nella Larsen, Andrea Lee, and Toni Morrison. There will also be screenings of films by Julie Dash, Spike Lee, and Charles Burnett. Work for the course will consist of several short papers and a final examination.