Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

The Making of the Black Atlantic: Representations of Slavery in the African Diaspora

ENGL 281.401
fulfills requirements:
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

This is a comparative course which will examine how past and present
African-American, West African, Caribbean, Canadian, and Afro-European
writers—those who literally make up the Black Atlantic—imagine and represent
New World Slavery. We will begin the course by reading eighteenth century and
nineteenth century slave narratives, such as Olaudah Equiano (Igbo), Mary
Prince (Bermuda), Frederick Douglass (United States), and Juan Francisco
Manzano (Cuba). We then will explore the preoccupation that post-Civil Rights
and postcolonial writers have in recovering and reinventing the lives of
enslaved Africans, as well as their concerns about the status of fiction in
relation to memory, history, and realism. We will spend the majority of the
class examining the following Black Atlantic neo-slave narratives: Alejo
Carpentier’s The Kingdom of this World (Cuba); Octavia Butler’s Kindred (United
States); Caryl Phillip’s Cambridge (England); Dionne Brand’s At the Full and
Change of the Moon (Canada); Toni Morrison’s Beloved (The United States);
Maryse Conde’s I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (Guadeloupe); Fred D’Aguiar’s
The Longest Memory (Guyana); and Earl Lovelace’s Salt (Trinidad). Course fulfills the Cultural Diversity in US for Class 2012 and after in the College.