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Civil Rights by Copyright: Survey of African American Literature

ENGL 081.401
fulfills requirements:
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major


Moving into the second decade of the 21st Century, one can witness a proliferation of memorialization projects, ranging from the unveiling of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial  near the National Mall in 2011 to a statue honoring Rosa Parks (the first African American woman to be so honored) in the U.S. Capital just this year.  As the nation approaches the 50th anniversary of a number of events associated with the Civil Rights Movement,  this course asks, how have African American writers and performers participated in these acts of remembrance?  Have they crafted artistic and performance strategies suitable as commentary on African American struggles for civil rights? Do these strategies help us understand when and how the Movement originated—and if it has reached a successful conclusion?  Paying close attention to questions of race, gender, class, and sexuality, this course will seek to understand the relationship between citizenship and literary form  by examining a body of works that span from the brink of the Civil War to the present. We will read works by Harriet Jacobs, Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Amiri Baraka, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Ntozake Shange, and Katori Hall.