Has the U.S. really entered a 'post-racial era'? To evaluate whether and how race matters in the twenty-first century, we will need to understand what race has meant historically. We will first turn to the nineteenth-century African American liberation narrative, in which authors insist on their place in the human community as they also call attention to the injustice of slavery. From there we will examine works produced in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries, when attention to gender, class, and sexual preference complicates what it means to be black. Authors in the course will likely include Frederick Douglass, Andrea Lee, Charles Johnson, Danzy Senna, Edward P. Jones, August Wilson, and Toni Morrison. Work in the course will consist of short papers, a class presentation, and a final project.