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African- & Jewish-American Literature

ENGL 281.401

This course will introduce students to the literary traditions of African- and Jewish-American writers as they parallel, intersect with, and inform one another.   Using the book of Exodus as an archetypal frame, we will trace the manner in which bondage and freedom, atrocity and deliverance become recurring narrative tropes.  Moving chronologically, we will pay close attention to the defining moments prompting the physical and imaginative flights undertaken by the African- and Jewish-American literary subject.   The literatures of migration and immigration will provide a way to chart the various negotiations with (and navigations through) the city as a site of segregation, assimilation, and confrontation. While an awareness of group specificity will be encouraged, we will attempt to understand the shared concerns evoked by terms like telling, literacy, law, memory, amnesia, and style. Readings will include work from the Bible, the Haggadah, Douglass, Hughes, Aleichem, Yezierska, Larsen, Cahan, Schwartz, Hurston, Ellison, Roth, Malamud, Morrison, and Ozick. This course is designed as a fast-paced seminar and thus is intended as an opportunity for advanced majors with strong literary interests and competencies to engage in cross-cultural study.

fulfills requirements