Topics in African-American Literature: Black Literature and the Spirit
Africans are a highly spiritual people, and African Americans have retained much of their spirituality in the humanistic West. Modes of spirituality in African American literature include Christianity, conjure, faith healing, hoodoo, animism, pantheism, and communion with African deities and ancestral spirits. We will explore the ways in which spiritual elements inform and empower the works of African American writers, as well as the literary and historical contexts and connections and the quality of these works. Readings will probably include Charles Chesnutt, The Conjure Woman; James Baldwin, Go Tell it on the Mountain; Zora Neale Hurston, Moses, Man of the Mountain; James Weldon Johnson, God's Trombones; Paule Marshall, Praisesong for the Widow; Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo; and John Edgar Wideman, Sent for You Yesterday. There will be two quizzes, a mid-term paper, and a choice of a final paper or an exam.