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African-American Women's Narrative

ENGL 570.301
instructor(s):
T 12-3

This course will be devoted to the study of narratives by Afro-American women. It will pose questions about the possible differences "race" and "gender" make in the composition of narratives. It will also ask what difference our own position, as "racial" and "gendered" readers makes with respect to Afro-American women's narratives. It will ask if there is, in fact, a possibility of a tradition of Afro-American women's narratives. And, if so, is that tradition coextensive with an Afro-American male tradition of narrative? Are there many differing strands of Afro-American women's narrative? Are there distinctive "breaks," or directional shifts that separate, for example, Audre Lord from Toni Morrison, Linda Brent from Nella Larsen? How does "class" play across the lines of Afro-American women's narratives? We shall read Afro-American women's narratives from the nineteenth through the last decade of the twentieth century. Class discussion will be the chief mode of "teaching," and "teams" of students will be expected to bring in first-rate oral reports to aid such discussion. There will be, at least, two papers assigned. Readings will include: Incident in the Life of a Slave Girl; Passing and Quicksand; Their Eyes Were Watching God; The Secret; Meridian; Zami; Sula; and Beloved.