The purpose of this graduate seminar is to introduce students to the fiction and essays of Ralph Ellison, Ernest J. Gaines, and James Alan McPherson. We will ruminate on the gendered, aesthetic, and political circumstances which lead to the formulation of literary traditions. Though our primary task is to read these authors's works, we will employ secondary sources to interrogate how these writers conceptualize American citizenship and manhood. Readings for the course will include Invisible Man, A Lesson Before Dying, and Elbow Room. Class presentations and essays will help students to explore their own critical idiosyncracies and assert a critical voice.