From slave narratives to the novel, from blue notes to hip hop lyrics, African-American writers have wrestled with the fundamental question: “What does it mean to be American?” In answering this question, African-American writers consistently reveal the paradox of American slavery and American racism —- a position that, more often than not, requires that African-American writers challenge the orthodoxy of the American Dream. In this survey course, we shall trace the evolution of African-American literature as it relates to issues of national identity, citizenship, gender and race. The focus is on literary texts by Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Ann Petry, Ralph Ellison, Albert Murray, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Leroi Jones, Octavia Butler, John Edgar Wideman and Toni Morrison. Essays, music and films from other artists who have influenced the creative vision and the movement of African-American literature supplement the works of fiction, poetry and drama that constitute the central material of the course.
Fulfills Distributional Course in Arts & Letters