In this advanced seminar, we will confront the ways that issues of belonging and community assume transhistorical weight in African American expressive culture. We will move from the rhetorical negotiations of the African American liberation narrative (Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs) which argue for African Americans's place in the human community through the neo-liberation fictions (Sherley Anne Williams and Charles Johnson), which work to subvert the kinds of foreclosures that grow out of identity politics. We will turn our attention in the latter portion of the course to narratives-poetic, dramatic, cinematic and musical-that struggle with the dilemmas of inter- and intraracial allegiance, aspiration, and critical consciousness. Authors in the course will include Nella Larsen, Andrea Lee, Toi Derricotte, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Alan McPherson, and Toni Morrison. There will also be screenings of the films "Illusions" and "Drop Squad." There will be several short papers and a final exam.