Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

The Color of Laughter: Introduction to African American Literature

ENGL 081.401
TR 10:30-12:00 pm


This introductory course will study how humor is employed as a method for addressing the circumstance of race in the U.S.  Could it be that writers like Richard Wright, Ann Petry, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison depict the sadness and tragedy in black life in order to counteract the racial stereotypes generated by the minstrel tradition?  To answer this question, we will consider works by Langston Hughes, Charles Johnson, Ishmael Reed, Percival Everett, as well as the work of black comedians including Richard Pryor, Cedric the Entertainer, Bernie Mac, Dave Chappelle, Patrice O’Neal, Wanda Sykes, Key and Peele, and Chris Rock. Requirements for the course can be fulfilled through blog posts, short papers, and a final project (along with a healthy sense of humor).     

fulfills requirements
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Cultural Diversity in the US of the College's General Education Curriculum