Do writers who are defined racially as “Black” contribute to the category of “Southern” literature? Is the category changed by the inclusion of black writers? Is Alice Walk right in asserting the Southern literature means white writers? Do men and women writers have different responses to regional identification? We will examine the issues of race, region, place, and space as categories of analysis through the lens of “Black South,” a term coined during the Black Arts explosion in the South during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. We will consider whether periodization or historical location matters in constituting spatial and cultural affiliation, especially in reading writers emerging in the first half of the twentieth century (Jean Toomer, Sterling Brown, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright) along side those from the Civil Rights era (Ernest Gaines, Nikki Giovanni, Etheridge Knight), and those from the Post-Civil Rights generation (Randall Kenan, Natasha Trethewey, Olympia Vernon, Kevin Young), as well as those whose canons overlap delineated time lines, periods or movements (Margaret Walker, Maya Angelou, John A. Williams, Alice Walker). Our examination will include attention to “blackness” and “southern” as constructed categories within Southern literature and to representations of gender socialization, and maturation.
TEXTS: Tayari Jones, Silver Sparrow (2011); Randall Kenan, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead and Other Stories (1992); Yusef Komunyakaaa, Magic City (1992); Brenda Marie Osbey, History and Other Poems (2013); Natasha Trethewey, Native Guard (2006); Olympia Vernon, Eden (2003); Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones (2011), Kevin Young, Dear Darkness: Poems (2008). REQUIREMENTS: a response essay; an essay-type midterm examination; and a final essay or project.