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African American Modernism

ENGL 281.401
crosslisted as: AFRC 281
instructor(s):
TR 9:00-10:30
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics 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

In this course, we will interrogate modernity and literary modernism in relation to selected texts by African Americans writing during the late nineteenth century, through the Harlem Renaissance, and into the twentieth century. Does modernity/modernism look differently if viewed from the perspective of African American writing with an awareness of “the modern moment” and configurations of gender and race? Does the modernist movement in America as interpreted by literary historians, cultural critics, and critical theorists allow for the presence of African Americans writing as subjects?

Texts: Claude McKay’s Banjo; Toni Morrison’s Jazz; Jean Toomer’s Cane; Zora Neale Hurston’s Jonah’s Gourd Vine; Nella Larsen’s Quicksand; Langston Hughes’s Political Plays; and Alain Locke’s New Negro Anthology. Films of Paul Robeson (Body and Soul, Emperor Jones, Borderline) and Josephine Baker (Siren of the Tropics, Zou Zou, Princess Tam Tam). Two papers, one of which may be a project, and one examination are required.