Though the mainstream media has just recently become acutely aware of the precarious state of black life in America, African Americans have always been cognizant of how their very lives depended on constant vigilance, caution, and tactical living. As a result, black writers have written about the various methods that African Americans have used to resist oppression and brutality—from mailing themselves to freedom to finding problematic solace in Shirley Temple. In this course, we will read narratives that explore how black Americans have always had to protect themselves as they endured slavery, segregation, lynching, and various other forms of legal and extralegal persecution. Through readings of legal cases, plays, novels, and poetry, students will become familiar with important works of African American literature and the cultural contexts in which they were written. Possible writers include Amiri Baraka, Paul Beatty, Henry “Box” Brown, Countee Cullen, Ralph Ellison, Chester Himes, Harriet Jacobs, Richard Wright, and Toni Morrison. Requirements include an in-class presentation, at least one short close- reading paper, and a final research paper.