Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Twenty-First Century African American Literature

ENGL 281.402
also offered as: AFRC 281
MW 2-3:30


Twenty-first century African American literature extends a long tradition of African American literature and, also, breaks this tradition as it creates new space for satire, experimentation, and less legible images of class, gender, race, and sexuality. This course will uncover the styles and themes that are defining the early years of 21st century African American literature. The main frames of this seminar will include “Why Satire Now?”, “Melancholic Hope,” “The Turn to Abstraction,” “Performing Blackness,” and “The Art of Not Making the Past the Present.” How does Elizabeth Alexander’s poem “Praise Song for the Day,” written for the first inauguration of Barack Obama, relate to Amiri Baraka’s 9/11 poem “Somebody Blew Up America”? This course will focus on the new literary voices that have emerged in the 21st century and, also, writers whose 21st century art is the late stage of their larger literary flow. Our list of authors will include Toni Morrison, Danzy Senna, Lynn Nottage, Colson Whitehead, Percival Everett, Octavia Butler, Claudia Rankine, Mat Johnson, and Paul Beatty.


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