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African American Literature: Beginnings-1965 (ENLT 2261)

Total Credits: 3
Lecture Credits: 3

Description: This course explores the emergence and formal development of the historical African American literary tradition. You will read texts beginning in the 17th century through the latter half of the 20th century, including work by slaves, ex-slaves, those surviving Reconstruction, those surviving the era of Jim Crow, those from the Harlem Renaissance, and those flourishing in the Black Arts Movement. You will examine diverse genres, which may include but are not limited to the following: slave narratives, novels, plays, poems, speeches, song lyrics and music.

Topical Outline:
1. The African Diaspora
2. The Vernacular Tradition
3. The Literature of Slavery and Freedom
4. The Literature of Reconstruction
5. The Harlem Renaissance
6. Realism, Naturalism, Modernism

Learning Outcomes:
1. Recognize the scope and variety of works in African American literature (e.g. spiritual, gospel, blues, slave narrative, ballad, work song, sermon, oration, jazz, rap, autobiography, essay, poetry, short story, and novel)
2. Respond critically to works of African American literature and articulate an informed personal reaction
3. Articulate an understanding of individual and institutional dynamics of unequal power relations between groups and of how African American literature grows out of the political and social dynamic of race relations in the United States
4. Understand the development and changing meanings of African American identity in U.S. history and culture and the role of African American literature in nurturing identity and building community, and fostering social and political change
5. Identify and connect with African American writers and artists working in their own communities, and begin to recognize their work within this larger context

Prerequisites:  ENGL 1110 or ENGA 1110

  • Goal 6: The Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Goal 7: Human Diversity