ENGL470 - African-American Literature: From Slavery to Freedom
0101 - Edlie Wong

Prerequisite: Two English courses in literature; or permission of ARHU-English department. Examines African-American literature from its beginnings to the early twentieth century, including genres ranging from slave narratives, pamphlets, essays, and oratory, to poetry and fiction. Our emphasis is on the interaction between literature and literary forms, on the one hand, and historical and political developments in the push toward emancipation, on the other.

This discussion-based, writing-intensive course charts the development of black literary expression and cultural thought from the beginnings in the African slave trade to the eve of World War I. Ranging across literary genres, from the slave narrative, poetry, essay, short story, and serialized novel, we will examine how black writers, activists, and thinkers grappled with slavery and its legacy of racial thought in what W.E.B. DuBois described as the “color-line.” Slavery and abolition transformed early American culture and society and influenced the rhetorical strategies, formal structures, and figurative language of early African American literature. In our readings, we will ask, among other things, how black writers changed peoples’ ideas about themselves, sent people to war, and built or broke down ideas about “America,” race, gender, and class.