ENGL234 - African-American Literature and Culture

An exploration of the stories black authors tell about themselves, thei communities, and the nation as informed by time and place, gender, sexuality, and class. African American perspective themes such as art, childhood, sexuality, marriage, alienation and mortality, as well as representations of slavery, Reconstruction, racial violence and the Nadir, legalized racism and segregation, black patriotism and black ex-patriots, the optimism of integration, and the prospects of a post-racial America.

In this course, we will explore how African American writers represent black bodies in their physicality and capacity for expression in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America. We will ask how ongoing forces of objectification, exoticization, and racialization have impacted how African Americans have experienced and represented the body both as a marked entity made to signify within racist structures and as an empowering source of subversive expression and self-assertion. We will read poems, short stories, novellas, essays, and excerpts from longer works by writers including Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Nella Larsen, Jean Toomer, Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde, and Z.Z. Packer. Our reading will offer encounters with bodies and their expressive efforts in terms of sexuality, race, justice, community, protest, and art. A film analysis assignment will allow students the opportunity to critically engage with films adapted from novels such as Beloved, Native Son, and Precious.

ENGL 234 Summer 2016