Spring ’23–African American Literature

ENGL 535: African American Literature
Professor: Dr. Licia Hendriks
Location: Citadel
Time: Tuesday 5:30 – 8:15
Room: TBA

This survey course situates the African American literary tradition in a developing domestic and international cultural context, and addresses the ways in which it is (and isn’t) a legitimate offshoot of the overarching category of American Literature.  Encompassed in the discussions of a dozen full-length texts from the African American canon, topical interests consider how text becomes designated “ethnic,” how to think through and articulate opinions about racially sensitive issues, how the presumption of a preoccupation with race is complicated by class, gender, and sexuality issues, how to read and respond to the narratives composed by Black writers, and how to navigate the perpetuation of the art vs. propaganda debate which has raged unceasingly since the first American of African descent set pen to paper and claimed some literary merit for the result.

Simultaneously, the course follows the trajectory of African American literary criticism and the resulting assessments of theories of textual interpretation.  Expect to encounter writers such as Frederick Douglass, Charles W. Chesnutt, W.E.B. Du Bois, Nella Larsen, Richard Wright, Lorraine Hansberry, August Wilson, Toni Morrison, and Yaa Gyasi.  Performance will be assessed via two polished essays, several informal position/response papers, a conference-style presentation, and a comprehensive final exam.

Counts as an elective

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