E 314V • African American Literature and Culture
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
This course will explore African American Literature and Culture through a historical lens. Using World War I and World War II as nodal points, this course will look at the strategies of the Harlem Renaissance as they compare and contrast to post-WWII proto Civil Rights texts. While focusing predominately on works of fiction and poetry, the course will also engage with nonfiction texts that exemplify some of the political, social and historical circumstances that surround these literary works. African American literature is both a highly aesthetic form as well as an often socially engaged one. The historical referents of the world wars offer a global context to American experience and a chance to think about a broader audience for African American literature. Finally, by exploring these two literary periods, we will explore wide range of dominant strains in African American literature and culture including assimilation, black entrepreneurialship, communism and socialism, passing, Black Nationalism, unionism, regionalism and urbanism, the black middle class, and others all within a historically specific context.
Students will complete three 5-6-page papers (first draft: 10%, second draft: 15% of final grade), each with a peer review. They will also be asked to complete three 2-page response papers, each worth 5% of their final grade. 10% of the final grade will be class participation (which will include peer reviews as well as informal writing assignments).
This course has six texts and a course packet. The texts are: Jean Toomer's Cane, Nella Larson's Quicksand, Richard Wright's Uncle Tom's Children, Ann Petry's The Street, Chester Himes' If He Hollers Let Him Go, and Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun.