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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2009

E 376S • African American Literature since the Harlem Renaissance

Unique Days Time Location Instructor

Woodard, H

Course Description

Please refer to the course schedule for course days, time, room location, prerequisites and possible cross-listings:

Is the problem of the 21st century still the color line—as W.E.B. Du Bois (The Souls of Black Folks) termed it a century ago? Or have we reached a so-called "post racial" or racially transcendent phase or era in which race has significantly declined—ideas foregrounded in writings by Julius Wilson and Paul Gilroy, among others? How is the color line implicated in a postmodernist framework differently than in a modernist one? For example, writers like the late Claudia Tate argue that because of the continuation of racial oppression and “the demand for black literature to identify and militate against it, black literature evolves so as to prove that racism exists in the real world and is not a figment of the black imagination.” Such a view resists psychoanalytical readings that center the individual's primary nurturing environment, rather than the external circumstances that precondition that environment. Conversely, psychoanalysis readings of racism risk designating race as pathology. Enter Epifano San Juan, who observes that race is “an unstable and decentered complex of social meanings constantly being transformed by political struggle…. It is a framework for articulating identity and difference, a process that governs the political and ideological constitution of subjects/agents in history.” This course engages the eclectic quality of African-American literature since the Harlem Renaissance in the context of modernist to postmodernist debate.

Grading Policy

Two critical essays (4 pages each, typed; ds): 30%; One research paper (8-10 pages; typed; double-spaced): 35%; One prospectus for the research paper (1-2 pages; typed; double-spaced): 15%; Response papers; reading quizzes; class participation: 20%. Regular attendance is required. More than four absences will be sufficient grounds for failure in the course. The four allowed absences will include illness, deaths of relatives, and other emergencies. If you are more than five minutes late or leave before class ends (without permission), you will be counted absent for that class. You are responsible for all work covered in your absence.


Suzan-Lori Parks, The America Play; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Ann Petry, The Street; August Wilson, The Piano Lesson; Van Jordan, Macnolia: Poems; Toni Morrison, A Mercy


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