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

Fall 2004

E 376M • African American Literature, 1940 to the Present

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
33150 MWF
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
PAR 204

Course Description

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? And if so, how is the color line implicated in a postmodernist framework differently than in a modernist one? For example, writers like the late Claudia Tate (Psychoanalysis and Black Novels) 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 modernist to postmodernist debates about the evolutionary process of the African-American novel as a racial protocol issue.

Grading Policy

Four critical essays (four pages each, ds) 70%
Group presentations/reading quizzes/class participation 30%

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.


Charles Chesnutt, The Marrow of Tradition
James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex Coloured Man
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching Go
Ann Petry, The Street
Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John
Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory


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