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HIST 488
Fictions of African American History Fall 2020
Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed HIST 488 / AMST 488

Class Details

This course examines African American fiction, largely from the late 19th and very early 20th century. These Black authors, none of them professional historians, try to bring African American History to light in an era before this history was taken seriously by the white academy. Many of the authors we examine were activists and journalists who set their novels and short stories during Slavery and Emancipation. We will consider inherently radical act of reading and writing in a society where black literacy was illegal until after the Civil War. Alongside the fiction we will read modern historiography of the era. We will also delve into some of slave narratives published after Emancipation. Readings will include works by Booker T. Washington, James Weldon Johnson, Charles Chesnutt, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Sutton Griggs. This is a tutorial and will be taught online.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 2889
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Every week a student will write either an essay or a critique. For the final assignment students may either write a review of 2-3 works of historiography OR substantially revise an essay or critique they did during the semester.
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: History, Africana, and American Studies Majors will have preference. As well as students who have never taken a tutorial.
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
HIST 488 Division II AMST 488 Division II
WS Notes: Students will write every week (essays and critiques) and receive feedback from their partners and from the professors. The final assignment of the semester is major revision of a one essay or critique. Students will receive feedback on their paper's organization and argument as well as points of style. Since we will be reading both fiction and historiography, we will discuss as a group the different challenges each form poses to essay writing.
DPE Notes: African Americans writing during this time lived under the laws and customs of Jim Crow and White Supremacy. Lacking political power, they turned to the power of the written word. We will evaluate the way writing and fiction helped ameliorate (or not) the racial power structures.
Attributes: HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada

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