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This course explores canonical American literature from the nineteenth century alongside a selection of contemporary literary and cinematic texts that call on and intervene with this body of work. Following Toni Morrison’s charge that the contemplation of a black presence “is central to any understanding of our national literature and should not be permitted to hover at the margins of the literary imagination,” this course focuses on how ideas of race are explored throughout the canon and how they have been carried forward. Works considered throughout the term come from, among others, Julie Dash, Frederick Douglass, Saidiya Hartman, Harriet Jacobs, Mat Johnson, Herman Melville, Toni Morrison, Nate Parker, Edgar Allen Poe, Quentin Tarantino, Mark Twain, and Colson Whitehead.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
weekly reading responses, active class participation, three close readings (500 words each), annotated bibliography, class presentation, final paper (13-15 pages)
a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam
English majors, then sophomores considering the major
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit: