Black literature remains central to struggles for freedom and equality across the African diaspora. In this course, we will examine why black literature matters: What are its aesthetic and political imperatives? How have black writers used certain literary forms in their constructions of identity, freedom, and citizenship? Through our exploration of these questions, we will discover the significant matters of African American literature from the Harlem Renaissance moment to the Black Lives Matter movement. By reading a broad range of texts—essays, novels, drama, music, and poetry—by such authors as Alain Locke, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Audre Lorde, Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Jesmyn Ward, and Kendrick Lamar, we will develop a critical vocabulary for evaluating and engaging with this body of literature. This course contributes to the DIfference, Power, and Equity requirement by centering on the relationship between black literature and black political movements from the 1920s to the present.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
four papers totaling at least 20 pages, active class participation, class presentation
first-year students who have not taken or placed out of a 100-level English course; Africana Studies concentrators; American Studies majors
Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
Students will write and receive feedback on four papers. Papers will range from 3 to 7 pages, and feedback will focus on argument/claim development, critical inquiry, and structure.
Through discussions and short essays, students will develop skills for analyzing the role of literature in defining, responding to, and re-shaping issues of race, class, and gender during the Harlem Renaissance, Black Arts and Black Power, and Black Lives Matter movements. Taking its title from the current movement for black lives, a primary objective of this course is for students to develop skills for articulating the value of black aesthetics to social justice movements in the present.