This course surveys African American literature from its origins to the present. We will read a wide variety of authors and genres, including fiction, essays, and poetry as well as visual art and music. While we can’t cover the entire sweep of African American literature in a ten-week class, we will begin to think about how these texts form part of a tradition: what formal elements tie these texts together? How do they respond to and revise each other? What kinds of questions are these texts asking about racial identity and the relationship between literature, culture, history, nationhood, and citizenship? Throughout the semester, we will examine multiple approaches to and definitions of African American literature. Ultimately, this course will deepen your understanding of African American literature and improve your reading, writing, and critical thinking skills.
Arts & Letters (A&L) courses create meaningful opportunities for students to engage actively in the modes of inquiry that define a discipline. Courses are broad in scope and demonstrably liberal in nature (that is, courses that promote open inquiry from a variety of perspectives). Though some courses may focus on specialized subjects or approaches, there will be a substantial course content locating that subject in the broader context of the major issues of the discipline. Qualifying courses will not focus on teaching basic skills but will require the application or engagement of those skills through analysis and interpretation.
Multicultural, Identity, Pluralism, and Tolerance (IP) courses examine the social construction of collective identities, the emergence of representative voices from varying social and cultural standpoints, and the effects of prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination. The purpose of courses in this category is to analyze the general principles underlying tolerance, or the lack of it.
Lower-division Elective courses allow students to choose (or “elect”) courses or faculty specific to their own developing interests, enabling them thereby to shape their own educational experience. Major II students can also use one lower-division elective to fulfill the Writing Requirement with ENG 209 The Craft of the Sentence.
English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts. The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.