ENG241 201903 Undergraduate

Spring 2020
ENG 241
Applies To: 
Introduction to African American Literature

Courtney Thorsson

Courtney Thorsson profile picture
Department Section Description: 

This course is a survey of writings by African American authors. We will study fiction, essays, and poetry in their historical, political, and literary contexts from the late 18th century to the present. We will investigate whether there are specific formal and thematic elements that define an African American literary tradition. We will study how these texts navigate ideas about race, gender, and class and how they both use and defy conventions of various genres, time periods, and literary styles on the other. We will work to understand the relationships among our reading and between our readings and other art forms such as music and visual arts. This means that as we read each text, we may also listen closely to a relevant speech, poetry reading, or piece of music. This class requires substantial reading and writing and vigorous participation.


This course satisfies two Core Education group requirements: Arts & Letters and US: Difference, Inequality, Agency.


The course counts as a lower-division elective for the English Minor and the English Major.



A & L

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.


US: Difference, Inequality, and Agency courses focus on race and ethnicity in the United States by considering two or more racial and ethnic groups.

Lower-Division Elective

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

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.