Time, Memory, and Identity
This class investigates how black women writers of the twentieth century have taken up the themes of time, memory, and identity. The writers we will explore—Frances E. W. Harper, Zora Neale Hurston, Gwendolyn Brooks, Audre Lorde, Ntzoake Shange, Lucille Clifton, and Octavia E. Butler—conceived of literature as remembering. Poems and stories were not just artworks but places in which to recover silenced voices and reflect on the intractable legacies of patriarchy and racism. As Shange so succinctly puts it in Sassafrass, Cypress, & Indigo, literature could be made to represent “the slaves who were ourselves.” Using the short fiction, poetry, and critical work of the writers noted above, we will examine how black women writers adapted literary forms to wrestle with—and perhaps move beyond—the legacies of racial and gender-based oppression.
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.
Literature, 1789 to the present courses focus on literary work produced over more than two centuries -- from the period of British romanticism and the early republic of the United States up to now -- in order to foster familiarity with key works in British and American literary history. Literary history illustrates how literary works reflect, address, and resist the social and political environments in which they are produced as well as other works that have preceded them.
Empire, Race, and/or Ethnicity courses focus on ways that race matters in literature, media, and culture. Recent courses have examined such matters as native American literature and film; nineteenth-century writings by slavers and enslaved people in the U.S. and British colonies; fiction and filmmaking in post-apartheid South Africa; Latinx science fiction and environmental justice, and the novels of Toni Morrison.
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.