Examines the origins and development of African American literature and culture in relevant intellectual, social, and historical contexts.
The Black Fantastic
In 2020, against the backdrop of a pandemic, wildfires, anti-Black violence, a global wave of protests and social unrest, and political upheaval, Octavia Butler’s 1993 Afrofuturist novel, Parable of the Sower, reached the New York Times bestseller list for the first time. Why this renewed interest in Butler’s work? How does speculative fiction help us understand contemporary culture and politics?
This is a class on the fantastical and speculative. We will study Afrofuturist and speculative fiction writers like Octavia Butler, Victor Lavalle, and N. K. Jemisin, as well as film, TV, music, comics, and visual art. In the 1990s, Alondra Nelson argued that Afrofuturism “is a critical perspective that opens up inquiry into the many overlaps between technoculture and black diasporic histories.” Afrofuturism combines elements of African mythology and spirituality, science fiction, African Diaspora history, and magical realism in order to imagine alternative pasts and futures and help us re-see the present. How do these art forms provide different approaches to and images of time, knowledge, culture, technology, the nation-state, and the human? How does the Black fantastic illuminate new aesthetic and political horizons?
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.
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.