In this course, we will study African American novels and short stories of the past forty years in their historical, political, and literary contexts. As we read these works and relevant scholarly texts, we will consider questions of periodization, genre, and literary tradition. We will observe and analyze the function of genres such as satire, contemporary narratives of slavery, science fiction, realism, and horror in our readings. We will work to identify the ways that African American literature of the post-Civil Rights Era both engages and departs from the formal strategies and thematic concerns that define earlier periods of African American literature. Authors whose works we may read include Octavia Butler, David Bradley, Toni Morrison, Mat Johnson, Colson Whitehead, Danzy Senna, and Nafissa Thompson-Spires.
This course requires substantial reading and writing and vigorous participation. The goal of this course is to help you engage with African American literature, improving your writing, reading, and critical thinking skills in the process.