Feb 07, 2023  
2022-2023 Academic Catalog 
2022-2023 Academic Catalog

ENG 229-01 - The Tradition of African American Literature

4 credits (Spring)
“Slavery and its Afterlives.” In her book Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (2007), Saidiya Hartman introduces the idea of slavery and its afterlives:  If slavery persists as an issue in the political life of black America, it is not because of an antiquarian obsession with bygone days or the burden of a too-long memory, but because black lives are still imperiled and devalued by a racial calculus and a political arithmetic that were entrenched centuries ago. This is the afterlife of slavery–skewed life chances, limited access to health and education, premature death, incarceration, and impoverishment (6). It is these afterlives upon which we will focus in the course: The United States’ persistent clinging to inequality and the African American literary response. In African American literature, the contexts inform the texts. We’ll study this relationship throughout the course. In the wake of a burgeoning output of books, TV shows and films about slavery, we’ll ask why it seems that America is more obsessed with depictions of enslavement now than ever before. Along the way, we’ll scrutinize social media campaigns such as #NotAnotherSlaveMovie, analyze essays from Toni Morrison, Christina Sharpe, and more, and read texts from The Norton Anthology of African American literature in order to gain insight regarding genre, canon and culture that will carry us through the course. In all readings we will discuss the ways in which African/Negro/Black/African American writers use the written word as activism in the fight for full enfranchisement. 

Prerequisite: ENG 120  or ENG 121  for majors; for non-majors, ENG 120  or ENG 121  or third-year standing.
Instructor: Lavan