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Afro-American Literature I

CWL 259

Same as AFRO 259 and ENGL 259. See ENGL 259.

Broadly speaking, this course will introduce you to the study of African American Literature. Our goal over the semester will be to draw a provisional map of African American literary production from the end of the eighteenth century to the dawn of the twentieth, from the Age of Revolutions to the World War I. Our storytelling will be guided by four principle frameworks: literary form and genre, intellectual and political history, community formation, and the relation between African American and other literary cultures and traditions. We will read letters, poems, sermons, songs, novels, stories, and texts that defy easy categorization. Throughout our discussions we will think about what’s “African American” about African American literature. Is it a set of political and social circumstances, the writer’s racial identity (self-identified or otherwise), a set of tropes or a style, an attitude and critical orientation, none of the above, all of the above? We’ll also think about this archive as doing a particular kind of work in the world that continues and resonates to this day. Writers for consideration include: Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Frances E.W. Harper, and W.E.B. Du Bois.