RCHUMS 334 - Special Topics in the Humanities
Section: 001 "Unlikely Heroes": African American Protest Literature and the Crisis of Social Realism
Term: WN 2008
Subject: RC Humanities (RCHUMS)
Department: LSA Residential College
Requirements & Distribution:
May be elected twice for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

“Heroes” focuses on a unique period during the middle of the twentieth century when an intellectual crisis struck African American artistic communities. While some authors regarded fiction as a sacred space for resurrecting folk tales and spinning yarns about social relationships, the majority of Black writers were using art as a “weapon.” These protest novelists concerned themselves with social justice issues and asserting fiction as a mechanism for political change. To this day this argument remains a central one for Black authors — whether art can be used as propaganda or if it should merely inhabit the domain of aesthetics.

In “Heroes” we will read novels, essays, book reviews and short stories from such renowned authors as: Richard Wright, Ann Petry, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Chester Himes. As we investigate their work we will also ponder the larger questions which polarized these communities:

  • What exactly is art?
  • Is African American art “different”?
  • And what is the responsibility of the African American author to her/his readership?

“Unlikely Heroes”: African American Protest Literature and the Crisis of Social Realism is a course that will help us to better understand the social and cultural climate of the 1940's & 1950's. More importantly, this course will challenge some of the fundamental assumptions that we all hold regarding African American literature.

RCHUMS 334 - Special Topics in the Humanities
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
002 (SEM)
MW 3:00PM - 5:00PM
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