CAAS 274 - Introduction to Afro-American Literature
Section: 001 20th/21st-Century African American Literature
Term: FA 2008
Subject: Afroamerican and African Studies (CAAS)
Department: LSA Afroamerican and African Studies
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
CAAS 111.
Other Course Info:
(African-American Studies).
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

From W.E.B. DuBois, who claimed that "all Art is propaganda and ever must be," to Richard Wright, who viewed literature as a "weapon," to Toni Morrison, who experiments with "convert[ing] a racist house into a race-specific yet nonracist home," 20th-Century African American writers have approached the craft of writing from a wide variety of perspectives. In this survey of African American fiction published from 1901 to the present, we'll pay particular attention to the historical, political, legal, cultural, and theoretical contexts from which fictional texts have emerged and to which they have responded.

Questions such as the following will shape our inquiries:

  • In what ways do ideas about race, class, gender, sexuality, and nationality shape the content, form, and reception of various texts?
  • How do various texts participate in ongoing debates about the role of the writer and the relationship between art and politics?
  • In what ways are particular texts in conversation with earlier texts and with each other?
  • In what ways do various texts challenge readers to develop more complex understandings of categories such as "African American," "American," "Blackness," "authenticity," "identity," and "culture"?

Our weekly readings will focus on fiction by some of the following authors: Charles W. Chesnutt, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Baldwin, Percival Everett, Nikki Turner, and Toni Morrison.

Course requirements include brief weekly writing assignments, three critical analysis essays, a group presentation, and active participation in class discussions.

CAAS 274 - Introduction to Afro-American Literature
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
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