ENGLISH 335 - Autobiography
Fall 2021, Section 001 - Contemporary Narratives-Slavery
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Since the 1970s, historical fiction about slavery has become a popular and acclaimed sub-genre of African American literature. In this course, we will explore how and why black writers have returned to the topic of slavery with remarkable frequency and depth, over a century after abolition. Our organizing questions will include the following: How do contemporary novels and poems about the slave past reflect and address our racial present? What is the relationship of historical fiction to history proper, and to the scholarly study of history? How is the literature of historical trauma tied up with questions of moral responsibility, past and present?

Primary texts will include two nineteenth-century slave narratives (by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs) and five or six “contemporary narratives of slavery” – late 20th and 21st-century works of literature that explicitly invoke the historical form of the antebellum slave autobiography. Assigned titles will probably include Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, among others. We will also draw on selected works of literary history and literary criticism. Students who buy all of the required books new can expect to spend about $75; buying used will bring costs down considerably.

Course Requirements:

Course requirements will likely include up to 200 pages of reading per week; attendance and active participation; several short, skill-building homework assignments (on the summary, close reading, etc.); a midterm exam; and a 5-7 page final essay.


ENGLISH 335 - Autobiography
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM

Textbooks/Other Materials

The partner U-M / Barnes & Noble Education textbook website is the official way for U-M students to view their upcoming textbook or course material needs, whether they choose to buy from Barnes & Noble Education or not. Students also can view a customized list of their specific textbook needs by clicking a "View/Buy Textbooks" link in their course schedule in Wolverine Access.

Click the button below to view and buy textbooks for ENGLISH 335.001

View/Buy Textbooks


Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for ENGLISH 335 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi

CourseProfile (Atlas)

The Atlas system, developed by the Center for Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (Atlas)