ENGLISH 317 - Literature and Culture
Winter 2020, Section 003 - African American Literary Modernism
Instruction Mode: Section 003 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 be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:


The model of the mind we most often study in modernist literary history develops out of the work of authors like Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and Dorothy Richardson. Their preoccupation with the unconscious and the experience of perception, cognition, and reality has been central to how we understand the innovations of one of the most dynamic periods in literature (roughly 1900 to 1945). This time period, though, is also the heyday of the eugenics movement; a transatlantic moment in which intelligence testing emerges as a means for further marginalizing (and racializing) immigrants and people of color. In this course, we will explore how this context creates a political landscape in which having a mind of one’s own is imperative for people of color, and we will read literary texts that negotiate, resist, and reshape modern conceptualizations of marginalized minds.

The two goals for this class are to introduce you to pivotal figures in modernist literary history and to give you a sense of how our authors used narrative experimentation to engage with and negotiate emergent ideas about citizenship, modernity, and the mind. In pursuing these two goals, we will spend our time reading primary texts, but we will also engage with the print and media culture of that historical moment – looking at magazines, newspapers, journals, and films that can help to deepen our understanding of what it felt like to be writing at the beginning of the twentieth century. Along the way we will explore how these authors write about race and racial difference, how they position themselves as a part of a modern or modernist literary moment, and how they imagine their literary texts as acts of resistance or political import.

Authors might include James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Zitkála Šá, Edith Eaton, María Cristina Mena, Américo Paredes, Younghill Kang, and John Joseph Mathews.

Course Requirements:

Course requirements will likely include active participation, occasional quizzes, and a final research project.


ENGLISH 317 - Literature and Culture
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
002 (LEC)
 In Person
M 6:00PM - 9:00PM
003 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
004 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM

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 317.003

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 317 (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)