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African American Literature and Language Cluster

From the narratives of slavery and emancipation to the exuberant expressions of the Harlem Renaissance, from the bold statements and innovations of the Black Arts Movement to recent experiments in African American fiction, poetry and drama, the literary works and language practices of African Americans form a rich, varied, and at times, contested tradition.  The courses in this cluster will allow students to consider the continuities and ruptures in African American literary and rhetorical traditions, while gaining a broad sense of the major themes, concerns, forms, and strategies that recur among African American literary and cultural texts.

English majors taking courses within the African American Literature and Language cluster will consider how African American authors have created literary works 1) to engage social issues--such as racial, gender, and class oppression; 2) to create aesthetic or formal innovations and revisions; 3) to preserve individual and/or group history; 4) to produce a “useable” past; and 5) to imagine an alternative value/belief/cultural system. African American authorship occupies a crucial space in contemporary political, cultural, and literary negotiations in US society, and students taking courses in this cluster will have the opportunity to engage important social issues, discover significant aesthetic and cultural traditions, and explore powerful works of art.

Possible courses for the African American Literature and Language cluster:

ENGL 235: African American Oral Folk Tradition

ENGL 431: Black American Writers

ENGL 461: The Vernacular Roots of African American Literature

ENGL 462: Reading Black, Reading Feminist

ENGL 463: African American Autobiography

ENGL 466: African American Novel I

ENGL 467: African American Novel II

ENGL 468: African American Poetry

ENGL 469: Slavery and the Literary Imagination

Other courses that could have an African American component, depending on how they are taught:

ENGL 297H: Rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement

ENGL 400: Authors, Texts, Contexts

ENGL 401: Studies in Genre

ENGL 402: Literature and Society

ENGL 403: Literature and Culture

ENGL 404 Mapping Identity, Difference and Place

ENGL 487W: Senior Seminar

If the description for a course in rhetoric or literature seems to focus on African American literature, speak to your advisor to see if it can count toward the cluster.