"African American Literature has been enjoying a renaissance in quality
and quantity for the past decade or so, even vaster than the New Negro,
or Harlem Renaissance of the 1920's, spurred on to a significant extent
since 1970 by the writings of African American women such as Morrison,
Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Rita Dove, Gloria Naylor, Jamaica Kincaid,
and Terry McMillan."
-Preface, The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, xxxiii.
Black American Fiction focuses on the reading and discussion of fictional works
by black writers that have been overshadowed to a large extent by concentrated focus on a small
number of writers within a very large group. Specifically, we will examine selected works by
writers who have achieved visibility and commercial success in popular genres enjoyed by the
general reading public. We will explore the unique visions of the human condition presented
in a diversely rich selection of historical romance, avante garde comedy and satire, fantasy
and science fiction, modern romance, detective stories, and mysteries.
- Octavia Butler, Kindred
- Chester Himes, Cotton Comes to Harlem
- Terry McMillan, Waiting to Exhale
- Walter Mosely, Devil in a Blue Dress
- Ishmael Reed, Japanese by Spring
- (selected short stories)
Course presentation will consist of lecture, but informed discussion will be the primary mode of conveying
information and exchanging ideas. We will also make use of collaborative group activities, films, and
whatever else will keep the course lively and informative.
Each of the following activities will count as one fifth of your course grade:
More than three absences will affect your course grade. Any absence exceeding this number will lower
your grade by one half grade and will continue lowering the grade with every subsequent absence.
- Three essays (3-4 pages)
- One midterm
- Several in-class response papers