English 180A
Black American Fiction

English 116B
English 180A
English 180B
English 180F
Semester at Sea
About Me
"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.
Course Description
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 Expectations
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:
  • Three essays (3-4 pages)
  • One midterm
  • Several in-class response papers
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.