English 180F
Major African-American Authors

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
Major African American Authors focuses on fictional works by some of the writers who receive less attention but whose contributions are equally crucial to understanding the development of the African American literary tradition in the past four or five decades. Students encountering African American writing in the twentieth century usually use Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and a few other fairly well known writers and works as "points of entry." We will go beyond this narrow focus to examine some of the less frequently discussed works by writers whose works have recieved scholarly treatment.

  • Gwendolyn Brooks, Maud Martha
  • Toni Cade Bambara, The Salt Eaters
  • Ernest Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying
  • Paule Marshall, Praisesong for the Widow
  • Gloria Naylor, The Women of Brewster Place
  • Dorothy West, The Living Is Easy

Course Expectations
This course is structured as a seminar, thus discussion will be the primary mode of conveying information and exchanging ideas. Although I will serve as key resource for each writer and lead the discussion on Ernest Gaines, I will assign you in teams of three to lead a 2-period seminar discussion session on a writer who will be choses by lottery. In your role as discussion leaders, you can share content from secondary sources, use audio/video resources, formulate questions, and do whatever else you deem appropriate to guide the class during your seminar sessions. Any handouts you wish to be copied should be given to me 2-3 days prior to your session.
Each of the following activities will count as one third of your course grade:
  • Seminar Presentation
  • Midterm and Quizzes
  • Analytical Paper
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.