In this course we will read literatures of African diaspora from the United States and from the English-speaking African Diaspora more broadly speaking, written in the early to mid- 20th century. This course is deliberately using the adjective Black instead of African American to highlight our awareness that the literature of the early 20th century is part of a Pan-African movement. Threads we will follow include: issues of identity (being American; being Black; racial and social passing); miscegenation; claims to culture through literature; political and social change through literature (is it possible?); self-representation and activism through literary arts; rise of pride in being part of African diaspora; gender roles in literary and social contexts. Questions we will raise and explore in the course of the term include: What is the relationship between aesthetic production and political action? What are the gendered aspects of the expressions of the writers and artists? How are folk forms incorporated into literary forms? How does self-representation operate in the reclamation of a sense of self? We will engage with the complexities of cultural diversities within the African diaspora while we contemplate the traditions we follow. We will begin, as the title of the course suggests, around the turn of the 20th century, when Du Bois writes that the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line (Souls of Black Folk 45). We will move through whatsome called the Harlem Renaissance, during which time writers such as Langston Hughes celebrated being Black in a reclamation of the self: Dark like me-That is my dream! (Selected Poems 14). We will explore the literature of the pre- and post- WWII era, ending the term with what was known as the Black Arts Movement. The goal, in terms of content, is to provide you with a broad sampling of literature of the African Diaspora literature of the early 20th century, with a particular focus on literature (prose in the form of essays, short stories, novels; poetry; plays) generated from the United States while also reaching toward its more global pan-Africanist roots. I hope you will follow your interests and curiosities, after the course is over, to explore this literature further. (Also counts for Africana and American Studies).
Location & Meeting Time
T/TH 01:55PM-03:40PM LEC