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ENGL/AFST 2644: Intro to African-American Literature

This course offers an introduction to the principal themes, genres, and historical contexts of African-American literature. Students will explore elements of the vernacular and written traditions, the impact of historical and social contexts, and the ethical questions raised within the literature. Topics include: the vernacular tradition, the slave narrative, the Harlem Renaissance, the protest novel, and modern and contemporary fiction.

Why take it?

As our culture continues to grapple with our history of racial injustice, and the legacies that persist as a result of that history, this course offers critical context to discussions of oppression and justice. Students seeking to understand the causes and aims of the Black Lives Matter protests, as well as those wishing to gain a deeper appreciation for Black art and literature, will benefit greatly from this course.

Students will engage with the concepts of race and gender oppression, as well as justice and injustice. The physical, emotional, and psychological violence experienced by African Americans, and their description of it in their artistic works, will enable students to discuss issues of direct relevance to modern society and their own lives. Furthermore, understanding the history and contributions of African Americans, through the analysis of African-American literature, will prepare students to appreciate and positively navigate an increasingly diverse workforce.


Prerequisite: ENGL 1106 or COMM 1016.

This course fulfills Pathways requirements in Critical Thinking in the Humanities, Critical Analysis of Identity and Equity in the United States, and Ethical Reasoning.