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Instructor Class Description

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Sonnet H. Retman
AFRAM 358
Seattle Campus

Literature of Black Americans

Selected writings, novels, short stories, plays, poems by Afro-American writers. Study of the historical and cultural context within which they evolved. Differences between Afro-American writers and writers of the European-American tradition. Emphasis varies. Offered: jointly with ENGL 358.

Class description

This course traces an evolving African American literary tradition by focusing on the work of some its most innovative contemporary practitioners. By situating the work of contemporary African American writers and artists within a variety of theoretical, cultural and political contexts, we will construct a larger, on-going conversation about the parameters of African American literature. We will focus on the conjoined aesthetic and political dimensions of these texts, taking into account the relationship between form and content. We will consider the ways these texts open up new avenues for envisioning black identity as it intersects with gender, sexuality, class and nation; new conceptions of community; and new ways of narrating individual and collective histories. Possible texts include Winston Napier’s African American Literary Theory: A Reader; Toni Morrison’s A Mercy; Andrea Lee’s Sarah Phillips; Junot Diaz’s Drown; Stew’s “Passing Strange”; Dinaw Mengestu The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears; and Paul Beatty’s The White Boy Shuffle.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Sonnet H. Retman
Date: 03/11/2010