Faculty Course Description
ENG339: African American Literature
Dr. Christina Bucher
Office: Evans 225A
Office phone: 233-4076
Course description and purpose
This course will engage you in the study of key texts and writers within the African American literary tradition from the late 18th century to the present. While the course will be structured chronologically and we will spend substantial time placing the works in their sociohistorical contexts, we will be equally concerned with examining the aesthetics of African American literature. The centrality of vernacular language, folklore, and oral traditions; of W.E.B. DuBois’s delineation of the “double consciousness” black Americans possess and which often manifests itself as literary “masking”; and of the continuous “signifying” scholar Henry Louis Gates suggests African American texts offer on earlier texts -- by both black and white writers -- will be some of the aesthetic issues we will explore. We’ll also strive to give the course an interdisciplinary flavor by incorporating the visual arts, music, film, history, politics, and sociology whenever we can.
1) To familiarize you with key works of fiction, poetry, and drama within the African American literary tradition.
2) To introduce you to key concepts within the theoretical study of African American literature.
3) To continue developing your critical acumen
4) To stimulate thought and reflection about current issues of race and race relations.
You’ll show that you’ve met the stated goals by demonstrating an acceptable level of competency and knowledge on daily short writing assignments, a series of mid-length writing assignments, peer reviews, and an oral presentation.
Method of instruction
This is a lecture and discussion class, though the emphasis is solidly on the latter. I thrive -- and I suspect most of you do too -- in a class in which instructor and students learn from each other by engaging in a lively exchange of ideas. While I will occasionally talk “at” you, I will also ask you to bear a good bit of responsibility for your own learning through participation.