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Course Details

Spring 2016-2017
AAS 392 / ENG 392 (LA)   Graded A-F, P/D/F, Audit

Topics in African American Literature - Fictions of Black Urban Life

Nijah Cunningham

This course considers the transformation of urban life in the 20th and 21st centuries through an exploration of selected works by African American and African diasporic writers, artists, and intellectuals. We will discuss sociological studies, novels, poems, music, and experimental works that interrogate fictions such as urban development, revitalization, and even gentrification. Here, "fiction" names the implicit narratives and imaginaries of the urban that animate both its policy and design. Ultimately, the course is concerned with the discourses of black pathology and hidden forms of social life that have shaped the contemporary city.

Sample reading list:
Richard Wright, 12 Million Black Voices
Gwendolyn Brooks, A Street in Bronzeville
Paule Marshall, Brown Girl, Brownstones
Samuel R. Delany, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue
John Edgar Wideman, Philadelphia Fire
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones

Reading/Writing assignments:
Weekly Reading Responses (10%): A brief yet substantive response (~500 words; 10 in total) to each week's assigned readings. Student-led discussions (15%): Each week, students will give presentations to frame class. Midterm Exam (25%): A take-home assignment that will consist of four to five short answer essays. Final Paper (30%): An eight to ten-page paper that critically engages at least one of the literary works on the syllabus and addresses the course's larger themes.

Paper in Lieu of Mid Term - 25%
Paper in lieu of Final - 30%
Papers - 10%
Oral Presentation(s) - 15%
Class/Precept Participation - 20%

Other Requirements:
Not Open to Freshmen.


Schedule/Classroom assignment:

Class numberSectionTimeDaysRoomEnrollmentStatus
42144 S01 01:30:00 pm - 04:20:00 pm Th   Stanhope Hall   201   Enrolled:12 Limit:15