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CCOG for ENG 258 Summer 2022

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Course Number:
ENG 258
Course Title:
African-American Literature
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Introduces the literature of Americans whose roots are in Africa. Emphasizes the way contemporary political and social aspirations of African Americans are reflected in the literature of the periods from the Harlem Renaissance through the present. Prerequisites: WR 115 and RD 115 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

Surveys the creative literature of black writers in the United States with special attention given to the social and symbolic environments from which they emerged, protest against racist violence, socioeconomic mobility, and creation of a modern day Black aesthetic.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Students should be able to:
1. Analyze AfricanAmerican literature from the Harlem Renaissance to the present to identify themes about race, ethnicity, and culture and recognize the contribution of AfricanAmerican writers to recreate cultural identity.
2. Examine the intersection of economics, history, culture, politics, religion, and gender to AfricanAmerican literature.
3. Perform textual analysis by using literary terminology and theory to examine relationships between literary forms and themes.
4. Identify the relationship between AfricanAmerican literary forms and Black vernacular (gospel, blues, jazz, sermons, stories, and the oral tradition).
5. Write coherent academic essays that explore the complexity of the literature.

Integrative Learning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to reflect on one’s work or competencies to make connections between course content and lived experience.

Aspirational Goals

Relate the writings of the African-Americans from the time of slavery through the Harlem Renaissance to contemporary African American writing.

Identify the shared experiences in the writing of the time period to the contemporary Black experience.

Investigate the institutional and cultural forces that seek to erase African-American Literature.

Course Activities and Design

Students read, discuss, write and perform research on related topics and events presented in the literature. Class activities may include instructor lecture, whole class discussion, small group work, student presentations and guest lectures.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

1. Recognize the importance of self-documentation as a means to claim the African American identify.

2. Examine the intersection of economics, history, culture, region, politics, religion, gender, and sexuality to African American literature.

3. Understand the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to the contemporary African American experience.

4. Identify the relationship between African American literary forms and Black vernacular.

5. Discuss the resistance to the white gaze upon African American literature and the Black body.

Students will complete a term project, typically a research paper of 1500-2000 words in length, pertinent to the literature of the period.  Instructors may also permit alternatives to the traditional research paper.  Such alternatives include the following possibilities: scrapbook/family history projects; websites; PowerPoint presentations; multimedia presentations; portfolios of creative writing or visual art forms; dance, theatrical or spoken word performances.  Instructors who permit such alternatives will ensure that students also write substantive analytical pieces in the form of journal, examination, or other appropriate format.  Additionally, instructors may use a variety of other assessment tools such as quizzes, participation, etc.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Some of the central concepts of the course include:

Transformation of African American writing as a body of literature, its history, and the major and minor figures after the Harlem Renaissance to the present.

Self documentation and fictional self documentation as self actualization, a form of resistance against Eurocentric ideas of Blackness, and its importance to the preservation of Black culture.

The slave narrative, the neo slave narrative, and its relationship to contemporary African American biography.

The importance of the writers directly following the Harlem Renaissance to the Black Arts Movement (1940s-1960s) and their influence on later writers.

The creation of Black Arts Movement, its importance as the artistic arm of the Civil Rights Movement, its founders, major practitioners, tenants, and criticisms.

Womanist writers and its formation as a counterpoint to the racism of the Women’s Liberation Movement in North America.

The relationship between Protorap, Hip-Hop, and Contemporary Spoken Word, and the origin of contemporary Spoken Word roots in comedy and community engagement.

The emergence of contemporary Afrofuturism and Black Speculative Writing.

Suggested Writers:

James Baldwin

Gwendolyn Brooks

Ralph Ellison

Lorraine Hansberry

Richard Wright

Ann Petry

Melvin B. Tolson

Margaret Walker

Maya Angelou

Amiri Baraka

Mari Evans

Eldridge Cleaver

Ethridge Knight

Audre Lorde

Haki Madhubuti

Ishmael Reed

Larry Neal

Maya Angelou

Toni Cade Bambara

Lucille Cliffton

Nikki Giovanni

Michael S. Harper

June Jordan

Toni Morrison

Sonja Sanchez

Elizabeth Alexander

Octavia Butler

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Rita Dove

Jericho Brown

NK Jemison

Essex Hemphill

Yusef Komunyakka

Harryette Mullen

Gloria Naylor

Claudia Rankine

Sonia Sanchez

Patricia Smith

Danez Smith

Tracy K. Smith

Natasha Trethewey

Colson Whitehead

August Wilson

Kevin Young