Survey of African American Literature to 1900


Michelle Gordon, Department of African American Studies, with Jim Alexander, documentary photographer

About the Course

AAS 261/ENG 261: Survey of African American Literature to 1900

This course provides a survey of African American literature and print culture from the Revolutionary Era up through the turn of the twentieth century, sampling major authors, genres, motifs, and critical issues that have been central to shaping the African American literary tradition and its study. As students read across a variety of genres—including poetry, slave narratives, the short story, political writing, history, and speeches—they work with and against dominant narratives and perceptions about African American literary history.

Major areas of focus include: the processes of making literary history, the complex relationships between slavery and freedom in African American experience and expression, the relations between African American literature and the Black Vernacular (or Oral) Tradition, the radicalized and gendered politics of publishing and representation, the relationship between black American literature and broader “Western” culture and thought, and the transnational currents of African American writing, history, migration, and protest.