Course Descriptions

ENG 3332

African American Literature

Jennifer McFarlane-Harris

MWF 9:00–10:20 a.m. 

What happens when racial unrest erupts into protest, burning, looting, vandalism, or physical violence? 

The United States has a long history of “race riots”: slave rebellions, mob lynchings, attacks against Black-owned businesses to stifle economic competition, destruction of property and neighborhoods following incidents of police brutality, and even the recent insurrection at the Capitol. In this online course, we will read a range of African American literature that addresses racial injustice and riotous revolution from the 19th century to the present: Nat Turner’s Confessions (in 1831 he led an uprising of enslaved people in Southampton, Virginia) and selections from David Walker’s fiery Appeal…to the Coloured Citizens of the World (1830); Charles W. Chesnutt’s 1901 novel The Marrow of Tradition (based on the 1898 race riot in Wilmington, North Carolina); journalist and anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s pamphlets Southern Horrors (1892) and A Red Record (1895); Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece’s 2008 graphic novel Incognegro (based on the real-life Walter White, an NAACP leader who risked his life to investigate lynching in the South); and Anna Deavere Smith’s ethnodrama based on the riots/uprising following the Rodney King verdict, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. We will also examine a variety of contemporary criticism and films/videos related to the primary texts at hand in order to grasp the historical, political, and cultural contexts of these works (race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic class, citizenship, religion, etc.). At the end of the course, you will have the opportunity to investigate recent events and movements (Ferguson, Baltimore, Black Lives Matter, Say Her Name, etc.) and compare them with literature from earlier in the quarter.  


Writing on the window of an English classroom

How to Read a Poem

English Professor Susan Van Zanten gives you a quick guide on how to get the most out of reading poetry.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
Jane Austen
Pride & Prejudice