ENGL 2074 - Black US Writing: Writing Through the Colour Line

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2021

Ever since North American settlers started enslaving Africans to work their plantations, Black Americans have been leaving literary traces of their struggles behind. In this course we will be asking what it means for a literary heritage to have formed around a people whose ancestors were prohibited from learning the alphabet, and how this extraordinary tradition has managed to say (with Langston Hughes), ?America never was America to me.? By probing the most powerful lines of division and exclusion in the USA, Black writing has consistently shown that the `world?s greatest democracy? is undone from within by contradictions that white writers could never hope to capture. Can a minority speak the deepest truths of a national formation? This course answers, yes. It will ground students morally, politically and historically in the shaping forces behind a body of work that stands tall alongside the greatest world literatures. It will also help to explain the defining aesthetic qualities of this tradition, and shed light on `minority literatures? more generally.

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