African American Autobiography (3) The African American literary quest for identity and its adaptation to Euro-American culture and autobiographies.
ENGL 463 African American Autobiography (3)
(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.
Starting with the slave narratives which initiate the literary quest of African Americans for identity, this upper-division course will examine the trope of writing (the "talking" book) as the (w)rite of passage into the dominant Euro-American culture. The course will identify, describe, and analyze how the major elements of the "quest" found in the slave autobiographies have been adapted as textual strategies by many contemporary African American writers of autobiography, semi-autobiography, and fictional autobiography. Authors under consideration will vary from class to class, but may include writers such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Alex Haley, Harriet E. Wilson, James Weldon Johnson, and Ernest Gaines. Topics explored will vary from class to class, but will likely consider slave narratives, the role of autobiography in the fashioning of identity and self, gender issues, genre questions, and the historical development of the genre and its shifting preoccupation from slave times through the early twentieth-century, the pre-Civil Rights era, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, and the present. The course will prepare students for other courses that engage in the verbal and written analysis of complex written texts, and will also prepare students to consider the social and cultural issues involved in the role of race in American history. Students will be evaluated by means of essays written out of class, essay and short answer exams, a term-long reading journal reflecting upon issues of the student's own "autobiography," an oral class presentation, and class participation. The course may be used as English Major elective credit or as credit towards the English Minor and will be offered once a year, with 40 seats per offering.
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.