Black Lit Course Spring 2015

Topics: African American, Modern Language Association, Zora Neale Hurston Pages: 10 (3605 words) Published: April 7, 2015
Class Meeting Day and Time: Tuesdays, 6:30—9:15 pm; CPR 481 Professor: Dr. Gary L. Lemons Department: English
Office: Cooper Hall 331 Office Hours: T/TH 5:00—6:15 pm Ph. 813-974-2421 Email:
Required Course Texts—SEE NEW REVISED READING AND WRITING SCHEDULE 1. African American Literature Packet: Course AML 3604
(Purchase at Pro-Copy, 5219 East Fowler Ave., 988-5900, open 24hrs.—7 days) 2. Color Struck: A Play in Four Scenes by Zora Neale Hurston (copy given out in class) 3. The Ways of White Folks by Langston Hughes

4. Pocket Style Manual by Diana Hacker (USF Bookstore)
Course Concept
According to African American novelist John Edgar Wideman, who wrote the preface to Breaking Ice: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Fiction, “…African-American writers have a special, vexing [displeasurable, annoying, irksome, irritating, angry, aggravating exasperating] stake in reforming, revitalizing the American imagination…Good stories transport us to…extraordinarily diverse regions where individual lives are enacted” (v—vi). In Killing Rage: Ending Racism, bell hooks speaks pointedly to why African American writers have a “vexing stake in reforming, revitalizing the American imagination.” She says it has to do with the topic of “race talk” and issues of racism and gender. hooks asserts: When race and racism are the topic in public discourse the voices that speak are male. There is no large body of social and political critique by women of the topics of race and racism. When women write about race we usually situate our discussion within a framework where the focus is not centrally on race. We write and speak about race and gender, race and representation, etc. Cultural refusal to listen to and legitimate the power of women speaking about the politics of race and racism in America is a direct reflection of a long tradition of sexist and racist thinking which has always represented race and racism as male turf, as hard politics, a playing field where women do not really belong. Traditionally seen as a discourse between men just as feminism has been seen as the discourse of women, it presumes that there is only one gender when it come to blackness so black women’s voices do not count—how can they if our very existence is not acknowledged. (1) To aid us in our interpretive analyses, we will examine film representations (both documentary and those produced for the commercial market) of black identity. Through the mediums of literature and film, we will weave them together to create a multi-layered analytical framework for our discussion and critique of various representations of African American identity (particularly related to myths and stereotypes of black females and males). Our aim during the semester will be to foreground and to capture the complexities of black identity and culture beyond the stereotypical images popularized in pop culture and the prevailing myths associated with them. In this manner, our critical analyses and interpretations of the literature we read will bring us closer to the multi-dimensionality of black life (“the black experience”) and the cultural foundations of what it means to be “black” in the United States. We will, in John Edgar Wideman’s words, explore how black creative expression in literature “transport[s] us to…extraordinarily diverse regions where individual lives are enacted.” From this vantage point, through the eyes of bell hooks (as a black feminist professor, writer, and cultural critic), we will examine themes in African American literature that are universal, appealing to audiences across gender, racial, cultural, class, and ethnic boundaries. My hope is that these universal themes will challenge each of you as students of African American literature intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. In the introduction to Breaking Ice, well-known black female novelist, Terry McMillan writes...
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