H1 7/11-8/17 MTWTH 10:15 AM- 12:05 CAC 04740 EVERETT SC-116
African American Literature from Emancipation to Jim Crow
"Among the revolutionary processes that transformed the nineteenth-century world, none was so dramatic in its human consequences or so far-reaching in its social implications as chattel slavery,” writes historian Eric Foner. Nowhere was this revolutionary process more dramatic than in the United States where ex-slaves were granted citizenship rights and political representation directly on the heels of emancipation. But the promises enacted during Reconstruction were soon denied, and by the 1870s race relations in the South, and throughout the nation, were marked by lynching, massacres, and state sanctioned inequality. Yet African Americans were nevertheless “free.”
This class will therefore investigate how freedom works as a narrative problem and frame in African American literature from Emancipation, through Reconstruction, to the early years of Jim Crow. How and why did authors adopt, adapt, and circumvent conventional literary forms? In what ways did these forms offer African American readers models of ideal citizenship or resistance? What happened when African American literary production too openly challenged dominant white systems of belief? To address these questions, we will turn to the writings of Frederick Douglass, Frances Harper, Charles Chesnutt, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Pauline Hopkins, and James Weldon Johnson.