Undergraduate English Courses

358:381 Defining the African Diaspora







This course will examine literature written by and about people across the black world to ask questions pertaining to the nature of the African diaspora: What is the value of the term "African diaspora"? What is the nature of black belonging, and how did it emerge? What are the processes by which racial consciousness is formed? What factors complicate the sense of connection across time and space? To this end, we will consider literary works, intellectual figures, their social contexts, and their role in the formation of collective diasporic identity in the twentieth century.

Some of the primary texts—a mix of essays, speeches, poetry, and fiction—included in this course are pivotal documents that have helped shape our contemporary understandings of black identity. We will cover texts by W.E.B. Du Bois, Aimé Césaire, Paule Marshall, Steve Biko, Toni Cade Bambara, Caryl Phillips, and Saidiya Hartman, among others. We will also familiarize ourselves with cultural and political movements emerging out of the black world: Ethiopianism, Pan-Africanism, Negritude, Black Nationalism, Black Power, Black Consciousness, and other forms of black internationalism.

Evaluations will be based upon strong attendance and class participation, regular short writing assignments, one mid-term exam, and two formal essays (mid-term and final research pap