Fall 2020 Undergraduate English Courses

358:218 Black Literature 1930 to the Present

01  CAC  05661  MW4  MATHES  HH-A5

Supernaturalism, Mystery, the Gothic

This course examines African American novels that incorporate mysterious questions, supernatural presences, and haunting atmospheres into their narrative frameworks. Telling stories that can’t be deciphered solely through rational comprehension reflects a tradition within African American expressive culture of questioning the ideas of empiricism and rationality that have intellectually supported racist practices from slavery through the present. In our course, which focuses on the mid to late 20th century, we will analyze how these inclinations towards the otherworldly and inexplicable are projected through particular literary styles such as naturalism, modernism, magical realism, and postmodernism. We will primarily read novels with mythic and epic sweeps through which the authors represent “higher powers” and ideas of life that exceed and fantastically reframe the everyday structural realities of black experience.

Books may include:

Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison)

Kindred (Octavia Butler)

The Chaneysville Incident (David Bradley)

Beloved (Toni Morrison)

Linden Hills (Gloria Naylor)

The Cattle Killing (John Edgar Wideman)


Bi-weekly response papers

Class participation

Reading quizzes

two 5-7 page essays

take-home final