Spring 2021 Undergraduate English Courses

358:381 Sounds of Silence: Tracing the “Unspeakable” in Neo-Slave Narratives

02  09287   WILLIAMS, G.   MW 2:50-4:10

“Sounds of Silence” investigates how, why, and in what ways “unspeakable” (as Toni Morrison pens) instances of expressive human acts arise in works encompassing the African American literary genre of the neo-slave narrative. Taking into careful consideration canonical aspects of the neo-slave narrative’s development from the slave narrative genre, this course closely reads (and also closely listens to) a series of similar and dissimilar representations of understated brands of commentary & palimpsest visual sights that lie behind, beneath, and, sometimes, beyond surface illustrations of slave, ex-slave, and not-yet-free African American lives.  

During our course, we will explore a wealth of readings (from authors such as, for example, Frederick Douglass, Saidiya Hartman, Harriet Jacobs, Gayl Jones, Toni Morrison, and Hortense Spillers, Sherley Anne Williams) that locate units of analysis that aide our explorations of depictions of the silences, and also (at times) blinding spectacles of African descended peoples that (whether illustrated as living or dead) continue to speak of “unspeakable” themes indicative of the neo-slave narrative genre.

Assignments for this course will comprise 4 (2-3 page) Critical Response papers, a 7-10 page Midterm Paper, and an 8-12 page Final Research paper.