01 MW6 5:40-7:00PM CAC 08259 KERNAN SC-201
19th Century African American Literature and Its International Influences
In this class will examine canonical African American literary works in terms of their international inspirations and influences. The course aims to lay bare a genealogy that explores the extent to which African American poetry and prose have always constituted an international literature, even in their most nationalist incarnations. Exploring issues ranging from the impact of French Romanticism on African American literature’s inaugural moments to the Diasporic awareness that helped to fuel its early poetry, the course will address how international literary movements helped to shape some of the inaugural texts African American literary canon. In short, the course strays from critical narratives that stress the sui generis origins of nineteenth century African American literature in order to emphasize the heterogeneity of a canon whose roots lie both in evolving conceptions of African American artistic productions as well as in the alluvial soil of various international literary movements. This will entail an exciting journey that will expose us to the effects that: the Indian captivity narrative had on the slave narrative (and vice versa) throughout the Americans; that French Romantic theatre had on William Wells Brown and the birth of the African American theatrical tradition; that Victor Hugo’s poetry had on the first collection of African American poetry; and that Charlotte Brontë had on Pauline Hopkins' early articulations of postbellum African American womanhood. In addition to their engaged in-class participation, students will be required to complete regular reading quizzes and to write a final paper.