Welcome to the Department of English at Rutgers University

African-American, Ethnic American or Global Anglophone

01   MW5   CAC   19972   ROBOLIN   MU-115

Over the last 15 years, African authors have made inroads in international publishing. While earlier generations of writers attracted deeply committed readers, the most contemporary African literature has enjoyed a widening and enthusiastic reception. This new writing—penned by well-established icons of African letters as well as a new generation of authors—examines a whole range of issues, but it is particularly marked by a growing attention to what 21st-century globalization means for the African places and people (as distinct from 19th-century and 20th-century globalization), both on the continent and far beyond it. In light of the dynamic contemporary moment, African writers wrestle with fresh challenges tied to long-standing problems born of the colonial and immediate post-independence eras. In so doing, they are prompted to revisit the past in order to both rewrite old narratives and script news ones.

This seminar will examine 21st-century African literature in a variety of forms that reflect some its generic, formal, language, and geographic diversity. The works include novels, short stories, poetry, drama, and memoirs in both conventional and experimental forms. These are predominantly texts written in English, but we will take up several translated francophone and lusophone texts, as well, that focus on different areas of sub-Saharan Africa (and the world). They will take up a panoply of subjects and approaches, but we will largely concentrate on principle questions that revolve around memory and movement: First, how do contemporary Africa writers reckon with questions of the colonial and post-colonial past that bear so significantly on the our present twenty-first century moment? And second, how do writers reflect upon the meaning of migrations across wide swaths of space and time? How, if at all, does this movement shape the subject and circulation of the texts themselves? Answers will be found by working through the primary texts, but we will incorporate secondary literature (literary criticism and theory) as needed. Our primary texts will likely come from some of the following authors: Chris Abani, Chimamanda Adichie, José Eduardo Agualusa, Gabeba Baderoon, NoViolet Bulawayo, Teju Cole, Nadia Davids, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Njabulo Ndebele, Véronique Tadjo, Ivan Vladislavić, Binyavanga Wainaina, and Zoë Wicomb.

Evaluations will be based on strong attendance and participation, pop quizzes, blog posts, one mid-term and one final research essay.

01  T3      LIV    19871    SEN   RC-1
      TH3                                  RC-2
      T 7,8    FILM SCREENING   TIL-252

This course same as 195:321:01

This course will explore dominant cinematic traditions of the world since the 1950s. In addition to studying the social and cultural contexts within which cinematic texts generate meaning, we will also engage with transnational dialogue between film cultures and movements. We will consider the validity of a number of concepts such as counter cinema, first, second and third cinema, and third-world cinema, focusing in particular on the interplay between local traditions and transnational industrial and artistic practices.

01   MTH1   CAC   17685    STEPHENS   MU-111

Race, Place & Space

This course focuses on African American writers of the nineteenth century, members of the multifaceted diaspora communities created by the Atlantic slave trade between Africa, the Americas, and Europe from the fifteenth century on. Four centuries later, these writers? lives and tales were still being shaped by the conditions of slavery and traumatic dislocation their ancestors found upon arriving in the New World. We trace the development in the nineteenth century of tropes of freedom, faith, movement and exile that black writers used in constructing a sense of racial community. How did black writers experience and define the various homes and places they traveled through and settled in? How did their vision of Atlantic-American space shift over time, based on each particular writer?s physical and psychological circumstances? How did black male writers of the period tell a story of the race and how did women writers locate themselves within these histories and narratives? How did race, place and space shape their narratives of identity? Authors include: Equiano, Northup, Jacobs, Wells Brown, Crafts, Hopkins.

01  MW8  CAC  17686  MILTON  MU-115

The Harlem Renaissance and the African Diaspora

The goal of this course is twofold. First, the course provides students with both a broad overview of seminal texts--written by figures like Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Claude McKay, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, George Schuyler, and W.E.B. DuBois--that are constitutive of the canon of the Harlem Renaissance and to situate those texts in their contemporary literary, political, and international contexts. Second, the course provides an account of how the literary production of the Harlem Renaissance laid the groundwork for contemporary conceptions and articulations of the African Diaspora around the globe. The course will address topics and wuestions including: the contemporary politics, aesthetics, and material conditions of production that surrounded the creation of Harlem Renaissance texts; the triple demand of the Harlem Renaissance Author—to create "more sophisticated" African American literary works, to create "authentic black texts," and to answer to communal demands for literature in the service of racial uplift; how did "The Worldwide Negro Vogue" inform the wellsprings of the Harlem Renaissance; how did the Soviet Union's 1926 "Solution to the Race Problem" inform the great works of thus particular period?; what features, other than time period, distinguish Harlem Renaissance texts from other early 20th century literary works written in English?; the extent to which Harlem Renaissance prose and poetry were informed by earl iterations of pan-Africanism and pan-Americanism; the professed internationalism of the so-called New Negro movement and the consequences of such aspirations, the early efforts made by Harlem Renaissance writers to bridge both trans-Atlantic and inter-American gaps to build bridges between communities of color the world over; the means, modes, and motivations for both the exportation and importation of Harlem Renaissance texts in translation; how, and the degree to which, Harlem Renaissance authors' desires to foment a nationalist literature actually led to an international, and at times hegemonic, conception of "blackness"; how the differing receptions of Harlem Renaissance texts and authors abroad laid the groundwork for the Négritude movement in poetry and politics, the self professed indebtedness of Négritude's "Big Three"—Césaire, Damas, and Senghor—to the literary production of the Harlem Renaissance; and how this indebtedness informed the cultural aspirations and affinities of post-colonial African nations. In addition to regular attendance and in-class participation, students will be expected to complete short reading quizzes and two take-home exams.

01  MW6  CAC  11594  DEONARINE   MU-208

Blackness, Sexuality, and Power

This course offers students an introduction to several of the landmark novels, plays, short stories, essays, and collections of poetry that help to comprise the great works of African American literature. We will examine representative works from each of the major periods that follow (and include) the Harlem Renaissance and extend to the present day, paying special heed to the way our authors portrays black sexuality in order to provoke conversations about the workings of domination and power itself. This exploration will require us to read works not only in relation to theories of power, violence, and sexuality, but also in relation to the literary and socio-economic context of their productions. We will also strive to grapple with the question of why these particular works are considered with an eye to elucidate why these works are considered central to the African American literary tradition. Students will have the chance to encounter seminal texts penned by luminaries including Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Jamaica Kincaid, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Richard Wright. In addition to regular attendance and in-class participation, students will be expected to complete short reading quizzes and two take-home exams.

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