Course: ENGL 2460Division: Humanities
Department: English & Philosophy
Title: African-American Literature
Semester Approved: Spring 2021
Five-Year Review Semester: Fall 2025
End Semester: Fall 2026
Catalog Description: This course focuses on the contributions of African-American writers to the development of a multi-racial culture in America, and to the expression of the black experience through literature.
General Education Requirements: Humanities (HU)
Semesters Offered: TBA
Credit/Time Requirement: Credit: 3; Lecture: 3; Lab: 0
Justification: A lower division survey of American literature is standard at most colleges and universities. This course will transfer as general education, elective, or major credit. It fulfills general education credit within the Humanities category (HU) and a major requirement for English majors. The Humanities are a group of academic disciplines that study the many ways by which humans have attempted to understand themselves and their world. At Snow College, the Humanities focus on cultural traditions that are expressed largely through text or which have a strong textual component: languages, literature, and philosophy. Literature by African-American authors is a unique example of those cultural traditions. The methods by which the Humanities study culture are at once analytical and interpretive, objective and subjective, historical and aesthetic.
General Education Outcomes:
1: A student who completes the GE curriculum has a fundamental knowledge of human cultures and the natural world. An important goal of this course is to foster an appreciation of literature in general. After completing this course, students are prepared to recognize and enjoy literary works for intellectual as well as visceral reasons. Students read and discuss a selection of significant and representative African-American literature texts in order to understand its development, history, and culture. Quizzes, writing assignments, examinations, special projects, and class discussions will ask students to consider readings in a variety of contexts.
2: A student who completes the GE curriculum can read and research effectively within disciplines. Students read a variety of primary texts and are quizzed on content. Discussion questions, writing prompts, and writing assignments are designed to elicit constructive and critical responses (e.g. "What values or beliefs are being transmitted through this piece of literature?" "What is the author trying to communicate through this piece of literature and what strategies does the author employ to accomplish that goal?")
3: A student who completes the GE curriculum can draw from multiple disciplines to address complex problems. While the primary content of the course is literature, students will be exposed to film, fine art, music, theory, economics, history, and more in order to better contextualize the literature. By examining the complex experiences (as related through the literature) through other disciplinary lenses, students will gain a richer and more nuanced understanding and appreciation for African-American literature.
4: A student who completes the GE curriculum can reason analytically, critically, and creatively. Students are asked to critically evaluate rhetorical choices the author makes in order to understand and interpret the literature. Students are also asked to understand the development of ideas, movements, and genres in African-American literature as reflected through representative texts. Students will demonstrate their ability to read and think critically about literature, understand its context, and interpret meaning through essay exams, papers, and class discussion.
5: A student who completes the GE curriculum can communicate effectively through writing and speaking. Students write on a regular basis demonstrating the validity of various theses in diverse writing assignments. Writing assignments are designed around the collaborative model and incorporate all elements of the writing process. Written assignments will be returned with suggestions for improving the student's writing skills.
General Education Knowledge Area Outcomes:
1: Through the study of a representative selection of African-American literature texts from slave narratives to contemporary works, students will examine a variety of historical and social questions about the African-American experience (i.e. the effects of history on contemporary works, historical provocation of works, search of identity and acceptance, inclusion vs. exclusion, systemic racism). Class discussions, essays, essay-exams, and personal journals will allow students to demonstrate they can articulate ways in which African-American authors have asked and answered various questions; they will also allow students to demonstrate they can participate in the conversation. Through the study of a representative selection of African-American literature texts from slave narratives to contemporary works, students will examine a variety of historical and social questions about the African-American experience (i.e. the effects of history on contemporary works, historical provocation of works, search of identity and acceptance, inclusion vs. exclusion, systemic racism). Class discussions, essays, essay-exams, and personal journals will allow students to demonstrate they can articulate ways in which African-American authors have asked and answered various questions; they will also allow students to demonstrate they can participate in the conversation.
2: Understand how knowledge is created through the study of language systems, literature, and/or philosophy. Through the practice of close reading (literary analysis), students will understand how knowledge is created within the field of literature. Students will be able understand how such things as history, audience, authorial choices in relation to the text, and personal biases impact the reading of a text. Students will be expected to master a wide variety of terms and concepts associated with African-American literature across disciplines (systemic racism, whitewashing, redlining, Reconstruction, triangle trade, etc.) in the form of class discussions, quizzes, and exams. Students will be asked to demonstrate their ability to read closely on exams, in quizzes, and in written assignments.
3: Understand cultural traditions within an historical context and make connections with the present. Students will understand black cultural development in the United States from the time of slavery through the present as presented through literature. They will also be able to discuss representative works of American literature in historical context and be able to articulate connections with contemporary culture, figures, and literature. Class discussions, quizzes, personal journals, and exams will allow students to identify, contextualize, and explain various authors, works, and movements in African-American literature.
4: Critically read and respond to primary texts (original, uninterpreted) from a Humanities’ perspective. Students will be able to read, interpret, analyze, and respond to a representative selection of primary literary texts. Reading strategies, writing assignments, quizzes, discussions, and exams will allow students to demonstrate an ability to read critically in order to better understand, engage, and appreciate literary texts.
5: Write effectively within the Humanities discipline to analyze and form critical and aesthetic judgments. Students will be able to write interpretive/analytic/argumentative papers of varying lengths that are supported through specific textual analysis. They will be given feedback from both the instructor and classmates on written drafts and then be given an opportunity to revise.
Student Learning Outcomes:
English 2460 covers a selection of significant and representative literary works of American literature that is written by African-American authors. Through lecture and discussion, the course will focus on close reading, literary conventions, historical influences, contextual and textual analysis, interpretation, synthesis, critical thinking, and writing.
Key Performance Indicators:
Participation, quizzes, discussion questions, journals 10 to 20%
Writing assignments 30 to 50%
Exams 30 to 40%
Oral reports 10 to 20%
Representative Text and/or Supplies:
The texts will vary according to departmental decisions and instructors' wishes. The following is representative of the kind of anthology that will be used. The instructor may also include representative novel(s) as part of the reading curriculum.
Gates, Henry Louis. The Norton Anthology of African-Literature. Vol. 2. current edition
ENGL 2460 recognizes the historical inadequacy of the literary canon and offers a course on literature written by African-American authors. Students will work to better understand, engage, and appreciate literature by a historically and currently marginalized group, making connections between these literary experiences and modern-day realities for African-Americans. Students will engage with the literature across disciplines, studying a multiplicity of perspectives such as economics, history, race and literary theory, and more in order to make connections between the literature and lived experiences of the authors. Class discussions will provide time for larger conversations, while journals will provide opportunities for personal reflection and growth as students engage with the literature, encouraging them to apply this knowledge of human experiences in their everyday lives to create a more inclusive classroom and campus. In addition, efforts will be made to include guest lectures from African-American writers, artists, and academics.
Maximum Class Size: 30
Optimum Class Size: 20