English 449

ENGL 449
African American Literature

Catalog Entry

ENGL 449. African American Literature
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisite: CORE 101 and CORE 102

Study of literature written by African Americans. Scope includes all genres and periods. Enables students to understand African American literature both in itself and within the larger context of American literature and culture.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course provides an overview of the African American literary tradition, Syllabus topics may include:


1. A consideration of the historical and cultural contexts in which the African American literary tradition has evolved.
2. The relationship between literary and vernacular elements in that tradition.
3. Close readings of specific texts in various genres that are important in the development of that tradition.
4. Readings in criticism both by and about African American writers and scholars.


  1. Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course includes lecture and general discussion as well as peer group or workshop activities and student-led presentations and discussions.


Goals and Objectives of Course

The goal of this course is to make students aware of the existence of a specifically African American literature within the larger American literary tradition, and of the relationship between the two traditions. Students are expected to become familiar with specific works by African American writers, and more generally with the forms, genres, and conventions of African American literature and with the historical and cultural forces that helped to shape them.


Assessment Measures

Students’ understanding of literature, and of the relationship of literature to the larger culture, may be assessed in a number of ways:


1. Quizzes on readings.
2. Informal response essays.
3. Oral presentations.
4. Tests and examinations.


Because the ability to write about literature is a necessary adjunct to the ability to think about literature, students are expected to be able to write a researched critical essay about some aspect of the material in this course.


Other Course Information



Review and Approval

October, 2009