ENGL 4203W studies African American literature from the post-Reconstruction period (roughly 1877 – 1910). This important period in American political and social history also produced some of literary texts that would shape African American literary history and criticism for the next century. We will examine literary representations critical historical developments, including the rise and decline of African American political representation, the battle over approaches to “black uplift,” the surge of political activism by African American women, debates over the uses of black folklore and the politics of black speech. We will also learn how African American literature produced during this period shaped the formal and thematic concerns characterizing the African American literary tradition. Authors will include Frances Harper, Charles Chesnutt, W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Booker T. Washington.
The writing component of ENGL 4203W will help to develop tools and strategies for writing clear, cohesive, and persuasive college-level essays and write them more easily, more efficiently, and with less anxiety. The course emphasizes writing as a process, beginning with reading actively and engaging with the text, then thinking critically about what you have read, formulating an analytical thesis, effectively developing an argument, developing a thesis statement through supportive and analytical topic sentences, developing topic sentences through the presentation of textual evidence and analysis, and finally revising the argument in response to readers’ comments. The course encourages you to think critically about your own individual writing process and to improve writing habits and skills.