The African American Novel
Instructor: Professor Miranda Green-Barteet
Winter Half Course.
This course will examine the African American novel. We will start by thinking about the genre of the novel, including narrative traditions and narrative strategies, and the historical context in which these individuals wrote. Further, we will consider why the African American novel began to flourish in the mid-nineteenth century, examining the changing political and cultural landscape of the United States as well as consider how writers used the genre to protest the continued disenfranchisement of African Americans in the 20th and 21st centuries. As we read, we will reflect on America's changing literary market and Americans' changing tastes to consider what makes a novel part of the American canon (or what precisely the American canon is, for that matter). We will also consider the political and historical purpose of each novel, trying to determine what impact (if any) the work had on American culture and continues to have. We will discuss issues raised by different writers, texts, and literary movements, and how these issues may relate to particular historical and cultural events; such issues may include the notion of "America" and "being an American," race and racism, the rise of industry, selfhood and alienation, the possibility of violence, regionalism, modernity, feminism, and multiculturalism.