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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "EN/HS 315-A"
COURSE NAME: "Selected Topics in American Literature: A History of African-American Literature"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2021
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Carlos Dews
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 6:00-7:15 PM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES:
OFFICE HOURS:

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
This course explores in some depth a particular period, theme(s), or genre in American Literature. Students study the major historical and cultural contexts out of which the works grew. An important aim of the course is to deepen students' knowledge of a certain topic through a choice of representative writers and works. May be taken more than once for credit with different topics.  This is a reading and writing intensive course. Students in 300-level literature classes are required to produce 5-6,000 words of critical writing.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:

This course explores in some depth a particular period, theme(s), or genre in American Literature. Students study the major historical and cultural contexts out of which the works grew. An important aim of the course is to deepen students' knowledge of a certain topic through a choice of representative writers and works. May be taken more than once for credit with different topics.  This is a reading and writing intensive course. Students in 300-level literature classes are required to produce 5-6,000 words of critical writing.

This iteration of the course.

This course pairs the consideration of significant historical documents relevant to the lives of those of African descent in the United States of America with the literary texts written by them, to provide both a survey of African-American literature and a history of African Americans in America. From the publication in 1773 of the first book written by an African American (Phyllis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral) and the drafting of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, to the literary responses by Amiri Baraka to the assassination of Malcolm X and the signing of the Voting Rights Act by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, the course will the major literary works, including poetry, fiction, drama, and nonfiction, written by African-American writers and the social and political contexts in which they were written.  May be taken more than once for credit with different topics.  This is a reading and writing intensive course. Students in 300-level literature classes are required to produce 5-6,000 words of critical writing. 

LEARNING OUTCOMES:
Students successfully completing this course will be familiar with the major African-American writers from the colonial period to the Civil Rights Movement as well as the major historical, political, and legislative moments in American history that influenced them.  Students will have significant experience in conducting research and writing about both historical moments in American history and African-American literature.
TEXTBOOK:
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
VariousVariousN/A  All texts, both literary and historical, will be provided electronically to the students. There are no required textbooks to purchase for this course. See the complete reading list for the course below, as well as the week by week required reading in the course schedule, also found below.
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
Historical Paper 20%
Literary Paper 20%
Literary / Historical Paper 20%
Final Exam 40%

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:

ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS AND EXAMINATION POLICY
You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed.

ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS

Students are allowed two absences without consequence. Any absence beyond the two allowed will result in the reduction of your course grade by 5%. Students with a total of more than 7 absences will receive a failing grade (F). Attendance will be taken at the beginning of class. You must be in your seat or present remotely when attendance is taken. Two late arrivals to class will count as an absence.  This policy applies to both in-class and remote-access students.  If you arrive late, after attendance is taken, it is your responsibility to communicate via email with your professor so that your absence can be changed to a late arrival in the attendance record. 

ACADEMIC HONESTY
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.

SCHEDULE

SCHEDULE  

 

Week 1 Course Introduction, Historical and Literary Introduction 

 

Weeks 2 and 3: Colonial / Revolutionary Era  

Literary Texts:  

Phyllis Wheatley (c.1753-1784) Selected poems from Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773)   

Historical Documents:  

Declaration of Independence (Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson), Constitution of the United States of America. 

 

Weeks 4 and 5: Abolitionist Movement / Slave Narratives 

Literary Texts:  

Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897) Excerpts from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) 

William Wells Brown (1814-1884) Excerpts from Clotel: or, The President’s Daughter (1853) 

Frederick Douglass (c.1818-1895) Excerpts from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845) 

Frances E. W. Harper (1825-1911) Selected poems (1840s to 1860) 

Harriet E. Wilson (1825-1900) Excerpts from Our Nig (1859) 

Historical Documents: 

Fugitive Slave Act 1793 

Ban of Importation of Slaves Act 1808 

Fugitive Slave Act 1850 

Dred Scot v. Sanford Decision 1857 

Paper #1 Historical paper due at the end of week 5. 

 

Weeks 6, 7, and 8: Civil War / Reconstruction / The Evolution of the Jim Crow Era 

Literary Texts:  

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) Atlanta Cotton States Exposition Speech (1895) 

W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) Excerpts from Souls of Black Folk "Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others" in The Souls of Black Folk. (1903) 

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) Selected poems. (1890s) 

Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932) “The Goophered Grapevine" (1899) 

Historical Documents: 

Secession Ordinances of Confederate States 1861 

Emancipation Proclamation 1863 

Thirteenth Amendment 1865 

Civil Rights Act 1866 

Fourteenth Amendment 1868 

Fifteenth Amendment 1870 

Plessy v. Ferguson Decision 1896 

 

Week 9, 10, and 11: Harlem Renaissance 

Literary Texts:  

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) Selected poems (1920s) and stories from The Ways of White Folks (1934) 

James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) Excerpts from God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse (1927) and "Lift Every Voice and Sing" (1900) 

Claude McKay (1889-1948) Selected poems (1920s) 

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) “Spunk” (1925) and “The Gilded Six-Bits" (1933) 

Countee Cullen (1903-1946) Selected poems (1920s) 

Paper #2 Literary paper due and the end of week 11. 

 

Weeks 12, 13, and 14: The Legacy of Jim Crow / Modern Civil Rights Movement 

Literary Texts: 

Margaret Walker (1915-1998) Excerpts from For My People (1942) 

James Baldwin (1924-1987) “Sonny’s Blues” (1957) 

Richard Wright (1908-1960) “The Man Who was Almost a Man” (1961) 

Ralph Ellison (1914-1994) “Battle Royal” section from Invisible Man (1947) 

Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) A Raisin in the Sun (1959) 

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) Selected poems, including “We Real Cool” (1959) also poems from Annie Allen (1949) 

Martin Luther King (1929-1968) “I Have a Dream” (1963) and “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963) 

Amiri Baraka (1934-2014) “A Poem for Black Hearts” (1965) 

Historical Documents:  

Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court Decision 1954 

The Civil Rights Act 1964 

The Voting Rights Act 1965 

 

Week 15: “The Arc of the Moral Universe?”:  Broken Promises, Injustice, The Legacy of Jim Crow and the Black Lives Matter Movement: A Look Back/Ahead.   

Literary Texts: 

Caroline Randall Williams, “You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument” 

Historical Document:   

Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court Decision 

Paper #3 Literary and Historical Paper due and the end of week 15. 

 

Week 16: Final examination