Course: AAS359-ENG366
Instructor: Nishikawa
S 2015

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

The goal of this course is to survey 20th and 21st century African-American literature for key patterns and transitions among authors and their works. More specifically, students investigate why certain genres and styles emerged at different points during and after the Harlem Renaissance. Students will study many different genres, including novels, essays, short stories, poetry, stage production, and some visual texts. The first half of the semester, students focus primarily on Harlem Renaissance texts, while the second half focuses on post-Renaissance texts. Assignments are due about every three weeks in this class, with one book and supplementary readings due every week. There are two close-reading exercises, which are meant to give students practice in analyzing literary form to prepare to locate a novel’s place and impact in the mid-20th century African-American literary period. There is a final 6-8 page paper, which asks students to do similar work done in the midterm paper, but with respect to themes and topics discussed in the second half of the course. Finally, there is a final exam made up of a variety of writing exercises, including an essay.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

AAS 359 is comprised of two class meetings and one precept a week. One class meeting is lecture-based, while the other is discussion-based, although both give students opportunity for participation and discussion.

Learning For and From Assignments

The main challenge with this class is the amount of reading. Some of the texts are fairly large, almost too large to be read in one week. Professor Nishikawa also expects students to come to class not only having read the entire text and other readings, but to also be ready to discuss them in-depth. The most important thing is to read all of the texts, including supplementary readings. These will not only help you to stay afloat during class, but they are vital for the final examination, which asks students to write on almost every text from both halves of the class, and make connections among them. If short on time, the best thing to do is work hard to finish the books, and mark passages as you go along. Then, you can go back and analyze those passages more deeply afterwards. These texts are taught chronologically, so always look for connections between a text and the preceding text—there are always many links to be found.

External Resources

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

African American Literature: Harlem Renaissance to Present

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