Introduction to African Diaspora Literature: Theorizing Africana Literature (online)

Theorizing Africana Literature
English 2400
Clenora Hudson-Weems
Course Description

Theorizing Africana Literature is an undergraduate course designed to introduce students to 20th and 21st Centuries Africana Literature & Theory.  The turn of the 20th century in the Africana literary world is marked by the WEB DuBois & Booker T Washington Controversy, along with Marcus Garvey, which ushered us into the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.  Major poets of that era to be discussed include James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes & Countee Cullen.  Next was the WEB DuBois-Alain Locke Debate of the 30s, a precursor to the cultural & literary debates of the searing 60s, which followed the inception of the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s, ignited by the 1955 brutal lynching of 14-year-old Black Chicago Youth, Emmett Till.  This incident was followed by Rosa Parks’ demonstration & Dr. Martin Luther King’s leadership in the CRM.  The searing 60s highlights the Black Arts/Black Aesthetics Movement, with Amiri Baraka & Larry Neale, the prime movers.  The 70s continued the Movement of the 60s, with Black Aesthetician Richard Barksdale, theorizing on it beyond that period, while the 80s ushered in Molefi Asante’s Afrocenticity.  The latter part of the 20th & early 21st centuries highlight the Africana literary and theoretical works of several Africana theorists in general, including Robert L.Williams--Ebonics & Maulana Karenga--7 Principles & Kwanzaa.  Moreover, there are several Africana women theorists, including chief black feminists Barbara Smith & bell hooks & Africana Womanist Clenora Hudson-Weems, who set forth literary theories as tools of analysis for Black women writers.  To validate the relevancy/applicability to our lives in the world place, we will also consider the political climate surrounding the 1st Africana American President, via studying Africana Womanism & Race & Gender in the Presidential Candidacy of Barack Obama.

The focus on the mid and latter part of the 20th century and the early 21st century will highlight the Africana literary and theoretical works of several known Africana theorists listed above, as well as James Baldwin and Addison Gayle, early chief proponent of Black Aesthetics. Literary works augmenting theoretical concepts include Toni Morrison’s Home.

This course is cross listed with Black Studies 2400.