Introduction to African Diaspora Literature -- Diversity Intensive (online)

ENGL 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, with emphasis on Dubois’ Criteria of Negro Art,” a precursor to the cultural & literary debates of the searing 60s, following the inception of the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s.  That Movement was ignited by the 1955 brutal lynching of 14-year-old Black Chicago Youth, Emmett Till.  Three months later, that horrific incident was followed by Rosa Parks’ demonstration & Dr. M.L. King’s leadership in the Civil Rights Movement.

The searing 60s and the 70s highlight the Black Arts/Black Aesthetics Movement, with Amiri Baraka, its prime mover, and Maulana Karenga’s 7 Principles and Kwanzaa, the 1st African American holiday.  A continuation of the Black Aesthetics is represented by Black Aesthetician Richard Barksdale, theorizing on it beyond that period, while the 80s ushered in Molefi Asante’s Afrocenticity.  This latter part of the 20th and early 21st centuries highlights the Africana literary and theoretical works of several Africana theorists, including Robert L. Williams’ Ebonics and Obedike Kamau’s analysis of Reparation.  Finally, there are several Black women theorists, including chief black feminists Barbara Smith and bell hooks, & Africana Womanist, Hudson-Weems, who set forth literary theories for analyzing Black women writers. 

Highlighted is 20th & early 21st century Africana literary & theoretical works of key Africana writers of the period, including Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison & her novel, Home. The course objective is to introduce students to Africana literature & theory to interpret Black life.