Department of English Department of English College of Arts and Sciences
Course Descriptions
Dr. Shelby Crosby

This course will work within a historical framework beginning with the Colonial Period and ending with the Harlem Renaissance. To understand Early African American Literature one must begin to understand the monumental impact slavery has had on American culture. Therefore, we will begin this course by studying the slave narrative and its effect on the “peculiar institution” of slavery. We will interrogate the notion of freedom that emerges in the nineteenth century and continues to develop and change in the early twentieth century, paying particular attention to the complexity of the “double consciousness” within African American conceptualizations of freedom. Themes we will explore in the course include such markers of freedom as: literacy, voting rights, domesticity, ownership of property and self, and the birth of the New Negro.

Tentative Reading List:

Norton Anthology of African American Literature, edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. & Nellie McKay—9780393977783


Clotel; or The President’s Daughter—William Wells Brown—9780312152659


Black No More—George Schuyler—9781555530631

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Last Updated: 3/6/12