Introduction to Black Literature and Culture in the United States
As both a celebration and remembrance of Black expressive thought, this course will serve as an introduction to Black literature and culture across several US geographic regions from the standpoint of a variety of intersectional identities and experiences. This course centers on how the artistic, cultural, and literary lives of Black people have shaped US economic, political, and social history since before the nation's founding. In addition to literary texts, this course will introduce students to several examples of cultural expression that have also become beloved touchstones in Black cultural history. Because literary works and works of cultural expression by Black people have long informed the possibilities of American artistic expression and critical thought, they provide possible blueprints for how US life might unfold in the future. Students will learn to apply several existing contexts and methodologies for the study of Black literature and culture, propose directions for future study, and explore their own unique possibilities for deepening their relationships to this body of work. Possible authors include Zora Neale Hurston, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Ernest J. Gaines, Toni Morrison, Octavia E. Butler, and Akwaeke Emezi. Course requirements will likely include class attendance and participation in discussion, weekly reflections on the readings, a take-home midterm examination, and a take-home final essay.
The online version of the Caltech Catalog is provided as a convenience; however, the printed version is the only authoritative source of information about course offerings, option requirements, graduation requirements, and other important topics.