L374 25918 ETHNIC AMERICAN LITERATURE
11:15a-12:30a TR (30 students)3 cr., A&H.
TOPIC: "Native and African American Literature"
Through a study of poetry, short stories, and novels, we will analyze the intersections between African American and Native American literature. Our first frame will be Sherman Alexie’s own framing of "reservation blues" with the story of Robert Johnson as the lone black man who wanders, from one crossroads to another, into an Indian reservation. Representations of the Native American in the African American imagination will then be explored through an analysis of Alice Walker’s By the Light of My Father's Smile. After this juxtaposition of texts that directly address the Black/Indian interface, we will analyze the more subtle connections that emerge when we begin to think about the specificity of the African American and Native American literary traditions. As we consider both the conscious and unconscious dialogues between African American and Native American literature, our focal points may be images of the displaced homeland, body politics, cultural syncretism, naming rituals, racialized primitivism, and representations of otherness in African American and Native American imaginations. The course will include a focus on the history of “Black Indians” (as well as the history and literary representations of black cowboys). The film Daughters of the Dust may highlight many of our central questions about the Black/Indian interface.
Our texts may include When Brer Rabbit Meets Coyote: African- Native American Literature, Reinventing the Enemy's Language, Leslie Silko's Ceremony, Alice Walker's By the Light of My Father’s Smile, Toni Morrison's Paradise, Ishmael Reed's Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down, and Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues and Indian Killer.
The course will be discussion-oriented. Active class participation is required. Two essays will be written: a 5-7 page essay and a final 12 page essay. There will also be a final exam.