ENGL411: African-American Literature

Course Syllabus for "ENGL411: African-American Literature"

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African American literature grew out of the oral tradition of storytelling and spirituals.  In this course, you will consider these verbal modes and their impact on the literary production of African American authors from the Colonial period to the current day.  Along with considering the content of literary works, you will examine the cultural, historical, and political contexts of the literature, as well as how the issues of gender, race, and class affect the production and meaning of these works. In this course, you will examine the development of African American literature in seven units: Oral Traditions; The Literature of Slavery; Reconstruction to the  New Negro Renaissance Movement; Harlem Renaissance; Realism, Naturalism, and Modernism; Black Arts; and the Contemporary Period.  This course begins with a unit that studies African American literature’s inception through oral tradition.  This unit will teach you about the beginnings of narrative and will ground your understanding in the development of the literary tradition. We will also identify the principal authors and characteristics of each of these periods and read representative texts.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the cultural influences and the development of African American literature.
  • Analyze the evolution of African American literature from an oral to a literary tradition.
  • Define the functions of African American literature from its inception in the period of slavery to the contemporary period. 
  • Identify the major authors and/or literary works in the various literary periods and movements (Reconstruction to the New Negro Renaissance Movement; Harlem Renaissance; Realism, Naturalism, and Modernism; Black Arts; and the Contemporary Period).

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Have competency in the English language.

      Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Course Information

Welcome to ENGL411.  Below, please find some general information about the course and its requirements.
Course Designer: Patricia Kennedy Bostian
Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  Pay special attention to Unit 1 as this lays the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, exploratory material presented in the later units.  You will also need to complete:

  • The Final Exam 

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam.  However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through all of the materials in the course.
In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam.  Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 116 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself.  For example, Unit 1 should take you 5 hours.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunit 1.1 (a total of 3 hours) on Monday night; subunit 1.2 (a total of 2.25 hours) on Tuesday night; subunit 1.3 (a total of 3 hours) on Wednesday night; etc.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.