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ENGL411: African-American Literature

Unit 7: Contemporary   This unit will examine the influence of American postmodernism as well as musical trends, such hip-hop, and the embrace of nontraditional literary genres, on contemporary African American authors.  We will situate African American fiction in the context of social, political, and cultural issues of the post-Civil Rights era America.  The struggles of communities to overcome drug epidemics, HIV, and continued racism are the focal point of many contemporary African American authors in this unit.  The pervasive modern culture of violence and its effect on the African American community and the literature it produces will also be examined.

Unit 7 Time Advisory
This unit will take you approximately 9.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 7.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 7.2: 0.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.3: 1 hours

☐    Subunit 7.4: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 7.5: 4 hours

Unit7 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Identify the elements of the neo-slave narrative. - Compare the function of violence in the fiction of both contemporary African American women and men. - Explain how community functions as both barrier and support in the fiction of African American women. - Analyze the development of African American science fiction. - Explain how music and protest movements shaped African American poetry.

7.1 The Neo Slave Narrative   - Reading: Simon and Schuster: Charles Johnson's Oxherding Tale: Introduction and “Chapter One” and Sacred Texts: D.T. Suzuki’s The Manual of Zen Buddhism: “The Ten Oxherding Pictures” Links: Simon and Schuster: Charles Johnson's Oxherding Tale: Introduction and “Chapter One” (Adobe Flash) and Sacred Texts: D.T. Suzuki’s The Manual of Zen Buddhism:The Ten Oxherding Pictures” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the selections from Oxherding Tale (Introduction, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2) and the Buddhist Ten Oxherding Pictures, along with reviewing Donna Campbell's overview of Naturalism from 5.1.2.  As you read Johnson, consider how Naturalism as a literary style, the philosophy of Buddhism, and the history of African American civil rights from the 1960s shape the work.  You should spend approximately 3 hours on these readings.
 
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  • Reading: NPR: Toni Morrison's Beloved, Excerpt (1987) Link: NPR: Toni Morrison's Beloved, Excerpt (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire excerpt.  Reading and note taking should take approximately 1 hour.
     
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  • Lecture: New Jersey Institute of Technology: Norbert Elliot’s “World Literature, Lecture Five: Toni Morrison's Beloved” Link: New Jersey Institute of Technology: Norbert Elliot’s “World Literature, Lecture Five: Toni Morrison's Beloved” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link to “audio” or “video” next to Lecture 05.  Listen to audio or view video lecture.  Elliot places Beloved in context of great world literature and focuses on the characters and how they are shaped by the forces of memory.  Taking notes and viewing this lecture should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
     
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7.2 Women and Violence in African American Literature   - Reading: Harcourt Trade Publishers: Alice Walker’s The Color Purple Link: Harcourt Trade Publishers: Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this excerpt from Walker’s famous epistolary novel, The Color Purple.  This novel addresses the lives of black females in the South during the 1930s.  You should spend approximately 1 hour reading and studying this text.
 
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  • Reading: University of North Carolina: Brett England and Emily Williams’ “True Color Shining Through: The Color Purple, an Adequate Portrayal of Domestic Violence” Link: University of North Carolina: Brett England and Emily Williams’ “True Color Shining Through: The Color Purple, an Adequate Portrayal of Domestic Violence” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire lecture.  The lecture is an introduction to the themes of violence in Walker's novel.  You should spend approximately 1 hour reading and studying this lecture.
     
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7.3 Community in Women's Fiction   - Reading: American Studies at the University of Virginia: Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" Link: American Studies at the University of Virginia: Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read Walker’s short story, “Everyday Use,” which addresses different perspectives of African American identity with the interactions of Mama (the mother) and her two daughters.  This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
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  • Reading: Virginia Tech’s Digital Library and Archives: The ALAN Review: KaaVonia Hinton-Johnson’s “African American Mothers & Daughters: Socialization, Distance, & Conflict” Link: Virginia Tech’s Digital Library and Archives: The ALAN Review: KaaVonia Hinton-Johnson’s “African American Mothers & Daughters: Socialization, Distance, & Conflict” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire article.  Hinton-Johnson sheds life on the relationships between African American mothers and daughters as is seen in Walker's story.  This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
     
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7.4 Nontraditional Genres of African American Literature: Science Fiction   - Reading: The Washington Post: Octavia Butler's "Bloodchild and Other Stories" (1995) Link: The Washington Post: Octavia Butler's "Bloodchild and Other Stories" (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read “Chapter One: Bloodchild” in its entirety.  You should dedicate approximately 3 hours to reading this text.

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  • Reading: DePauw University: Matt Brauer’s “A Critical Examination of Octavia Butler's ‘Bloodchild’” Link: DePauw University: Matt Brauer’s “A Critical Examination of Octavia Butler's ‘Bloodchild’” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Click on the links to “Octavia Butler” for biographical information on the author; “Story Overview” for a brief summary of “Blood Child;” “Analysis” for varying views of the story; and “Criticism and Significance” with quotes from critics.  You should spend approximately 1 hour reading each section of this website.
     
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7.5 Jazz and Protest in African American Poetry   - Reading: Poets.org: “A Brief Guide to Jazz Poetry” Link: Poets.org: “A Brief Guide to Jazz Poetry” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this entire article for an overview of the literary genre of jazz poetry.  This reading should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
 
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  • Web Media: Vimeo: Sekou Sundiata: "Welcome to the Mainland: The Language of Life with Bill Moyers” Link: Vimeo: Sekou Sundiata: "Welcome to the Mainland: The Language of Life with Bill Moyers” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: View the interview and poetry reading segments: 16:00-21:00; 28:50-33:50; and 40:35-50:00.
               
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  • Reading: Poets.org: Quincy Troupe’s "The Day Duke Raised: May 24th, 1974" Link: Poets.org: Quincy Troupe’s "The Day Duke Raised: May 24th, 1974" (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the poem, and listen to the audio version of the poem.  You should spend approximately 30 minutes reading, analyzing, and listening to the poem.
     
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  • Web Media: University of California Television: “Root Doctors: Quincy Troupe and Phil Upchurch” Link: University of California Television: “Root Doctors: Quincy Troupe and Phil Upchurch” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Please view the entire video lecture (29:30 minutes).
     
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  • Reading: Poets.org: Yusef Komunyakaa’s "Blue Dementia" and "My Father's Love Letters" Link: Poets.org: Yusef Komunyakaa’s “Blue Dementia” (HTML) and “My Father's Love Letters” (HTML and Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Please read “Blue Dementia,” and then listen to the audio of “My Father’s Love Letters.”  Remember that playing the audio file multiple times and re-reading the poem will help enhance your understanding.  You should spend approximately 30 minutes reading and listening to these poems.
     
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  • Reading: National Humanities Center: the annonymous’ "The Dogwood Tree"; Poem of the Week: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s "The Haunted Oak"; History Matters: Claude McKay’s "If We Must Die"; Poetry Foundation: Gwendolyn Brooks’ "The Sundays of Satin-Legs Smith"; National Humanities Center: Sonia Sanchez’s "right on: white america" Link: National Humanities Center: the anonymous’ "The Dogwood Tree" (PDF); Poem of the Week: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s "The Haunted Oak" (PDF); History Matters: Claude McKay’s "If We Must Die" (PDF); Poetry Foundation: Gwendolyn Brooks’ "The Sundays of Satin-Legs Smith" (HTML); National Humanities Center: Sonia Sanchez’s "right on: white america" (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read all of these poems.  For the Nation Humanities Center readings, click on the link for the appropriate poem.  In addition, compare the Dunbar poem to the image and poem written by a White author, "The Dogwood Tree," as an exemplar of what Dunbar is protesting against.
     
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  • Reading: National Humanities Center: Trudier Harris’s “African American Protest Poetry” Link: National Humanities Center: Trudier Harris’s “African American Protest Poetry” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please read the article, which reviews the history of African American protest writing from times of slavery to the present, from the beginning to the section titled "Contemporary."  Reading and note taking should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
     
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