Introduction to African American Literature – Bryan Carter


When you hear the term “African-American
Literature” what first comes to mind? The term may conjure canonical name such as:
Frederick Douglass, Booker T Washington, W.E.B.Dubois, Mary Church Terrell, Ida B.
Wells, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, the late great Toni
Morrison, Colson Whitehead, or countless other names. But why do you suppose those
writers fit into the category of “African-American Literature”? And not only
“American Literature”? Now the answer to that question is so much more complex
than simply. “because they’re African-American”. The exciting evolution
of African-American literature was born from within an oppressive, racist,
xenophobic, and gender-based evolution of America. The contextualized narratives
that we’ll experience this term will address a number of themes being debated
within the African-American community. Through our discussion we’ll
deconstruct power, class, race, sexuality, and politics as they each relate to what
may have inspired African-American artists to create and to which many
responded in a variety of ways from just before and prior to the 20th century
until very near the present. Now black artists and intellectuals and activists
debated whether they should respond to white stereotypes or if they should
insist on the right of self-definition whatever the consequences. Should writers
use standard English or dialect to represent speech of Black Americans? and
how should this language be conveyed on the page? Should black authors and visual
artists air dirty laundry or present only the positive images of black people? Although there was a general consensus about the need for black people to
represent black people there was no consensus about what these
representations should look like. This is going to be a most exciting exploration
particularly given the national discussions today surrounding race in
America. I can’t wait to start our journey see
you soon!

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