Course Syllabus

Spring 2014

ENGL-344-01: Major Black Writers

Dr. Williams

Hinkle Hall 208

Office Hours: MWF 11:00 a.m.-11:50 a.m. and by appointment



Focus: This upper-level English literature elective course concentrates on the experiences

            of African and African Diaspora women writers from the early 20th to the late 20th

                 century. In particular, insofar as all these novels take place “after” slavery or in

           “non-slavery” locations (from Cincinnati Ohio in the early 20th century to London,

            England near the end of the 20th century), we will trace the persistence of the

            after-effects of slavery and its attendant undercarriages (racism and sexism) in

            these stories. In doing so we will travel from the American South and Haiti to

            Cincinnati, Ohio and New York City, from Nigeria and Zimbabwe to Los Angeles

            and London.  



Texts: Beloved, Toni Morrison; Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston;

            Kindred, Octavia Butler; The Stone Virgins, Yvonne Vera; Kehinde, Buchi

            Emecheta; The Icarus Girl, Helen Oyeyemi; The Dew-Breaker, Edwidge




Text: Towards An Understanding of Africology, Victor Oguejiofor Okafor


Requirements: Two Oral Reports: On the days that I am not in class—February 21,

                          February 26, March 21 and March 28—students will give short oral

                          reports (5-7 minutes) on a particular topic or issue pertinent to the novels

                          we have read and are reading. These reports may function as brief

                          summaries of your papers. These presentations will be recorded by ISS.

                          Half of the class will give their presentations on one of the two dates in

                          each month. The rest of the class will give their presentations on the

                          second date. Those who present first (February 21) will give their second

                          presentation on the last date (March 28). Those who go second in

                          February (February 26) will go first in March (March 21).


                         Two Papers: The first paper, which will be due Friday February 28, must

                         cover two of the first three novels (Beloved, Their Eyes Were Watching

                         God, The Stone Virgins). The second, due May 2 (we will not have class

                         that day so you may email or drop off the paper), must cover two of the

                         last four novels (Kehinde, Kindred, The Icarus Girl, The Dew-Breaker).


                         Midterm examination on Friday February 28.


                         Final Examination on May 9 (8:00 a.m.-9:50 a.m.)


                         Impromptu (“pop”) quizzes on reading assigned for specific class days.


                         Regular and consistent participation in class discussions.


Grading: Oral Reports                                     20 points (10 points each)

                 Papers                                              20 points (10 points each)

                 Midterm examination                      20 points

                 Final examination                            20 points

                 Impromptu quizzes                          10 points

                 Class participation                           10 points


Schedule: Week

  1. Beloved
  2. Beloved
  3. Beloved
  4. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  5. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  6. The Stone Virgins
  7. The Stone Virgins; Oral Report; Midterm exam; Paper #1 Due
  8. The Stone Virgins
  9. Kehinde
  10. Kindred
  11. Kindred
  12. The Icarus Girl
  13. The Icarus Girl
  14. The Dew-Breaker
  15. The Dew-Breaker
  16. Final Examination May 9, 2014, 8 a.m.-9:50 a.m.



Miscellaneous: The use of laptops*, cell phones, I-phones or any texting devices during class is strictly forbidden. Any student caught using such devices will be marked absent for the day and will not be allowed to participate in class in any form whatsoever. Students who attend class without the book being discussed that day will also be considered absent and will likewise be forbidden to participate in class discussions or take quizzes. Students who walk into class more than five minutes after class begins will also be considered absent for the day and will not be permitted to participate in class discussions and/or take quizzes. Late papers will be penalized a half a grade per day (not class) late. Plagiarism, intentional or not, will result in automatic failure of the course.





Course Summary:

Date Details Due