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AFRICAN-AMERICA LITAML 3614 0001

Dr. Obi Nwakanma


Time: T/TR (10:30 am-11:45pm)
Venue: BHC 0126
Office: Colbourn Hall, Rm. 411E
Office Phone: 407-823-2212
E-mail:obi.nwakanma@ucf.edu
Office hours: Tue (1:30 pm to 2:30 pm or by appointment)
Texts:
A) John Edgar Wideman, The Cattle Killing
B) Octavia Butler, Kindred
C) Sherley Anne Williams, Dessa Rose
D) Olauda Equiano, Equiano Travels
E, Charles Johnson, Middle Passage
F) Gayl Jones, Corregidora
G) Colson Whitehead, Sag Harbor
About This Course:
African-American literature constitutes an important tradition of Ethnic
Literatures in America; it attempts to take into account the broad spectrum of experience
of African peoples and their descendants since the first slave ship arrived in the New
World. It unveils through various strategies the suppressed and marginalized life as well
as the vitality behind what W.E. B. Du Bois would call the soul of black folk. We can
generally situate an African-American literary canon from the achievements of the poet
Phyllis Wheatley writing in colonial America, and the slave narratives and fiction of the
early to mid 19th century, and the surge of new black expressive culture through the
Harlem Renaissance in the twentieth century, down to current or contemporary
developments in that culture that is now specifically tagged African-American culture in
America. African-American Literature thus occupies a space in the larger culture of a
global/ Diasporic Black world that claims its own specific tradition, and thus allows us
entry behind the veil of African-American culture into centuries of the lived life
through the middle passage and beyond.
The goal of this course is to attempt to answer certain questions raised by the
African-American presence in American life through its literature by addressing issues of
identity and ethnicity; in other words, looking at the implications of what it means to be
African American as explored through literature, tied to the larger construct of the
relationship between race and art. How does the African-American or Black artist
negotiate what Du Bois again concluded to be the strangeness of being black in
America? At the end of this semester we may come to some understanding of the
aesthetic as well as historical, and even political dimensions of African-American
literature by examining how African American writers have used different artistic and

narrative techniques to raise questions, explore, and even expand the relationship
between history and art
COURSE OBJECTIVES:
The following generally constitute the more specific objectives of this course:
A. To familiarize students with the variety of the African American literary texts and
introduce them to a sense of the African American literary tradition.
B. To help students to understand the critical arguments of and about the Black text and
develop the contexts that will permit them to recognize and value, the literary qualities
in specific texts.
C. To help students in this class to improve their research and writing skills in the field of
literary studies.
D. To get students to understand and appreciate the intertext between African American
literary texts and the texts of global black/African history.
GRADES:
Grades in this class will be determined as follows:
1.Three examstwo of these will be 5- page essays written in the course of the semester
that would measure our reading and study, and the third will be in the final exams a 10page essay. The first two of these essays will carry 15% each, while the final essay will
carry 30%.
2. Quizzes There will be quizzes of 10- 15 questions based on the readings assigned
for a class period. Students who miss a quiz for any reason may not retake them at
another time. The quizzes carry a total grade of 20%
3. Writing projectsStudents in this class will have one annotated bibliography and a
review paper/reflective journal based on class notes. This carries a total grade of 10% All
students are required to submit all these assignments. Failure to submit one or more
of the assignments will result in an automatic F for the course.
4. Attendance/class participation Attendance is critical because 10% of the final
grades in this class will be based on active class participation through discussions and
regular attendance. Please take specific note of this requirement. Sometimes, as the
occasion demands, we may continue the discussion of class using the on-line/ internet
platform. This would all be considered part of class participation. More than two
unexcused absences in the course of the semester will mean automatic loss of grade to the
point of an F. It is your responsibility to find out from your classmates about any missed
work. Please do not ask me.
Office hours:
I have noted by office hours above. Please feel free to drop by to discuss your work or
other matters related to class. I check my e-mail once a day. Nonetheless, if you wish to
meet at any other time other than my office hours, we can arrange an appointment.
The Honor Code:
The University of Central Florida takes academic integrity very seriously. Students and

faculty are required to exhibit the highest standards of academic honesty in their work.
Plagiarism that tendency to use the published work of another without due
acknowledgement; passing it off as yours is highly frowned up. Discovery of
plagiarism in a student work in this class will mean (a) automatic failure (b) will be
subject to further university sanction.
Students With Disability:
Students who may need accommodation based on disability should contact the UCF Students Disability
Services. You can contact the SDS on Ferrell Commons 7 F, Orlando. Tel. 407-823-2371 e-mail:
sds@ucf.edu.

Grading:
95-100: A
90-94: A88-89: B+
85-87: B
80-83: B77-79: C+
75- 77: C
70-74: C65-69: D
0-64: F

Schedule of Assigned Readings


WK 1 (Jan 8-10) Introductions (HANDOUT)

WK 2 (Jan 15.-17) Olaudah Equiano: Equianos Travels


WK 3 (Jan 22-24): Further Discussions on Equiano/Introduce Charles Johnson Middle
Passage
WK 4 (Jan 29- Jan. 31): Further Discussions on Charles Johnson/ Assign First paper/
Introduce Sherley Anne Williams Dessa Rose.
WK 5 (Feb.5- 7): Further Discussion of Sherley Anne Williams, Dessa Rose/First
paper due
WK 6 (Feb. 12 -14): Introduce Octavia Butlers Kindred /Library work (for annotation
material)
WK 7 (Feb 19 21) Further discussion of Octavia Butlers Kindred / Assign 2nd
paper.
WK 8 (Feb.26- 28): Class Forum/ Quiz/ No class on Thursday March 1 (AWP
Conference)
WK 9 (March 4-9) Spring Break
WK 10 (March 12- 14): Gayl Jones, Corregidora/ 2nd paper due
WK 11 (March 19 21): Further discussion on Corregidora/ introduce John Edgar
Widemans Cattle Killing
WK 12 (March 26-28): Further Discussion on Widemans The Cattle Killing
WK 13 (April 2- 4): Further discussion of Widemans The Cattle Killing /
Review/reflective paper paper/ annotated bibliography due.

WK 14 (April 9-11): Introduce Colson Whiteheads Sag Harbor/ No class on


Thursday 12 (ALA Conference)
WK 15 (April 16 - 18): Further discussion on Sag Harbor/ End of class/
Summary/Finals
Exam week (April 23) Final Conversation/ Last class
Final paper due Exam week (24-30)