Hey, everyone. I'll be putting announcements on this page having to do with course requirements, changes in these web pages, and other matters. I recommend looking here every time you visit the course web site--at least once a week.
Welcome to the course!
I'm happy to announce that Dr. Patrick Courts of our own English Department (author of several books, including Multicultural Literacies) is going to give a guest lecture during next Thursday's class. Check here for more details as his lecture comes nearer. Note also that I've reduced the reading load for next Thursday's class to free up time for discussing Dr. Courts's presentation; see the schedule of assignments for details. Our goal for next Thursday's class will be to relate issues coming out of the film and readings for that week to the sociolinguistic perspective on the black vernacular tradition that Dr. Courts will offer us.
Finally, please remember to come to tomorrow's class having read the preface and timeline from the Norton Anthology, having examined the course web pages, and having joined the course listserv. Thanks and see you tomorrow.
Changes to the site:
Don't forget that our first film viewing--of Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust will be at 7 pm tomorrow evening in Fenton 170. And that for Thursday's class, you are to come prepared to compare Johnson and Hurston's essays on the black vernacular tradition with the film as well as with the short stories and poetry on the syllabus for that class. We will begin with a brief presentation by Pat Courts, move into a question and answer session (try to come up with good questions for Dr. Courts that come out of your engagement with the assigned readings), and then open it up to a discussion of issues related to the attempts by various artists to represent the vernacular tradition in print and on film. Big agenda, so have specific passages and ideas ready!
Tomorrow I'll be putting up extensive additions to the course web site--including a great Daughters of the Dust web site, so check here for a summary of updates before coming to the film viewing tomorrow evening.
Hey, everybody. I've made those revisions to the links page that I mentioned yesterday and updated the list of books on reserve; now, I'm working on the "more" page, which, as its name suggests, will tell you more about what we're doing in a given week, what to look for as you're reading, why the unit is organized the way it is, suggestions for further reading, and interesting web sites on topics related to our discussions and readings. See you at the movie tonight!
I've added links on the main page to the suggestions on discussion questions and film analyses that can be found on the more page. Check them out before you post your film analyses and next set of discussion questions. And be on the lookout for an email from me after you've all posted your film analyses--a kind of response to your messages--later in the weekend.
Next week, we'll be moving on to the slave narrative segment, so finish Douglass's Narrative of the Life, but we'll also be relating the representation of slavery in Daughters of the Dust to Douglass's.
Please note the additions to the list of reserves at Reed Library and the changes to the main page and weekly schedule on discussion question policy. From now on, discussion questions will be due no later than 7 pm Tuesday rather than the original plan of no later than 4 pm Monday, in order to give you all more time to think about questions you want us to discuss on Thursday's class. There are two exceptions to this policy--it makes no sense to turn in questions after Tuesday's class on the week of October break and the last week of classes, so questions will be due Monday art 4 pm as usual those weeks.
I've noticed that only around half to 2/3rds of the class is getting discussion questions and film analyses in per week. If that's out of fear that late ones won't be counted, let me reassure you that for the first few weeks, the key thing is to get them in--it's best to start early enough that any technical difficulties you may run into don't make you late, of course, but at least early in the semester, go by the maxim 'better late than never.' Your listserv participation helps me see what you're interested in and it helps you practice getting your ideas down in words in a rather low-key setting (much less stress than your first formal essay, for instance). The listserv portion of your grade is meant to be an easy A, but if you really screw it up it can also bring down your grade much more than you might think it can. So far only about half the class has sent in questions each week. This is simply unacceptable. I expect to see an improvement for next week. Be sure to have read Jacobs's slave narrative and have thought about the representations of gender, sexuality, and female slaves in it and in Beloved, and be ready to compare Jacobs's emphases with Douglass's. Finally, you might consider how each nineteenth-century writer represents the country and the city in his or her slave narrative.
I'll be out of town this weekend, so I'll miss much of my Monday office hours. If you want to see me Monday, come late in the day; otherwise, if it's urgent, we can meet after class on Tuesday or during regular office hours on Wednesday. The reading load is slightly smaller this coming week, so use it as an opportunity to read closely and think carefully about comparisons and contrasts between representations of slavery.
Please note the changes to the syllabus for Thursday's class--we'll be focusing on 1) comparing Jacobs, Harper, and Wheatley, and 2) contrasting how Dunbar and Hayden write about Douglass in their poems. I had to make the Chesnutt and Johnson stories optional, even though they bring together all the "country" issues so well (both slave narratives and the vernacular), because I can't guarantee we'll get to them in class discussion. However, as neo-slave narratives, they might be worth comparing and contrasting for your critical response essay, so read them if you can to find out.
See you for Down in the Delta tomorrow evening. And check out the "more" page before coming to the viewing for ideas and suggestions for further reading and web surfing.
I'm pleased to announce that two Black Studies scholars have agreed to give presentations and lead discussions in early October. Jeffrey Tucker is an assistant professor in the English department at the University of Rochester; he's writing a book on Samuel Delany, science fiction, and African American postmodernism. He'll lecture and lead a class discussion on Samuel Delany's amazing short story we'll be reading for the October 5 class. Mark Anthony Neal, author of What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture and formerly of Fredonia (a both student and teacher), who is now an assistant professor of English and Africana Studies at SUNY Albany, will give a presentation and lead class discussion on the "Chitlin' Circuit" and its links to post-World War II black migration for the October 14 class. I can't tell you all what a privilege it is for us to learn from these two impressive scholars who will be sure to have provocative perspectives on "the city" in mid-century African American literature and culture. If you see MindaRae Amiran, acting chair of the English Department, or Paul Schwartz, dean of arts and humanities, please be sure to thank them for making these talks possible.
Based on our class discussions this week, I've revised the "more" pages to point you in interesting directions if you want to pursue any of the discussion topics further or from a different angle. Unfortunately, I'm having trouble uploading the page on the server, so it may be a little while before it appears. Sorry! For an ugly version of the page, type in "more2.htm" in the location bar after the address for the main page of the web site and hit enter.
For Tuesday's class, let's use Down in the Delta as an opportunity to look back on the "country" unit and re-consider the migration narrative. So look over what you've read these first few weeks of the course and what patterns you see in the representation of the "country" in those texts. Our other aim will be to compare and contrast the Angelou film and the Wilson play for their representations of country and city, so be prepared to discuss that, as well.
We have the opportunity to go hear Angela Davis speak in Rochester on October 13th at 8 pm, for only $5. If a large number of us want to go to this talk, it would mean cancelling the viewing of Slam and making it up to you to see it on your own (you may borrow my copy, which I bought from Blockbuster for $5). If a small number want to go, I can leave a student in charge of the regularly scheduled viewing while the rest of us go to Rochester. Please let me know ASAP what you want to do. I need to contact Jan McVicker, who's arranging tickets and transportation here, before October 4th, but if many want to go, I need to contact the Rochester people directly and order more tickets, because we've only reserved 20 tickets thus far. If you can't get in touch with me over e-mail today, please let me know in class tomorrow.
On a less happy note, the server has been having conniption fits since 5:00 yesterday, so if you're dialing into your Fredonia e-mail account from off-campus via modem, or trying to send email to the listserv from a non-Fredonia e-mail account, you probably are experiencing serious technical difficulties. Never fear--you have an extension if you are in this boat!
Don't forget to prepare those presentations on how Locke, Du Bois, Schuyler, and Hughes would respond to those catchphrases from Spike Lee's movie, "do the right thing" and "fight the power."
Hey all! A few reminders and announcements:
All right, then. Back to finishing up your "mid-term reports" on your discussion questions and film analyses to date! See you tomorrow or the next day!
Just a reminder that Bruce Jacobs will be coming to campus this coming Monday, at 4 pm in S-104 in the Williams Center--by coming, you get extra credit for the course and avoid racking up an absence; you can also make up a film analysis that you've missed by writing on his presentation and relating the issues he raises to readings from the course.
I highly recommend you make an appointment with me to discuss your progress in the course next week. We can look over what and how you've been doing and discuss strategies for the final essay. Remember that you have to turn in a polished copy of your final project proposal, in which you lay out what you want to do and why it's important/interesting--in other words, in which you answer the "what? why? and so what?" questions.
Finally, check out the revisions to the course syllabus on the weekly schedule page; I've decided to show Sankofa instead of Deep Cover the next-to-last week of classes and have put the page numbers for Marshall's novel up on the site so you can plan ahead. The reading load lightens this coming week but gets heavy again with Marshall's novel, which you must get as far through as possible during the Thanksgiving break to be in a position to finish it! Also note that the final essay is now due Monday 12/13 rather than Friday 12/10.
I've updated several pages in recent days. Surf the site when you get a chance. Pay particular attention to the changes in the weekly schedule. Due to availability problems, there will be no films shown after Thanksgiving break and I had to substitute Ngogi Onwurah's The Body Beautiful for Sankofa, , and Deep Cover for tonight. If you want to hand in a film analysis after break, feel free to see any of these movies on your own and write a thoughtful response to it. Each of them relates to the "world" section in fascinating ways, but unfortunately there's no simple way to get access to them for a viewing. Don't forget to turn in a printed-out copy of your prospectus by 5 pm Friday; if you must, email me a copy a bit later (I'll be on campus through the weekend and into next week during break). I'll respond over email before you return to campus. If you want a response during break, please give me an e-mail or regular address for me to contact you at if you will be off-campus. Thanks, and see you tonight!
EN 240: Intro to African American Lit and Culture, Fall 1999
Created: 8/23/99, 3:00 pm
Last modified: 11/18/99, 6:19 am