english 298 african american literature response paper 1


The problem of racial identity in the United States is one of the major themes we’ve discussed during class thus far. This problem manifests itself in African American literature as what we’ve come to call the Black subjectivity debate / dialectic. The debatable meaning of Black subjectivity in the United States stems from race’s instability as a social construct. For this paper, briefly discuss your understanding of what makes race problematic as a social construct and then demonstrate your understanding by comparing how two of the assigned readings we’ve discussed thus far differ in their interpretations of Blackness… despite both being written by African American writers. Your analysis must hinge on direct quotations and examples from the texts you decide to analyze. Only use assigned course texts as your sources for this paper.

Course Texts:

Gates, Henry Louis. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature
Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes were Watching God.

Paper guidelines:

Papers must use proper MLA citation style in formatting in-text parenthetical citations and works cited page. See the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) site for help with MLA: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/ (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.). In addition to MLA, papers should be formatted as follows:

  • 12-point font
  • Times New Roman
  • 1-inch margins
  • Double-spaced
  • MLA style in-text parenthetical citations throughout paper when quoting sources
  • MLA style works cited page at the end of the paper
  • Page numbers and your last name in the upper right-hand corner of every page
  • 5-7 pages in length (This means at least 5 full pages of text, not 4.5 or 4.75)

  • Week 1
    W 22 Jan Class Introduction Week 2
    W 29 Jan WEBDu Bois excerpts from The Souls of Black Folk, “The Forethought” and “Of Our Spiritual Strivings.” Booker T. Washington excerpts from Up From Slavery, Chapter Fourteen: “The Atlanta Exposition Address” and “Struggle for an Education.”Week 3
    W 5 Feb Malcolm X, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and Martin Luther King Jr. “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” Week 4
    W 12 Feb Harriet Jacobs excerpt from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Frederick Douglass excerpt from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.Week 5
    W 19 Feb Charles Chesnutt, “The Goophered Grapevine,” “The Passing of Grandison,” and “The Wife of His Youth.” Week 6
    W 26 Feb Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (Chapters 1-10) Week 7
    W 4 Mar Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (Chapters 11-Afterword) Week 8
    W 11 Mar Spring Break – No ClassSu 15 Mar Midterm Exam (Complete on Canvas by 11:59pm) Week 9
    W 18 Mar Phillis Wheatley, “On Being Brought from Africa to America,” “On Imagination,” “To His Excellency General Washington,” and “On the Death of Rev. Mr. George Whitefield.” Paul Laurence Dunbar, “Ode to Ethiopia,” “An Ante-Bellum Sermon,” “When Malindy Sings,” and “We Wear the Mask.”Week 10
    W 25 Mar Claude McKay, “If We Must Die,” “To The White Fiends,” “Africa,” “America,” “My Mother,” and “Outcast.” Langston Hughes, “Theme for English B,” “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” “Mother to Son,” “Danse Africaine,” “The Weary Blues,” and “I, Too.” Week 11
    W 1 Apr James Baldwin introductory notes and “Notes of a Native Son” and “Sonny’s Blues.”

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