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African-American literary studies designates both a distinct field of specialization within the English department and a necessarily dynamic area of interdisciplinary inquiry, the parameters of which are continually evolving. While retaining its longstanding support for African-American studies methodologies, including via faculty with joint appointments in the African-American World Studies program, the department also encourages approaches to African-American literature that situate it in other frameworks. Examples of these approaches include not only institutionalized sites such as American Studies and Women's Studies but also looser affiliations of faculty working in the often-intersecting domains of cultural, diaspora, postcolonial, border, new world, and globalization studies.

Sample courses in the African-American specialty:

  • 8:074 Selected American Authors: James Baldwin & Toni Morrison; Langston Hughes & Alice Walker; Toni Morrison & Octavia Butler; Richard Wright & Zora Neale Hurston
  • 8:098 Poetry and Memoirs by British and American Writers of African Descent
  • 8:137 African-American Autobiography
  • 8:163 Identity and Social Issues: Harlem Renaissance
  • 8:450 Seminar in American Literature: Race and Racism in Popular Texts