English 100

Junior Seminar: Coercion and Reproduction (�birth,� �death,� �love,� and �family�) in modern Black Feminist Fiction .

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2008 JanMohamed, Abdul R.
JanMohamed, Abdul
MW 12-1:30 301 Wheeler


This course is premised on the notion that the threat of death (e.g. the threat of lynching) is the most fundamental mode of coercion and that oppressive social structures like slavery and Jim Crow society are grounded on the deployment of that threat. In order to function effectively, that threat must permeate the individual and the collective subject ? the parent and child and the relationship between them that comes to constitute the ?family.? Modern Black feminist fiction provides a remarkable retrospective meditation on the different ways in which such coercion permeates the process of reproduction, the structure of the family, and the structure of individual psyches as well as on the different ways in which such coercion can and must be resisted. This course will examine the ?politics? and the meaning of birth, death, love, and family in the following texts: Nella Larsen, Quicksand and Passing; Alice Walker, The Third Life of Grange Copeland and The Color Purple; Gayl Jones, Corregidora; Toni Morrison, Beloved and A Mercy; Carolivia Herron, Thereafter Johnnie; Sherley Anne Williams, Dessa Rose; Octavia Butler, Kindred; Edwidge Danticat, The Farming of Bones.

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