English 203

Graduate Readings: Coercion and Resistance in 20th-Century African American Fiction

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Fall 2005 JanMohamed, Abdul R.
JanMohamed, Abdul
TTh 12:30-2 222 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

(texts will be chosen from among the following): Wright, R.: Eight Men, The Long Dream; Walker, A.: Third Life of Grange Copeland; Morrison, T: Beloved, Jazz; Paradise; Jones, G.: Corrigedora; Gaines, E.: A Lesson Before Dying ; Wideman, J. E.: The Lynchers; Beaty, P.: White Boy Shuffle; course reader (Hip-Hop; Death Row records)


"Lying precisely at the intersection of hegemonic and violent forms of coercion as well as at the intersection of absolute power and absolute powerlessness, the threat of death (lynching, etc.) is arguably the most fundamental mode of coercion. The deployment of this mode of coercion throughout slavery and Jim Crow society has produced an anomaly: while African American literature is replete with meditations on the political economy of death, the criticism of this literature has tended on the whole to ignore these meditations. This course will examine 1) the effects of the threat of death on the formation of black subjectivity in 20th-century African-American fiction ; 2) the political economy of that threat; and 3) the different strategies for resisting this threat. The course will be particularly interested in exploring the role of death in what marxian jargon refers to as ""reproduction of the relations of production."" Students will be asked to present several oral reports and write a series of papers totaling about 20 pages. For the oral reports, students will be expected to read widely in various theoretical areas pertinent to different registers on which the threat of death can be analyzed; this reading will be available in class readers and material placed on reserve. "

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