English 133T

Topics in African American Literature and Culture: Do What You Gotta Do: The Art of Black Diaspora

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2017 Ellis, Nadia
MWF 1-2 155 Barrows African American Literature
World Literature

Book List

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi: Americanah; Baldwin, James: Go Tell it on the Mountain; Hansberry, Lorraine: A Raisin in the Sun; Head, Bessie: A Question of Power; Hurston, Zora Neale: Tell My Horse; Kay, Jackie: The Adoption Papers; Larsen, Nella: Quicksand; McCraney, Tarell Alvin: The Brother/Sister Plays; McCraney/Jenkins: Moonlight; McKay, Claude: Home to Harlem; Rankine, Claudia: Citizen

Other Readings and Media

Course Reader, with contextualizing materials, short stories, poems, and essays, will be available for purchase at Copy Central, Bancroft Avenue.

*Please consult the bCourses website before purchasing books. 


Just find that dappled dream of yours
Come on back and see me when you can

– Clarence Carter & Nina Simone & Roberta Flack, et al

The black diaspora is, of course and amongst other things, a literary tradition: a complex, internally differentiated set of texts produced by black writers located in almost every nation across the globe, equal in complexity and variation to the modern concept of race that is inextricably tied to its formation. But what conceptual framework could possibly contain such a dazzlingly various literary canon? In this class we’ll read novels, watch films, listen to music, and look at art to begin to answer that question. As the title of the course suggests, we’ll begin with a certain supposition: what happens when we think of black diasporic creativity as emerging between imperative and dream (…you gotta do); between roving and recovery (come on back...)? What, then, are the necessities of black invention; and what are its luxuries, its excesses, its pleasures? And what changes, politically, conceptually, when we attend to diasporic difference as we do to the shifts in tonality and meaning between versions of a song?

The texts for this course will be available at University Press Books, on Bancroft Way.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Spring, 2015
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
133T/1 Topics in African American Literature and Culture: Black Internationalism Lee, Steven S.

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