This course is a seminar on Black American authors who engage the idea of myth in their fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and criticism. The writers featured are Black American in that they are of African descent and writing from the Americas. Some identify as African-American; some do not. The mythic figures these writers invoke come from folklore, religion, literature, and popular culture. We will also consider works that are attempting to elevate a story that is not available to the public consciousness to mythic proportions. We will begin by familiarizing ourselves with several ways of thinking about the impact of myth on contemporary literature. Our discussions will serve as critical foundations to which we will return each week.
We will respond to the authors works using the following questions as a guide to classroom discussions or written assignments:
(1) What is the occasion for the invocation of myth in this work?
(2) What is the nature of this invocation? Is everyday life being elevated? Is a mythic figure being brought down a peg?
(3) What is a myth? How does a particular myth or the idea of myth figure in this writers work? How does this writers work sharpen or reshape your definition of myth?
(4) What is this writers stance regarding myth? Is (s)he pro-myth, anti-myth, ambivalent? Do you see another way of thinking about his or her stance?
(5) Does the invocation of myth in this work add a raced or gendered nuance to your interpretation of it?
--Mendi Lewis Obadike
This course provides instruction in four areas of intellectual work. They include: the practice of close and engaged reading, the practice of doing scholarly research, the practice of academic argument, and the practice of making creative responses to critical concerns.
Eady, Cornelius Brutal Imagination
Gomez, Jewelle The Gilda Stories
Hopkinson, Nalo Midnight Robber
Morrison, Toni Song of Solomon
Shepherd, Reginald Angel, Interrupted
Course Pack Available at Suburban Cards and Gifts, near the movie theater.
Attendance is mandatory. More than 3 absences will negatively affect your grade.
· 2 Author Panel Pressentations 25%
· Midterm Essay (5 pages) 25%
· Final Portfolio (myth engagement, critical component and bibliography, & 2 polished reflections) 25%
· Minor Assignments and Class Participation 25%
The beauty of the classroom situation is that it is a created situation where people who might not ordinarily talk to one another (or talk to one another more than once) have repeated, engaged conversations. As such, classroom situations can open up our worlds, introduce us to earth-shattering new perspectives. However, they can also be places where we have painful, isolating experiences. Since this course will depend heavily upon our class discussions, you are expected not only to prepare for and attend class, but also to be respectful of one another, yourselves, and me.
How to Read
Make sure you are familiar with all assigned readings before you come to class. Read print materials once to get a sense of the authors meaning. Read them through again with our discussions in mind. How will you use this new information to help you form your reading practice? Remember to ask yourselves and each other the questions listed in the Course Description. Motivated students may also come to class with their own concerns and questions for the class.
You may request an extension on a paper if you contact me at least 24 hours in advance of the due date. You don't need a doctor's note; you don't need a sob story. Just be responsible enough to look at your schedule a few days in advance and know how youre doing. No extensions are given on the day that the paper is due. Late papers will affect your grade.