The Black Presence in American Fiction

Subject 106-468 (2008)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2008.Search for this in the current handbookSearch for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.500
Level: Undergraduate
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2008.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: .
Prerequisites: Usually admission to the postgraduate diploma or fourth year honours in English.
Corequisites: .
Recommended Background Knowledge: .
Non Allowed Subjects: .
Core Participation Requirements: .


Anne Maxwell
Subject Overview:

In this subject students study the ways in which American writing of both the 19th and the 20th centuries has been both haunted and preoccupied by the black presence. Focusing on a range of canonical literary texts and critical articles that relate literary and artistic concerns to sociological and political developments, we will study the way that concepts of race, and in particular the subjects of slavery and the colour line have been approached by both black and white writers. But we will also examine what writers have had to say about the role of heredity, race mixing and miscegenation on the nation's health and prosperity, and on African Americans' ability to achieve equality and freedom. Finally, we will look to see how in these texts categories like gender, class, and sexuality intersect with notions of blackness. On completion of the subject students will have an appreciation and understanding of the ways that racialist concepts and ideas have influenced American fiction.

Assessment: One essay of 5000 words 100% (due at the end of the semester). All students will be required to give a class presentation in order to submit work for assessment.
Prescribed Texts: A subject reader will be available from the University Bookshop.The Souls of Black Folk (W E B Du Bois), Bantum Invisible Man (R Ellison), Penguin Passing (N Larsen), Modern Library Benito Cereno and Billy Budd (H Melville), Powells Books The Complete Short Stories (F O'Connor), Faber and Faber The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (E A Poe), Penguin Pudd'nhead Wilson and the Extraordinary Twins (M Twain), Penguin Ethan Frome and Summer (E Wharton), Houghton Mifflin Race Men; the WEB Dubois Lectures (Recommended Texts: Hazel Carby), Cambridge: Harvard UP 1998 Eugenics in American Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance (K Daylanne English), U of North Carolina Press, 2004
Recommended Texts:


Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • have the ability to critically analyse and discuss a wide range of reading materials through participation in class discussions, the reading of critical essays and the writing of a class paper and an extended scholarly essay;

  • have the ability to both develop and modify one's thinking by participating in class discussions and writing an essay that requires one to respond to literary critics ideas;

  • have the capacity for independent and targeted research as a result of preparing a class presentation and writing a scholarly essay;

  • have the capacity for creative thinking through participation in discussions and the writing of essays that apply critical and theoretical ideas to the reading and interpretation of texts;

  • have the capacity for making ethical judgements and informed political choices as a result of engaging with and discussing texts by people from different social and cultural backgrounds to oneself;

  • have the capacity for critical self awareness through participation in discussions and the reading of critical texts that acknowledge where one's ideas and assumptions come from as well as what kinds of social privileges one enjoys;

  • have the capacity for lucid and logical argument as a result of careful essay planning and writing;

  • have competency in the use of library and other information sources such as on line websites and search engines through the researching and writing of essays that require the use of these resources;

  • have the ability to organise oneself and manage one's time efficiently and effectively through the successful completion of a class paper and a written essay by the due date.

Notes: .
Related Course(s): Postgraduate Certificate in Arts (English Language)
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (English Literature)

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