HS Race and Recognition in American Literature



Zeit/Ort n.V.:

  • Mi 12:15-13:45, Raum C 301

Voraussetzungen / Organisatorisches

Das HS Culture kann wie folgt verwendet werden:

  • BA English and American Studies (neu): "Hauptmodul A Culture" mit begleitender Independent Study Group (Zulassungsvoraussetzung: Zwischenmodul II)

  • BA American Studies: "Hauptmodul A Literature/Culture" mit begleitender Independent Study Group (Zulassungsvoraussetzung: Zwischenmodul II)

  • MA North American Studies - Culture and Literature: Mastermodul 4,7

  • MA The Americas / Las Américas: Modul 3b,4

  • MA English Studies: "Freie Ergänzungsstudien/Wild Card": Wie Aufbaumodul, mit begleitendem Kurs


At the present time, we often hear claims that the United States is riven by intractable divisions of race, class, and gender. The literature of the country has long reflected the conflicts and questions arising from such divisions, and has much to teach us about their historical foundations and development. Above all, literature succeeds in staging a process of recognition, empowerment, and critique. Proponents of the reform and protest movements of nineteenth- and twentieth-century America were aware that the "inalienable Rights" of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" announced by the Declaration of Independence had not from the beginning been envisaged for all Americans, but for a white, propertied, male ruling class. In this seminar, we will read a selection of texts from contemporary American literature that propose a struggle with this uneasy foundation, manifesting kinds of social, psychological, and stylistic predicaments imposed by exclusion and persecution. Our central question will concern the ways in which authors reestablish a sense of belonging and collectivity through the act of writing. We will also look at the way in which contemporary literature connects with and revises a sense of tradition, and generates new traditions and affiliations. Above all, our goal will be to understand the fraught, creative dynamics of "belonging" in America, a country that, as Herman Melville once contended "contradicts all prior notions of human things."

Empfohlene Literatur

Ta-Nehisi Coates. |Between the World and Me| (2015). Claudia Rankine. |Citizen: An American Lyric| (2014). Celeste Ng. |Little Fires Everywhere| (2017). Dionne Brand. |What We All Long For| (2005). Any edition of the above texts is fine.