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    Vassar College
  Feb 21, 2018
Catalogue 2017-2018
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ENGL 319 - Race and its Metaphors

Semester Offered: Fall
1 unit(s)

(Same as AFRS 319 ) Re-examinations of canonical literature in order to discover how race is either explicitly addressed by or implicitly enabling to the texts. Does racial difference, whether or not overtly expressed, prove a useful literary tool? The focus of the course varies from year to year.

Topic for 2017/18a: “Blacks and Blues: Blues as Metaphor in African American Literature”  Ralph Ellison wrote of the blues that it is “an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one’s aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism.” This course takes the blues as a metaphor and follows it through canonical African American writing to consider multiple themes: black sonics, black vernacular traditions, sexuality and freedom, social critique, joy, pain, and futurities of blackness. Students interested in this course need not have a musical background, but interest in the links between sound and black literature is expected. Eve Dunbar.      

One 2-hour period.

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