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Literature & Social Justice Course Spotlights

The English Department regularly offers courses that give students the opportunity to think about the intersection of literature and social justice, such as these courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level: 

English 291: Black Writing, Black Voices: A Fiction Writing Workshop (Professor Stephanie Powell Watts)
In this course we read selections, stories, and novels from canonical writers (James Baldwin, Nella Larsen, and Zora Neale Hurston) as well as new classics from writers such as Jesmyn Ward, Zadie Smith, Raven Leilani, and Colson Whitehead. This class is primarily a writing course, however, with a focus on craft in workshops and discussions of student work.  

English 391: Race, Gender, Slavery and Freedom in Eighteenth-Century British Literature (Professor Lyndon Dominique)
This course is concerned with occasions in literature where British writers combined simultaneous discourses about race and gender in ways that sometimes helped and at other times hindered the battles against tyranny fought by African slaves and women’s rights advocates. 

English 477: The Harlem Renaissance (Professor Seth Moglen)
This course explores the extraordinary flowering of African American literary, artistic and political life in the early 20th century. We study masterpieces of African American literature, music, visual art, and political imagination, and we consider how artists and activists represented the diversity of black life in America and reimagined race relations during the Jim Crow era. 

ENGL 491: Critical Autism Studies: Neurodiversity, Language, and Literature (Professor Kate Crassons)

Studying both the history of Autism Spectrum Disorder as a diagnosis and the rise of the neurodiversity movement, this course explores how questions about autism are inextricably linked to questions about language, representation, and interpretative ethics.  Why do we value characteristics like digressiveness, abstraction, and monologue in our favorite novels, poems, and plays, but pathologize these modes of speaking in autistic people? How might literary texts shed light on autistic subjectivities?