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ENG 225: African American Literature - Gray

ENG 225 African American Literature

Professor Rhonda Gray

Tayari Jones      Octavia Raheem

              Tayari Jones                                Octavia Raheem

   Tracee Stanley        

 Tracee Stanley                                Lama Rod Owens

Finding Internal Liberation for External Limitations: African American Literature as a Repository of Wellness and Hope  

“The African American Experience” is often aligned with physical, psychological and spiritual degradation, economic destitution, and social calamity framed within ongoing cycles of violence. It is within this deficit perspective that African American literature is often discussed by its critics. Who is the oppressor and the oppressed? How bad are the characters’ lives and what acts of violence must they endure? Of course, many African American writers utilize their craft to envision a life that attempts to overcome hardships through characters that are infused with confidence, hope, curiosity, and love. Literary critics will likely feature the characters’ unique identity and circumstances that allowed them to prevail amidst racial terrorism. We will deepen our understanding of the characters’ resilience by reflecting on how they engage in wellness practices to support themselves and their communities in light of structural racism. The foundational framework to analyze the literature will be based on Margaret Swarbrick’s “A Wellness Approach” (2006) along with approaches to wellness shared by contemporary African American thought leaders within the fields of wellness, psychology, cultural criticism, and history. Engaging wellness as a focus of analysis provides an opportunity to celebrate the humanity and creative intelligence of African American writers as well as our own human drive to achieve happiness and freedom in life.