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Spring 2013 Course Descriptions

English 4750  The Blues and its Literary Legacy

Section 001       CRN 31643
Studies in African-American Literature—Bluesology: The Blues and Its Literary Legacy     1830-2100 T

Ralph Ellison describes the blues as “an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically.” This course explores, through both musical and literary texts, how that vernacular expression blossoms into literary achievement. We’ll examine formative influences in work songs and narrative poems, the bawdy “toasts.” We’ll listen to blues artists from the Mississippi delta to urban Chicago, and we’ll read a variety of literary selections from Frederick Douglass and Du Bois to Amiri Baraka and Sonia Sanchez. Students will be expected to define and to develop their own extended research. Discussion (20%), short essay [3-4 pages] (15%), midterm essay examination (15%), long essay [10-12 pages] (25%) and final essay examination (25%), or grading by contract in some combination of writing and proposed projects. (Group 2)