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AAS 267  African American Literature

Professor Anne Rice

Lehman College, CUNY

This experience of a whole race beginning to go to school for the first time, presents one of the most interesting studies that has ever occurred in connection with the development of any race. Few people who were not right in the midst of the scenes can form any exact idea of the intense desire which the people of my race showed for an education. As I have stated, it was a whole race trying to go to school. Few were too young, and none too old, to make the attempt to learn. As fast as any kind of teachers could be secured, not only were day-schools filled, but night-schools as well. The great ambition of the older people was to try to learn to read the Bible before they died. With this end in view, men and women who were fifty or seventy-five years old would often be found in the night-school. Sunday-schools were formed soon after freedom, but the principal book studied in the Sunday-school was the spelling-book. Day-school, night-school, Sunday-school, were always crowded, and often many had to be turned away for want of room.” 

   —  Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery (1901)

 Course Description and Objectives:

 AAS 267, African American Literature, is a survey course that will take us from the early days of enslavement to the present.  We will read, analyze, and discuss literary texts written by African Americans, paying particular attention to the political, historical and social context that informs these texts.