African American Literature - Schoolhouse Teachers

African American Literature

**Available with Ultimate Membership Only**

Length: 18 Weekly Lessons
Includes: Lessons and Assignments
Age/Grade: High School

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How to Use This Course

This is an advanced high school literature course for students wishing to explore African American literature from the time of the North American slave narratives to modern plays and playwrights. Students will engage in a variety of learning through various audio/visual resources and multi-media technologies designed to cultivate an understanding of the themes of African American literature. Each student will record his or her experience with the course materials in a creative journal. If this course is taken in full, completing all reading assignments and written assignments, the course is worth a minimum of .5 language arts credit. If the student explores this course in depth and spends approximately 180 hours completing this course (two hours per day for eighteen weeks or one hour per day for thirty-six weeks), it is worth one high school credit in language arts. As always, please check your own state’s academic requirements.

Course Introduction

This course will explore the literary traditions of African American literature through poetry, short stories, essays, drama, journals, and other written forms. Students will engage in a variety of learning through various audio/visual resources and multi-media technologies designed to cultivate an understanding of the themes of African American literature. Moreover, each student will record his or her experience with the course materials in a creative journal, a project that will be limited only by the imaginative faculties of the individual student.

Please note: a wide variety of works will be studied in this course. Parents are encouraged to explore the course before sharing it with their students, as not all topics in all readings are suitable for all students.

Printable weekly lessons with reading and journaling assignments.

  • Unit 1: Oral Traditions and Spirituals: This will be a chance for us to explore song lyrics. These types of songs were often sung by slaves as they worked the fields. We’ll also look at works by Joel Chandler Harris and Paul Laurence Dunbar.
  • Unit 2: North American Slave Narratives: This will be the longest unit in our study because of the great importance of slave narratives as a genre and the impact these narratives had on the course of a nation. We’ll look at works by Hannah Valentine, John Boston, Spotswood Rice, William W. Brown, David Walker, John Day, Frederick Douglass, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Henry “Box” Brown, and Phillis Wheatley. 
  • Unit 3: Reconstruction to New Negro Renaissance Movement, 1865-1919: The years after the Civil War extending to the first decade of the twentieth century were a period when the imperative of racial uplift sometimes conflicted with the artist’s desire to develop as an individual. We’ll look at works by Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. 
  • Unit 4: Harlem Renaissance: The Harlem Renaissance is the name given to the art period of the 1920s. This period not only included literature, but other works of art as well. We’ll look at works by Claude McKay, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer, and Langston Hughes.
  • Unit 5: Modernism and the Civil Rights Era, 1940s-1960s: After World War II, African Americans who served their country came home to a world that still did not accept them as equal. The authors of this period struggled to make a place for themselves as Americans, seeking equality in all areas of life, yet not lose their cultural identity. We’ll look at works by Robert Hayden, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Gwendolyn Brooks.
  • Unit 6: The Black Arts Movement, 1960-1975: Artists of the Black Arts movement, even while they criticized the aesthetic aims of the movement as a whole, were moved by continuing injustices to be politically active in their art. We’ll look at works by Etheridge Knight, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, and Alice Walker.
  • Unit 7: Contemporary: The struggles of communities to overcome drug epidemics, HIV, and continued racism are the focal point of many contemporary African American authors. In this unit, we’ll focus on a piece by Maya Angelou.

If this course is taken in full, completing all reading assignments and written assignments, the course is worth a minimum of .5 language arts credit. If the student explores this course in depth and spends approximately 180 hours completing this course (two hours per day for eighteen weeks or one hour per day for thirty-six weeks), it is worth one high school credit in language arts. As always, please check your own state’s academic requirements.

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