EN3AS-The African-American Short Story

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: English Part 1 or A-Level (A*, A or B)
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Nicole King

Email: n.king2@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
In this module, we will undertake a critical study of short stories by African American writers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Our dual focus will be on the short story form alongside the thematic and stylistic diversity demonstrated by authors such as Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Alice Walker, Ralph Ellison and Percival Everett. Our work will be to analyse African American literature within varied social, political and artistic contexts such as the Harlem Renaissance and the current ‘Age of Obama.’ We will examine debates about creative expression, identities, and ‘race’ that are central to, and contested by writers as we trace the development and the art of the African American short story.

This module is designed to provide students with knowledge and critical understanding of selected African American writers and short stories. This module will also introduce students to key theoretical and critical debates concerning the production of short fiction within rubrics of racial and national identity formations. Students will be encouraged to examine the aesthetic and cultural representations of the selected short stories as a part of broader American and black diasporic historical and cultural contexts.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module the students will be expected to:
•demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a range of African American short stories
•exercise skills of close, textual analysis
•have an awareness of relevant historical and intellectual contexts
•engage critically with ideas and materials discussed in seminars and in secondary materials
•show an awareness of theoretical issues that are central to the study of African American short stories
•carry out independent research
•construct and express coherent critical arguments in writing.

Additional outcomes:
Oral and written communication skills will be developed, together with critical, interpretative and analytical abilities. Students will also enhance their IT competence through the use of relevant web resources in a critically informed manner.

Outline content:
The short stories studied on this module will include canonical authors such as James Baldwin, Ann Petry and Richard Wright, as well as less well-known authors such as Z.Z. Packer, Reginald McKnight and Andrea Lee. Texts to be studied may be drawn from a list including Hughes, ‘Home’; Baldwin, ‘Sonny’s Blues’; Wright, ‘Big Boy Leaves Home’; Petry,‘Like a Winding Sheet’; Ralph Ellison, ‘Flying Home’; Alice Walker, ‘Every Day Use’; John Edgar Wideman, ‘Fever’; Octavia Butler, ‘Bloodchild’; Reginald McKnight, ‘White Boys’; Percival Everett, ‘Randall, Randall’; Andrea Lee, ‘The Golden Chariot’; Toni Morrison, ‘Recitatif’; Z.Z, Packer, ‘The Ant of the Self.’ Others authors who may be studied include Toni Cade Bambara, James Alan McPherson, Gloria Naylor, Paule Marhsall, and Zora Neale Hurston.

This module will expand and/or complement students’ other 2nd and 3rd year studies of American literature and culture.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Three seminar hours weekly, for which students are required to do preparatory reading. Students are also entitled to a half-hour tutorial on their formative written work. With the consent of the module convenor, students may also undertake a placement, through which they will learn how to apply the knowledge and skills gained in studying for this module in a professional context outside the University.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 30
Tutorials 0.5
Guided independent study 129.5 40
Total hours by term 160.00 40.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:
This module is assessed by two pieces of work: one reflective journal (50%) and one assessed essay of 2500 words (50%). Feedback will be provided on both elements of the summative assessment.

Formative assessment methods:
Formative Assessment Methods - work which provides opportunities to improve performance (e.g. through feedback provided) but which does not necessarily always contribute towards the overall module mark:

Students write one formative essay, of between 1500 and 2000 words.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of at least 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August. Coursework will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Otherwise it must be resubmitted by 22 August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 21 December 2016

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