Thursday, September 26, 2013

Our Underground Minor in African American Literature at SIUE

Underground legends, Dometi Pongo and Kacee Aldridge at book sale in December 2011.

Everyone in that African American literature course two semesters ago admired the sister who sat up front, the one who answered the questions about authors and cultural history when no one else in the class knew the answers. That was Ashley. She impressed students in the classes the way Caleb did. And Caleb and Ashley were impressive to their peers the way Kacee was before them. And she was impressive in a way that Dometi had been. 

[Related: An underground curriculum in the study of black poetry]

On their own, those four were impressive, no doubt. But one reason they stood out in classes and one quality they shared was that they, and a few others, had all, at some point, taken 3 or more African American literature courses here at SIUE.

One of the advantages of us offering so many African American literature courses over the last 10 years has been our ability to reach so many non-English majors. Some of the students we've seen repeatedly taking our courses were black studies minors, but many of them were not. They just enjoyed taking black-related classes, and the English department happens to offer the widest array.

Our designated African American literature courses:
ENG 205: Introduction to African American Texts
ENG 341: African American Women's Writing
ENG 342: Movement's in African American Literature
ENG 343: Topics in African American Rhetoric and Oratory
ENG 345: Topics in African American Poetry and Folklore
ENG 446: Studies in African American Literature
ENG 477: Toni Morrison
In addition to those courses, we have regularly remixed general courses and cast them as African American literature classes, including ENG 111: Introduction to Literature; Univ. 112: First-year orientation; and on at least two occasions, ENG 497: Senior Seminar.  

Thus, students interested in the field have been fashioning what we refer to as our "underground" minor. They've taken enough classes to constitute a minor though none exists, not yet at least.

10 Years of African American Literature at SIUE  

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