African-American Literature

I.     Course Prefix/Number: EGL 226

       Course Name: African-American Literature

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

EGL 101

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course introduces fiction, poetry, and drama by African-American writers from eighteenth through twentieth centuries. Content includes social, cultural, historical, and literary contexts; comparable themes in popular culture; terminology and methods of literary analysis and evaluation.

IV.   Learning Objectives

The student will be able to:
A.    Identify some of the major works and periods in African-American literature, such as slave narratives, the Harlem Renaissance, and Black Arts Movement.

B.    Explain the complexities of race, gender, nationality, and class in the African-American literary tradition. 

C.    Delineate the social, intellectual, and historical influences specific to the development of African-American literary traditions in America.

D.    Interpret the formal elements of these works, using appropriate terminology, such as: theme, conflict, figurative language, etc.

E.    Analyze works in the context of their literary, cultural, and historical backgrounds.

F.     Synthesize knowledge of genre, formal elements, and background material.

G.    Incorporate secondary sources in the analysis and interpretation of literary texts.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

Readings may be organized thematically or chronologically.  In either case, the major works and periods will be covered.

    Sample outline by chronology:

    Week 1-2: The Colonial Period
    Introduction to course and course syllabus; oral traditions
    Wheatley, Equiano
    Weeks 3-5: Antebellum and Postbellum Literature
                Douglass, Jacobs, Dunbar, Chesnutt, Washington,
    Weeks 6 -8: Harlem Renaissance
    Du Bois, McKay, Cullen, Hughes, Larsen, Hurston, Toomer

    Weeks 9-11: Protest Literature
                Wright,  Baldwin

    Weeks 12-13:Black Arts Movement
    Baraka,  Sanchez, Giovanni

    Weeks 13-15: Black Women’s Literary Renaissance
    Lorde, Walker, Morrison
    Sample outline by themes:

    Week 1
    Introduction to course and course objectives; oral traditions

    Week 2-5  Slavery and Freedom
               Wheatley, Equiano, Jacobs, Douglass, Washington

    Weeks 6-11 Double Consciousness and the African-American Experience
    DuBois, Johnson, Larsen, Ellison

    Week 12-16 Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality
    Baldwin, Wright, Walker, Morrison

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Primarily lecture and discussion of reading assignments. Guest speakers, films, and audio-visual materials may be used when appropriate.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Class will consist of lecture on and discussion of required reading assignments. Written work will include a midterm and final exam and formal essay assignments totaling 10-15 typed pages. Quizzes, group projects and/or oral assignments may also be given.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Novels, short stories, poetry and/or drama by African-American writers.  Films, audiovisual materials and/or guest lectures may be used when appropriate.
             Suggested anthology: The Norton Anthology of African-American Literature

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

In addition to exams and written/oral assignments, students will be evaluated on their active and prepared participation in class discussions and other projects.

XI.   Other Course Information

Attendance policy

For whatever information/procedures the instructor holds the student accountable.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at