This course aims to provide a panoramic view of African American literature, from early oral traditions through the first written and published works in the 18th century, and continuing into the era of published slave narratives and early autobiographies. From there the course follows African American literature as its production accelerates and its variety expands after Emancipation, during and after Reconstruction, into the early 20th century. Students study poetry, prose, and drama from the Harlem Renaissance (circa 1919-1934). The latter part of the course concerns literature from the Civil Rights Era, the Black Arts period of the 1960s and 1970s, and more recent decades, when African American literature, criticism, and literary theory achieved immeasurable success and generated enormous influence nationally and globally. Cultivating an informed sense of African American literature as a whole is one major objective of the course.