LIT 2030          Ken Harmon
African-American Literature        [email protected]
MW 11:40-1:35,  ACAD 432                         Office:  Gateway Center, Suite 530
4.5 Credit Hours                                         Office Hours:  MW 1:40-2:40         
Contact Hours:  45 Lecture Hours                                     & by appointment
Spring 2020                                                  Office Phone:  (980) 598-3218         
                                                                     Prerequisite:  ENG 1021 or ENG 1024       

Welcome to African-American Literature!

This course examines African-American literature in a variety of genres from its conception in the days of slavery to contemporary times. Emphasis is on the historical and social significance of major works of African-American literature as well as the unique artistic contributions of African-American authors to the American literature canon. Literary movements are examined in their historical, political, intellectual and social contexts through a number of contemporary theoretical perspectives. 

Required Texts:  
 Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. Vintage International Reprint, 2007. ISBN:  

Butler, Octavia.  Kindred. Beacon Press, 2003. ISBN: 978-0807083697

Parks, Suzan-Lori. Topdog/Underdog. Theatre Communications Group; 1st edition (June 1, 2001). ISBN: 978-1559362016

Recommended Items:  

A laptop, a tablet (such as an Ipad), and/or a smart phone.  You should bring one of these items to class every day.   These will be used to complete in-class course work such as blogging, electronic quizzes, etc



To successfully complete LIT 2030, students should be able to:

(1) To begin to understand the critical uses of the narrative forms of oral traditions, signifying, folklore, and music in making African American literature a unique literary model.

(3) To understand the theoretical concepts of race, racism and racialization as they inform the creation of an ethnic literature.

(4) To examine the critical connections between historical eras and events and the formation of narrative.

(5) To begin to understand the unique aspects of African American literary theory.

(6) To understand how racial and ethnic groups have resisted and struggled to recreate their own cultural identities in relations to each other and dominant white groups, leading to both conflict and community empowerment

(7) Develop a critical understanding of ethnic identity and racial identity and how it is constructed and reconstructed by individuals and groups over time and different contexts.

( 8 ) Develop and sharpen critical communication skills through the facilitation of discussions and writing skills through essay assignments.This course is a university designated writing intensive course and emphasizes the development of critical writing skills. 


1.Write electronic reader responses of about a page or so for many of the assigned readings (one-two per week, but no more than 10 for the semester).  See “Reader Response Guidelines” on class website for more information. These will be posted electronically to discussion boards in Blackboard and will require that you respond to the postings of other students as well.
2.Participate actively in class discussions (to include group informal presentations or discussion leadership).
3.Write two literary critical anlaysis essays in the range 4-6  pages each, typed, double-spaced, 12pt. font, Times New Roman, and following the Modern Language Association (MLA) style format and documentation (as necessary). [See “Essay Writing Guidelines,” on class website for more information]
4.  Complete a midterm and final exam.

The ideas contained in your papers should belong to you and only you.  Outside sources other than those found in our texts should not be used.  I will not accept a paper that is not accompanied by a series of rough drafts (each draft should be numbered) and invention work.  Papers that do not follow these guidelines will receive a grade of zero.

You must complete ALL major assignments in order to pass the course.


Class Participation (37.5%)
Blog Posts                                        20      (10%) ([email protected] points each)
Reading Quizzes                             85      (12.5%) ([email protected] points each)
Reader Responses                           30       (10%) (6 @ 5 points)
Flipgrid Responses                         15       (3 @ 5points each)

Essays (65%)
Midterm Presentation                    80 (20%)
Topic Proposal Drama Analysis    10 (2.5%)
Drama Analysis (Group)                60 (15%)
Final Presentation/Paper            100 (25%)

                                                                     Final Grades:
                                                                             360 - 400     A
                                                                             320 - 359     B
                                                                             280 - 319     C
                                                                             240 - 279     D
                                                                                 0 - 239     F


Taking classes is your job here at the university. Thus, you should treat the work and requirements accordingly. In the workplace things such as absences, tardiness, and not doing your work properly have negative consequences. This is the case in my class as well. Many students’ low grades are a result of not following directions or policies as well as not expending enough effort. It is your responsibility to be aware of the policies on this syllabus. If you miss class it is your responsibility to check with your classmates to find out what you have missed. And though you are always welcome to follow up with me if you are absent, do not ask me if you “missed anything important.”

Your grade is dependent on a number of factors that, together and holistically, inform the evaluation and assessment of your performance. In summary, these criteria include attendance, participation, reading responses, discussion questions, midterm, a presentation, and the successful completion of any other reading and written assignments.

Note: As this is a literature course, the reading load is quite heavy and the pace fast. Also, because writing is a means of discovery and a pathway to understanding, it is an important activity in this class in conjunction with the reading. Indeed, you should think of your writing as a mode of reading that will help you begin to understand the literature at hand. When essays, journals, and in-class assignments are considered together you will be doing some kind of writing assignment every week. Be prepared to spend much time carefully reading, considering, discussing, and writing about the texts in the course. If you cannot devote the time necessary to keep up with the assignments, and to do so in a critical manner, you will not do well in this class and may want to consider if this is the right class for you.

PLAGIARISM:  All course assignments ask you to write using what you have learned in the course and using your own thinking and writing skills.  If you use any ideas, paraphrases, or exact wording from a source other than yourself (including the textbook), you must document the source using MLA parenthetical documentation style (see handbook or ask instructor).  Any source used but not documented will be considered plagiarism, for which you will receive a failing grade for the course.  You might also be placed on probation or expelled from the university.  If you have any questions about plagiarism, ask before you act.  Ask me; see pp. 614-617 in our textbook, The Bedford Guide for College Writers, and/or “Academic Policies” in the Student Handbook. 


A. Plagiarism, a SERIOUS, academic violation, which can lead to an F for the course, is the use of WORDS, IDEAS, or STRUCTURES of others (published sources, friends, relatives) without acknowledgment.  There is no excuse for willful plagiarism.
B.  Except where appropriate (quoting or paraphrasing from primary or secondary sources), your work is presumed to be totally your own writing (i.e. original).
C.  When you QUOTE OR PARAPHRASE FROM ANY sources, you MUST cite them with appropriate specific documentation (usually author and page number in parentheses + Works Cited list at end).  This includes subject matter of the essay.  If you quote or paraphrase precisely from a work of literature, you must cite the author of that work.  
D.  If you do not understand the format for documenting sources, see me for help before turning in an essay.  Refer to your handbook for further clarification.
For other questions about plagiarism see
and see attached handout.

TURNITIN.COM:  All major essays written for this course must be submitted electronically to no later than classtime on the date that an assignment is due.  Essays that are not uploaded to will not be accepted. 

SMARTTHINKING TUTOR:  Students are required to submit each draft of an essay assignment to the Smartthinking tutor a total of two times per essay for feedback and are expected to use that information to revise each essay assignment.   If a student fails to do so, they will lose one letter grade per each assignment not submitted to the tutor.  See the SmartThinking link in Ulearn for submission details.

SUBMITTING COURSE ASSIGNMENTS:  You are required to electronically submit all assignments to Ulearn or a blog for this course.  Assignments not submitted in the manner will not be accepted.  Any items sent by email will be deleted.

ATTENDANCE:   Students are expected to attend all classes and earn credit for complete classes and in-class assignments.  You are allowed two absences (excused or unexcused) without penalty. Five absences (excused or unexcused) will result in automatic failure.  If you do not attend a student conference, you will be considered absent.  After two absences your final grade for the semester will be reduced as shown.
You are responsible for tracking your absences.  Missed class work cannot be made up.

AbsencesPoints deducted from final grade



TARDIES:  If a student is more than 10 minutes late for class or leaves more than 10 minutes before class is over, they are counted absent for the day. 

ETIQUETTE:  Students are expected to respect their classmates’ time and learning environment.  Therefore, show up for class prepared and on time.  Turn off all cell phones before entering the classroom.   THEY SHOULD NOT BE VISIBLE TO ME OR IN YOUR HAND AT ANY TIME.  Keep them stored away at all times.  Each time a cell phone disrupts class or a student is caught texting, the entire class will take a pop quiz and the student caught texting will be asked to leave the classroom for the day.  Also, if a student leaves the classroom to answer a call, they will be counted absent for the day and not allowed back in the classroom that day.  Other disruptive classroom behavior, defined as anything that would interfere with “an instructor’s ability to conduct the class” or “The ability of other students to profit from the instructional program,” is strictly prohibited.

WARNING:  This class relies on the participation of the students. As such, we will engage in many lively discussions. Emphasizing collaboration and dialogue, conversation and debate, we, as an intellectual community, will engage one another in meaningful and challenging ways while we explore the varied perspectives that each of us bring to bear on class discussions. Hence, various opinions will be expressed and espoused. I ask that you be respectful of my opinions and those of your peers. In other words, refrain from rude and negative comments, for they will not be tolerated. We should be constantly vigilant that our contributions, opinions, and responses, while intellectually critical, are respectful of the differences in position, perspective, and experience we all have. If your beliefs are so strong that you cannot tolerate the opinions of others, please begin to practice tolerance now, or choose another class. People can disagree without being disrespectful.


NOTE:  Persons other than registered students are not allowed to attend academic sessions, laboratory classes, computer labs, and other University academically supported areas.

LATE PAPER/ASSIGNMENT POLICY:  Turn in all your assignments on their scheduled due dates.  You must submit all essays and required materials in a 2-pocket folder (final draft, reflection, rough draft, workshop sheets, revision plans, photocopies of sources, collecting notes, and relevant journal entries).  NO PROCESS, NO GRADE.  Keep a duplicate copy of all assignments you turn in.  I DO NOT ACCEPT LATE PAPERS.  

REVISION:  You may rewrite the first essay if the original grade is D or F; the rewritten essay may receive no higher than a “C.”  Revisions must accompany the original graded copy

STUDENT E-MAIL:  Students are required to obtain and use a JWU e-mail account for University communication and to access my public folders.  You must obtain your password to do so.  Student accounts are created automatically for those who are active and in good standing.  Student email addresses are available through uconnect at  A student email address is [email protected].  Students should go to to logon and access their email.  Immediately contact the helpdesk at 1-866-598-4357 if you need assistance.  Take care of this the first day of class.  Students are expected to maintain an email account throughout the semester and check it daily for important information regarding upcoming assignments, course announcements, etc.

IN-CLASS ASSIGNMENTS:  Students will often complete in-class assignments, exams, and short writing projects.  In-class projects, exams, and quizzes are scheduled for a specific class period and cannot be made up after that class date.

WORKSHOPS:  All essays will be critiqued by peer groups in class.  Essays without workshop response will drop one full letter grade.

PARTICIPATION:  Come to class prepared to discuss the assigned readings. Contribute productively to discussion.  Quizzes and in-class writings are usually based on the readings.


WRITING CENTER:  Located in the academic building, 4th floor, the writing center is open to all Johnson & Wales University  students who need help with writing, whether they are taking an English course or not. Students are encouraged to seek assistance with essays, research projects, and related assignments.  Students are asked to make an appointment with a Writing Center staff member in order to receive prompt assistance.  The center provides 30 minute appointments and is staffed from 8:30-2:30 M-R.  Consultants work with students on any part of the writing process -- planning, drafting, focusing, organizing, revising, or editing, and with papers from all disciplines. Please do not hesitate to use the tutor’s assistance.  Remember to bring a copy of your assignment and your drafts to any Writing Center conference.
Going to the Writing Center does not guarantee you a good grade because tutors will not proofread your papers.  The Writing Center’s goal is to improve your overall writing skills (organization, thesis & supporting paragraphs, audience/assignment issues, as well as teaching punctuation and grammar rules after reviewing big picture issues), which sometimes takes several sessions, depending on your existing writing skills.  For more information, you may contact them at [email protected]
You may also visit the Center for Academic Support website at:

ACCOMODATIONS:  Johnson & Wales University is dedicated to providing access to education. While maintaining the highest academic integrity, the University strives to balance scholarship with support services which will assist special needs students in functioning in the University's academic environment. Reasonable accommodations are available with proper documentation, and can be discussed with the director of The Center For Academic Support (4th floor of the Academic Building).
Because some programs of study have technical standards and requirements, applicants and students with special needs or physical disabilities should contact the director of the Center for Academic Support to discuss the availability of reasonable accommodations where appropriate. Copies of the technical standards applicable to various programs are available from this office.  Once you have arranged accommodations with this office, please tell me so that I am aware of your accommodations well before the first paper/assignment.