Feb 02, 2023  
2023 January Term Course Catalog 
2023 January Term Course Catalog
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JAN 105 - The Neo-Slave Narrative in Word and Film

Upper division
Full credit
MTuThF, 9:15 AM - 11:50 AM

Inspired by the slave narratives of the Black Atlantic, the first neo-slave narratives that emerged in the twentieth century returned to the scene of slavery by offering new accounts of the journey from enslavement to freedom. Following in the tradition of the slave narrative, contemporary writers and filmmakers have found in the neo-slave narrative a way to tell the untold stories of the millions of slaves who toiled on American soil and a means of confronting the legacy of American slavery. 

We will begin by reading the narratives of former slaves who established the genre of the slave narrative within the constraints of the nineteenth-century literary establishment. We will then turn to contemporary neo-slave narratives that both return to and reinvent the genre of the slave narrative: author Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad, director Barry Jenkins’s award-winning series based on Whitehead’s novel, and director Steve McQueen’s Oscar-winning film adaptation of Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave. Our work will be guided by the questions that have been prompted by the resurgence of the slave narrative in American literature and film. What is the function of the neo-slave narrative in the American imagination? What silences, contradictions and questions do neo-slave narratives attempt to address that slave narratives left unanswered and unresolved? And what can neo-slave narratives tell us about ourselves and our own moment in American history? Please join us as we investigate these and other questions. 

Please note: The readings and films of this course contain scenes of racial terror and violence. Students who enroll in this course should be prepared to confront and analyze such scenes and their impact on readers and viewers.


Core Designations: American Diversity and The Common Good

Instructor(s): Kathryn Koo
Email:  kkoo@stmarys-ca.edu

Prerequisites & Notes
Prerequisites:  ENG 5/108 and SEM 001/102
Course Fee:  20

Credits: 1

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