Effective: Late Fall 8-Week, 2018/2019

ENGL 371: Ethnic Traditions In American Lit

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  Course Description

Study of authors and literary works belonging to a specific ethnic tradition in America literature (e.g. African American Literature, Asian American Literature, Chicana/Chicano Literature, Native American Literature).

Prerequisite: ENGL 112 and a previous 200-level or higher English course.

Proctored Exams: Final


As part of TruitionSM, students will receive their course materials automatically as described below.


  •  Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Penguin/Random House, 2004.  Physical Book
  •  Mosley, Walter. Black Betty. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002.  Physical Book

Additional Readings Online

To provide a thorough overview of African American literature you will be reading a wide range of African-American literature, including poetry, short stories and slave narratives. These selections will be in addition to the three items listed above. Links to these additional readings will be located in the course.

Bookstore Information

Visit https://www.ccis.edu/bookstore.aspx for details.

eText Information

If a course uses an eText, (see Textbook information above) the book will be available directly in Desire2Learn (D2L) and through the VitalSource eText reader the Friday before the session begins, if registered for courses prior to that date.  Students will have a VitalSource account created for them using their CougarMail email address. Upon first login to VitalSource, students may need to verify their account and update their VitalSource password.  More information about how to use the VitalSource platform, including offline access to eTexts, can be found in D2L.  Students that would like to order an optional print-on-demand copy of eligible eTexts can do so through the VitalSource bookshelf at an additional cost.  Once orders are placed, it can take approximately five to seven business days for students to receive their print-on-demand books.

Physical Course Materials Information

Students enrolled in courses that require physical materials will receive these materials automatically at the address on file with Columbia College.  Delivery date of physical materials is dependent on registration date and shipping location.  Please refer to confirmation emails sent from Ed Map for more details on shipping status.

Returns: Students who drop a course with physical course materials will be responsible for returning those items to Ed Map within 30 days of receipt of the order.  More specific information on how to do so will be included in the package received from Ed Map.  See here for Ed Map's return policy. Failure to return physical items from a dropped course will result in a charge to the student account for all unreturned items.

Note: Students who opt-out of having their books provided as part of TruitionSM are responsible for purchasing their own course materials.

  Course Overview

The class will introduce students to the black literary tradition as it appears in American literature. Students will study selected texts that demonstrate the tradition and show how it has been developed and continued from its inception to contemporary literature. The class will also teach race theory, its terminology, and how it applies to African-American literature. Key themes will be explored, along with the black literary aesthetic.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe the characteristics of an ethnic tradition in U.S. Literature
  2. Analyze multiple genres produced within an ethnic tradition in U.S. literature.
  3. Identify the historical and cultural forces influencing an ethnic tradition in U.S. literature.
  4. Discuss authors and authorial concerns within an ethnic tradition in U.S. literature.
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of the critical reception of literature belonging to an ethnic tradition in U.S. literature
  6. Write argumentatively about literary works.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 1004-1115 90-100%
B 892-1003 80-89%
C 780-891 70-79%
D 669-779 60-69%
F 0-668 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions 255 23%
Papers 660 59%
Final Exam 200 18%
Total 1115 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 1 15 Thursday
Discussion 2 15 Thusrday
Discussion 3 15 Friday

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 4 15 Friday
Discussion 5 15
Proposal 100 Sunday
Proctor Information N/A

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 6 15 Thursday
Discussion 7 15 Friday
Response Paper 100 Sunday

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 8 15 Thursday
Discussion 9 15 Friday
Annotated Bibliography 100 Sunday

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 10 15 Thursday
Discussion 11 15 Friday
Essay Draft 60 Sunday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 12 15 Thursday
Discussion 13 15 Friday

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 14 15 Thursday
Discussion 15 15 Friday
Literary Research Essay 300 Sunday

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 16 15 Thursday
Discussion 17 15 Friday
Final Exam 200 Saturday
Total Points: 1115

  Assignment Overview


Each week you will discuss questions that pertain to reading assignments. Be sure to use examples from the texts to clarify and illustrate your response. You are expected to use appropriate Standard American English in your postings.

You are expected to respond to the initial question and at least two of your classmates’ posts by the due date for each topic. Your first discussion should be completed by Thursday of each week; your second discussion should be completed by Friday.


You will write one brief response paper and a Literary Research Analysis Essay with several contributing components in this class. All papers follow MLA format and be submitted in MS Word or Open Office (no wps files please), double-spaced, 12-point font. All papers should be newly written for this class; I do not accept recycled papers.

Response Paper

You will write a short paper on race theory in week 3. I will provide you with a specific tool of “literary theory” or lens through which to view and discuss course readings. This paper should be 3-4 pages in length.

Literary Research Analysis Essay

You will select a topic and write a research paper on an African-American literary text. You will also incorporate the race theory you featured in your response paper as a tool to analyze the text. This paper should be 8-10 pages in length and contain at least 4 sources. The paper is due in Week 7. Prior to submitting your final essay, you will prepare and submit a written proposal, annotated bibliography, and a working draft of the essay. You will also receive and provide peer feedback on your draft in a weekly discussion topic. See the course schedule for individual due dates.

Final Exam

The final exam will be an essay exam. You must take it in a proctored setting. You will have 2 hours to complete it.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.


The Narrative of Frederick Douglass

Discussion 1
Post an introduction that includes where you live and why you are taking this class. Also address the issue that your instructor for the class might be white. Does that qualify the instructor to teach a class on African-American Literature? Why or why not? Due Thursday.
Discussion 2
In his narrative, Frederick Douglas makes several arguments against slavery. Choose one of the arguments, summarize it and address if you believe he argued it effectively. What made it effective or ineffective? How could the argument be revised? Cite examples from the text. Due Thursday.
Discussion 3
In his narrative, Frederick Douglas makes several arguments against slavery. Choose one of the arguments, summarize it and address if you believe he argued it effectively. What made it effective or ineffective? How could the argument be revised? Cite examples from the text. Due Thursday.

Incidents in a Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs

Discussion 4
The editor of The Norton Anthology says that in her autobiography, Jacobs "tried to do more than create sympathy for her plight; she also sought to win the respect and admiration of her readers. . . ." How does Jacobs attempt to describe her plight as well as win the respect and admiration of her readers? What descriptions and/or scenes best illustrate her narrative strategy? How does Jacob represent herself and what kind of reaction do those descriptions evoke in the reader? Cite examples from the text. Due Thursday.
Discussion 5
How does Jacobs represent race as it exists between herself and her master’s wife? What key contradictions does she show between herself and other white women? Cite examples from the text. Due Friday.
Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.

This week, you will create a 300-400 word proposal that highlights the key features in your literary research analysis essay (due in Week 7). This proposal is due Sunday. Submit it to the appropriate Dropbox in the course. Your proposal should include the following critical elements:

  1. Identify two works of African-American literature that you will analyze in your final essay. Describe your rationale for choosing them.
  2. Present the argument that will be the focus of your essay.
  3. Briefly describe your thought process that led to that argument. What do you hope to learn by writing on this topic?

Beloved, Toni Morrison, Part I.

Rao, R. M. V. Raghavendra. "Constructs Of Blackness In Toni Morrison's Playing In The Dark: Whiteness And The Literary Imagination." ICFAI Journal Of English Studies 4.1 (2009): 7-17. Humanities International Complete. Web. 16 July 2015.
Discussion 6

The novel Beloved describes Sethe’s murder and attempted murder of her children.  Was she justified in taking this action? Why or why not? Cite examples from the text. Due Thursday.

Discussion 7

How does Morrison represent black motherhood in Beloved?  How does it compare or contrast to what Jacob depicts in her narrative? Cite examples from the text. Due Friday.

Response Paper

Write a 3-4 page paper in which you look at Morrison’s view of race and writing race as described in the Raghavendra article.  How does she define American literature and black writer’s roles in creating this nation’s literature?  Do you agree with her?  Why or why not?  How do you see black literature fitting into an overall view of American literature? Due Sunday.

  • Beloved, Toni Morrison, Part II.
  • “Battle Royal” (Chapter One of Invisible Man), Ralph Ellison
Discussion 8

In Beloved, we see how women deal with racism and racial violence.  Compare/contrast the experience and cultural treatment of black women compared to the male narrator’s experiences in “Battle Royal.”  Cite examples from the texts. Due Thursday.

Discussion 9

In “Battle Royal” we see the degradation of black men.  Compare/contrast what happens to the narrator in the arena in Ellison’s story and what Frederick Douglass experiences under slavery.  How does Ellison’s narrator react to the Battle Royal event?  How does that compare/contrast with how Frederick Douglass handles his instances of dehumanization? Cite examples from the texts. Due Friday.

Annotated Bibliography

For this assignment, you will submit a 4-5 page annotated bibliography that expands the prospectus you submitted in week 2.  Due Sunday. Submit it to the appropriate Dropbox in the course. In this assignment you should:

  1. Identify a primary text on which you will write a literary analysis paper.
  2. Write a working thesis that describes the direction of your paper and the purpose of your analysis.
  3. Provide an annotated bibliography with at least 4 sources.Include:
    1. One historical text that focuses on the historical time period and/or social issue that you identified in your working thesis.
    2. Two sources that discuss a particular literary theory, like race theory, post-colonial theory, black women’s feminist theory, etc.
    3. One source from a peer-reviewed journal that discusses the specific literary work.
  4. Briefly summarize each source and explain the credibility and reliability of the source. In other words, what makes it a viable, valid scholarly source?
  5. Provide a brief explanation (1 or 2 sentences) how each secondary resource will be used to support your argument/claims.

Passing, Nella Larson

Discussion 10

The novel Passing explores the concept of “passing.”  Can you justify either Irene or Clare passing for white? Why or why not? Cite examples from the text. Due Thursday.

Discussion 11

What happens at the end of the novel, Passing?  Did Clare fall or did Irene push her?  Defend your viewpoint.  Cite examples from the text. Due Friday.

Essay Draft

Submit a 300-500 word working draft of your Critical Research Essay.  This assignment will be graded as pass/fail and is worth 60 points. The assignment needs to contain the following items to pass and receive the points allotted:

  1. An introduction that contains a clear, working thesis that provides a purpose and direction of the analysis.
  2. At least three body paragraphs that focus on three main points of analysis.
  3. The incorporation of research and the citation of sources.
  4. A conclusion that sums up the main ideas made in the analysis.
Langston Hughes:
• “Theme for English B.”
• “Let American Be America Again,”
• “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”
W.E.B. DuBois: Chapters 1 and 2, “The Souls of Black Folks”
Zora Neale Hurston: “Sanctuary”
Billie Holliday: “Strange Fruit” (video)
Discussion 12

Up to now, we have read a tradition of black literature developed from the slave narrative.  Again refer to the Raghavendra article assigned in week 3.  Explain how Toni Morrison views African-American literature.  How do the works you read this week fall into her view? How does tone, metaphor and imagery of this week’s literary work contribute to adding to the black literary tradition?  Also, address the issue of “double consciousness” that DuBois describes in his essay.  What is it and how do the black literature you have read so far contribute to their themes?  Cite examples from the texts. Due Thursday.

Discussion 13

Attach a copy of the rough draft of your Critical Research Essay for peer review. Post it as early in the week as possible to allow time for others to provide peer review comments. Post a peer review of one of your peers’ drafts.  Your review should evaluate content, use of research, and the development of ideas, with minimal grammar correction.  Please distribute your comments so that everyone in the course has feedback.  Due Friday.

Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.

Sam Cooke: “A Change is Gonna Come” (video)
Martin Luther King: “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

Discussion 14

How has the language of protest change in the literature of the 1960s from the literature you’ve read in Week 6 for the Harlem Renaissance?  Cite examples from the texts. Due Thursday.

Discussion 15

Identify a text you have read in this class that you liked.  Why did you like it?  What key racial experiences and concepts did it teach you as a reader?  Cite examples from the text. Due Friday.

Literary Research Essay

After receiving peer feedback in Discussion 13 last week, revise and finalize your Literary Research Analysis Essay. Submit the final essay to the appropriate Dropbox in the course. Due Sunday.


Black Betty, Walter Mosley

Discussion 16

Mosley’s contemporary crime novel, Black Betty, takes place in Los Angeles in the 1960s.  How does setting his novel in the 1960s inform us about racial issues that we see occurring today? Also, how do you see the concept of “double consciousness” (that W.E.B. DuBois discusses in his essay from week 6) appear in this novel?  Cite examples from the text. Due Thursday.

Discussion 17

Describe something you learned in this class that you didn’t know before.  It should be something that enhanced your understanding of African-American literature.  What authors not featured in class would you recommend your peers should explore in detail? Due Friday.

Final Exam

The Final Exam is a proctored essay exam. You will be asked to write 300-400 word essay on a provided topic. You must complete this by 11:59 pm Saturday and you will have 2 hours to take the exam.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a cumulative process that begins with the first college learning opportunity. Students are responsible for knowing the Academic Integrity policy and procedures and may not use ignorance of either as an excuse for academic misconduct. Columbia College recognizes that the vast majority of students at Columbia College maintain high ethical academic standards; however, failure to abide by the prohibitions listed herein is considered academic misconduct and may result in disciplinary action, a failing grade on the assignment, and/or a grade of "F" for the course.

Additionally, all required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Columbia College is committed to creating a learning environment that meets the needs of its diverse student body. If you anticipate or experience any barriers to learning, communicate your concerns with the instructor. In addition to speaking with the instructor, the following resources are available to ensure an opportunity to learn in an inclusive environment that values mutual respect.

  • For students with disabilities/conditions who are experiencing barriers to learning or assessment, contact the Student Accessibility Resources office at (573) 875-7626 or sar@ccis.edu to discuss a range of options to removing barriers in the course, including accommodations.
  • For students who are experiencing conflict which is impacting their educational environment, contact the Office of Student Conduct at studentconduct@ccis.edu or (573) 875-7877.
  • For students who have concerns related to discrimination or harassment based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy or parental status, please contact the Title IX Office at titleixcoordinator@ccis.edu. More information can be found at http://www.ccis.edu/policies/notice-of-non-discrimination-and-equal-opportunity.aspx

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted.

You may submit written assignments late; however, they will not be accepted if more than a week late.  For each day they are late, I will deduct 5 percent.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Technology Solutions Center, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. If you have technical problems with the VitalSource eText reader, please contact VitalSource. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.