Universität Wien

123044 PS Literary Studies / Proseminar Literature (2021S)

Black Marxism in American Fiction: from W.E.B. Du Bois to Jesmyn Ward.

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 12 - Anglistik
Prüfungsimmanente Lehrveranstaltung

in preparation


Hinweis: Ihr Anmeldezeitpunkt innerhalb der Frist hat keine Auswirkungen auf die Platzvergabe (kein "first come, first served").


max. 25 Teilnehmer*innen
Sprache: Englisch



Vorläufig online
Montag 10:15-11:45
Beginn: 08.03.2021


Ziele, Inhalte und Methode der Lehrveranstaltung

In this course we will read examples of American fiction that focus on the interconnectedness of racism, sexism, xenophobia and capitalist exploitation. We will start by reading The Quest of the Silver Fleece (1911) by W.E.B. Du Bois, one of the most important Black intellectuals of the 20th century. Du Bois’ novel as well as the selected fictional writing by Dorothy West, Alice Childress, and Octavia Butler addresses racialized capitalist exploitation of Black and female labor. In connecting these works to each other, to other forms of poetry (for example Audre Lorde’s and Langston Hughes’) and to prose such as theoretical and political works (by Angela Davis, Michelle Alexander and others), we follow the long tradition of Black
radical thought that Cedric Robinson provocatively coined with the term Black Marxism (1983, 2000, 2021). Moreover, we look at the continuation and actualization of these writers’ approaches within the Black Lives Matter movement and its artists’ works, for example in Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017). This way we will get a deeper understanding of contemporary political struggles, for example by focusing on the connections between the prison industrial complex, the history of slavery and capitalist strivings to maximize profit.

After completing this course students will have gained an understanding of a variety of literary genres (e.g.: historic novel, science fiction novel, poetry, drama) and the basics of academic writing and research methodology. Critically engaging with the above mentioned and other texts, the students will learn basic skills of literary analysis. Moreover, they will be familiarized with the tools of intersectionality and Black feminist and critical race studies among others, and will be able to apply them in their research projects.

The students will work on a small individual research project that includes writing a research proposal with an annotated bibliography that will later progress into a final term paper on a topic of their choice related to the material covered in this course.

Art der Leistungskontrolle und erlaubte Hilfsmittel

Assessment will be based on attendance, in-class and online participation, the research proposal and a term paper.
In-class and online participation in general refers to the preparation of the primary and secondary texts, individual contributions as well as work in groups. It also includes expert sessions (each student will be assigned to one session and provide expert input (on readings, key terms) in the respective session) and written responses.

Students will be required to write a research paper of 3,500 words.

Mindestanforderungen und Beurteilungsmaßstab

- in-class and online participation (incl. expert session and written responses): 30 points
- research proposal with annotated bibliography: 20 points
- term paper: 50 points
All written assignments will be checked for plagiarism, using Turnitin on Moodle.
In order to pass this class, you need to fulfill each individual requirement!
overall score: 100 points
passing score: 60 points
grading scale:
1: 100 – 90 points
2: 89 – 80 points
3: 79 – 70 points
4: 69 – 60 points
5: 59 – 0 points
You can miss two sessions.


There will be no written exam.


Primary texts

W. E. B. Du Bois, The Quest of the Silver Fleece (1911)
Dorothy West, “Mammy” (1995)
Alice Childress, Like One of the Family (1956)
Octavia Butler, The Parable of the Sower (1993)
Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017)

The academic literature for the class will be announced in the first session.

Zuordnung im Vorlesungsverzeichnis

Studium: UF 344, BA 612; BEd 046 / 407
Code/Modul: UF 3.3.3-304; BA10.1; BEd 08a.1, BEd 08b.2
Lehrinhalt: 12-3041

Letzte Änderung: Mi 21.04.2021 11:26