Proseminar: Questions of Social Justice in African American Non-Fiction

  • Teaching


    Faculty Faculty of Humanities
    Domain English
    Code UE-L06.01161
    Languages English
    Type of lesson Proseminar
    Level Bachelor
    Semester SA-2021

    Schedules and rooms

    Summary schedule Monday 10:15 - 12:00, Hebdomadaire, MIS 02, Room 2122



    In a time when it has become impossible to speak about the United States of America without mentioning civil unrest, insurrection, extreme polarization, and social injustice, it is more important than ever to ensure that all American voices be heard. This class seeks to give Black Lives their breath back by discussing works of non-fiction which were written by, for, and about African Americans. From the middle passage to the great migration, from slavery to Jim Crow laws, and from emancipation to presidency, this proseminar will be dedicated to the minority whose voice has been silenced for centuries.

    With the help of insightful texts by Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Jabari Asim, we will learn about the history of African Americans and will discuss the future of racism in America. We will also engage with questions of racism in literature and other forms of art through group presentations or debates.

    Important Note

    This class will broach sensitive subject matters. It is thus crucial for the students who sign up to be prepared to encounter troublesome events and harsh language in the works we will study together. It will also be of paramount importance for students to carefully choose their words and arguments throughout – and beyond – the course of the semester. Our classroom needs to remain a space in which participants can safely exchange thoughts and ideas that reflect their respect for each other as well as for the questions that will be discussed. I reserve the right to moderate, and, if I see fit, to dismiss participants who would fail to follow these guidelines.


    You will have the possibility of signing up for two grades: one for the class (3ECTS) and one for the paper (3ECTS). The grade for the class will be a combination of your participation in class (1/3) and your presentation (2/3).

    Training objectives

    At the end of the semester, you will:

    • Have learned about the history of colonialism and the circumstances of African Americans in post-colonial America.
    • Be able to appreciate African-American nonfiction in light of your newly-acquired historical knowledge.
    • Have been exposed to the adequate vocabulary and attitude to talk about sensitive matters in a kind, coherent manner. 
    • Be prepared to keep developing the arguments that have emerged from your group presentation and take part in the large conversation on racism in the U.S. that is going on beyond our classroom.
    • (If you are a BALET student and your program requires 6 ECTS), you will be ready to write a Proseminar paper on one of the questions raised during the semester.
    Off field




    • Zora Neale Hurston, Barracoon
    • James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son
    • Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
    • Jabari Asim, We Can’t Breathe
    • Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark and The Source of Self-Regard (excerpts will be available on Moodle/Teams, no need to purchase them)
  • Dates and rooms
    Date Hour Type of lesson Place
    20.09.2021 10:15 - 12:00 Cours MIS 02, Room 2122
    27.09.2021 10:15 - 12:00 Cours MIS 02, Room 2122
    04.10.2021 10:15 - 12:00 Cours MIS 02, Room 2122
    11.10.2021 10:15 - 12:00 Cours MIS 02, Room 2122
    18.10.2021 10:15 - 12:00 Cours MIS 02, Room 2122
    25.10.2021 10:15 - 12:00 Cours MIS 02, Room 2122
    08.11.2021 10:15 - 12:00 Cours MIS 02, Room 2122
    22.11.2021 10:15 - 12:00 Cours MIS 02, Room 2122
    29.11.2021 10:15 - 12:00 Cours MIS 02, Room 2122
    06.12.2021 10:15 - 12:00 Cours MIS 02, Room 2122
    13.12.2021 10:15 - 12:00 Cours MIS 02, Room 2122
    20.12.2021 10:15 - 12:00 Cours MIS 02, Room 2122
  • Assessments methods

    Séminaire - Outside session

    Assessments methods By rating, By success/failure
  • Assignment
    Valid for the following curricula:
    English Language and Literature 120
    Version: SA15_BA_ang_V02
    Module Seven: Advanced Research and Writing
    Module Five: Culture & Identity

    English Language and Literature 50
    Version: SA15_BASI_ang_V01
    Module 01: English and American Literature

    English Language and Literature 60
    Version: SA15_BA_ang_V01
    Theory and Texte or Culture and Identity > Module Five: Culture & Identity

    Ens. compl. en Lettres
    Version: ens_compl_lettres

    Lettres [Cours]
    Version: Lettres_v01