From Frederick Douglass to James Baldwin, from W.E.B. DuBois to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Black authors have navigated a complex set of concerns around the meanings of Black racial identity in America. Black novelists, poets, and playwrights have utilized literature to make sense of the Black American experience, to reflect on the formation of a cohesive self in a world awash with anti-Black imagery, and to bring readers to greater knowledge about the country as a whole. These Black authors’ work provides a standpoint by which to consider not only questions of Blackness but of gender, class, ability, sexuality, and power and justice more broadly. This course will investigate these concerns through reading, writing, and talking about a wide range of material. Students will hone their skills as close readers as they attend to the nuances of our course texts, develop their analytical and creative voices while writing a series of argumentative and personal pieces including the junior declamation, and grow as seminarians while engaged in a collective search for meaning. Possible texts include works by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, W.E.B. DuBois, Nella Larsen, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Adrienne Kennedy, Audre Lorde, Maya Angelou, Lorraine Hansberry, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, August Wilson, Tennessee Williams, Colson Whitehead, Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.