Over the past year, I have been thinking about a project that I want to eventually work on. The project involves examining African American texts from the 1960s and 1970s that center on interracial relationships. I chose this time period because the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia; however, even forty years later, racist individuals still disapproved of interracial relationships. In 2009, Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell refused to marry an interracial couple in Tangipahoa Parish, LA. After my most recent post Black Perspectives post, “Interracial Intimacy and Film as Social Commentary,” I’ve decided to share a perspective syllabus on interracial intimacy and African American literature.
Every semester, I discuss how American authors sought to carve out their space in a early-nineteenth century world that countered European cultural and artistic influence. As we read throughout the semester, we encounter numerous authors who either explicitly or indirectly address the question, “How do we construct a distinctly American literature?” For me, this topic arises from the outset of the semester due to the way I structure my course, around conversations and non-chronologically. Today, I want to briefly write about some of the myriad ways that the question of constructing a distinctly American literature must infuse itself into any broad discussion of American literature from the colonial era through the mid-nineteenth century. (Even though I do not move chronologically in my course, I will for this post.)
Occasionally, I post syllabi ideas here on the blog. Today, I want to share a syllabus I have been thinking about recently entitled “African American Literature and the American South.” The South, as a geographic and imaginary space, looms large in the works of not just African American authors but in writers of all ethnic backgrounds from the United States. Maryemma Graham discusses the South’s continual pull in this manner: