TR 8:30-9:45 am
Partially fulfills cultural diversity requirement.
If the America of our patriotic imagination is, as Francis Scott Key would have it, “the land of the free,” it has also been the home of the slave. Indeed, understanding American freedom is difficult without reference to the various forms of bondage that have been captured in our classic and popular literature. From the captivity narratives of European colonials, through the landmark slave narratives produced by African American writers, to modern tales of imprisonment, impressment, and institutionalization, American writers and readers have displayed a consistent fascination with the various ways in which freedom can be denied, lost, redefined, and recovered. In this course we will explore the paradoxical literary tradition of American enslavement as a means to reflect more deeply on the nature of American freedom. We will examine classic texts but also more contemporary and popular materials, including a film script, science fiction, and several movies that draw on those earlier traditions in powerful and surprising ways. In all of our readings and discussions of these stories of bondage, we will actually be reflecting on what it means to be free.