(Formerly English 43/143). In his bold study, What Was African American Literature?, Kenneth Warren defines African American literature as a late nineteenth- to mid-twentieth-century response to the nation's Jim Crow segregated order. But in the aftermath of the Jim Crow era and the Civil Rights movement, can critics still speak, coherently, of "African American literature"? And how does this political conception of African American literary production compare with accounts grounded in black language and culture? Taking up Warren's intervention, this course will explore African American literature from its earliest manifestations in the spirituals and slave narratives to texts composed at the height of desegregation and decolonization struggles at mid-century and beyond.