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James Baldwin as Religious Writer and Social Critic
James Baldwin’s exile from his country and his Pentecostal heritage granted him a perspective that shape and animated his social criticism and his literary art. We will consider the nature of this twin exile, his exploration of African American life and how these shaped his understanding of religion, sex, country, and world.
(1) Active participation in classroom discussions and weekly attendance is assumed and
expected will contribute ten (10) percent to the final grade.
(2) Each student will complete six (6) response papers during the term. Response papers consist of at least one single space page where students respond to some aspect of the assigned reading. Students may choose any text assigned for the weeks that sparks their interest and reflection. Response papers will consist of twenty (20) percent of the total grade.
(3) Each student in groups no bigger than three will introduce and contextualize the novel or essay collection for the class in a fifteen-minute oral presentation. In addition, students will submit a short thousand-word essay that represents their individual perspective or take on the text. The written work and oral presentation together will be worth thirty (30) percent of the total grade. The written work will be graded individually and the oral presentation will be graded as a group.
(4) Students will complete a fifteen to twenty page term paper, which will consider some aspect of Baldwin’s oeuvre or legacy. The paper will be worth forty (40) percent of the total grade. A two page outline is due a month before the end of classes.