African-American Literature

What follows is a list of the primary texts upon which you will be tested. The purpose of the list is to reduce the amount of material on which you will be asked direct questions to a representative and practical size. It is not to limit the depth and breadth of your reading. Obviously, reading other primary texts, historical studies, and secondary criticism is one of the best ways of preparing to discuss the content and form of at least these works, and to give some account of the place of each in its historical and critical context.


  • William Wells Brown,
  • Harriet Wilson,
    Our Nig
  • Frances Harper,
    Iola Leroy,
  • Charles Chesnutt,
    The Marrow of Tradition
    "The Goophered Grapevine"
    "The Wife of His Youth"
  • James Weldon Johnson,
    The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
  • Jessie Fauset,
    There Is Confusion
  • Jean Toomer,
  • Langston Hughes,
    The Ways of White Folks
  • Claude McKay,
    Home to Harlem
  • Wallace Thurman,
    Infants of the Spring
  • Nella Larson,
  • Zora Neale Hurston,
    Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Richard Wright,
    Uncle Tom's Children
    Native Son
  • Ann Petry,
    The Street
  • Chester Himes,
    If He Hollers let Him Go
  • Ralph Ellison,
    Invisible Man
  • James Baldwin,
    Go Tell It on the Mountain
  • Paule Marshall,
    Brown Girl, Brownstones
  • Charles Johnson,
    The Middle Passage
    "The Education of Mingo"
  • Ishmael Reed,
    Mumbo Jumbo
  • Alice Walker,
    The Color Purple
  • Toni Morrison,
    The Bluest Eye
    Song of Solomon
  • Colson Whitehead,
    The Intuitionist


  • Langston Hughes,
  • Lorraine Hansberryr,
    A Raisin in the Sun
  • James Baldwin,
    Blues for Mr. Charlie
  • Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones),
  • August Wilson,
    The Piano Lesson


(Selections in the Norton Anthology of African-American Literature)

  • Phyllis Wheatley
  • Paul Lawrence Dunbar
  • Langston Hughes
  • Anne Spencer
  • Claude McKay
  • Helene Johnson
  • Countee Cullen
  • Sterling Brown
  • Margaret Walker
  • Robert Hayden
  • Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)
  • Sonia Sanchez
  • Audre Lorde
  • Alice Walker
  • Maya Angelou

Essays and Autobiography:

  • Olaudah Equiano,
    The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
  • David Walker,
    An Appeal
  • Frederick Douglass,
    Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
  • Harriet Jacobs,
    Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
  • Booker T. Washington,
    Up from Slavery
  • W.E.B. Dubois,
    The Souls of Black Folk
    "Criteria for Negro Art"
  • Alaine Locke,
    "The New Negro"
  • Langston Hughes,
    "The Negro Aretist and the Racial Mountain"
    The Big Sea
  • Zora Neale Hurston,
    "How It Feels to Be Colored Me"
    "Chracteristics of Negro Expression"
  • Richard Wright,
    Black Boy
    "Blueprint for Negro Writing"
  • James Baldwin,
    Up from Slavery
  • W.E.B. Dubois,
    Notes of a Native Son
    "The Fire Next Time"
  • Larry Neal,
    "The Black Arts Movement"
  • Malcolm X,
    The Autobiography of Malcolm X
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