How are concepts that are foundational to American nationhood—citizenship, law, racial differentiation, and gender—related to questions of power? Why is “culture” an especially useful site for investigating how power functions? What questions do African American literary studies allow us to ask about power and liberation, history and society? And when it comes to black producers of culture, what (counter) responses to nationhood do they think into being? This course will focus on the interdisciplinary formation of African American Literary Studies, and draw our attention to a few key theories and methods that have shaped this field. Our goal is to understand how the theories and analyses that we cover in this course may bear on our reading of literary texts. Primary texts may include: Nella Larsen, Passing (1929) Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952), Toni Morrison, Sula (1973), and Ernest Gaines, A Gathering of Old Men (1983).