ENGL 200 D: Reading Literary Forms

New Visions: Young Black Women Writing the World

Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 12:30pm - 1:20pm
AND 010
steph hankinson
Stephanie Hankinson

Syllabus Description:

University of Washington, Spring 2017

English 200: Reading Literary Forms

New Visions: Young Black Women Writing the World  


Instructor: Stephanie Hankinson

Office & Hours: Padelford B5C // Tuesdays 10:20am – 12:20pm (or by appointment)

Email: skh216@uw.edu

Location & Time: AND 010 // MTWTh 12:30pm – 1:20pm

Class website: Canvas, English 200D


This course is designed around the idea of showcasing and exploring the work of young diasporic women of African descent writing new, dynamic visions of the world. These new visions, some political and social, some artistic or literary, are helping to reshape the way scholars and citizens might understand black experiences and aesthetics in a global context. This course will focus on the work of contemporary black writers (all under 40) and attend to a range of literary forms (poetry, novels, drama, essays, and short stories). This author list, and their works, will be far from exhaustive but will seek to capture the widening scope of young black writers thinking transnationally, blending overlapping modernities, and blazing new literary paths to define their identities and experiences. Through reading widely across literary texts written by young black women from a range of geographic and cultural contexts we will ask questions like:


What are some ways we might rethink US-centric notions of blackness and womanhood for the 21st century? How are these young women drawing on or in tension with the pillars of older generations of black women’s writing (Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, Octavia Butler, Maryse Condé, Miriam Tlali, etc.)? How have migration, civil unrest, and increased globalization shaped the tone and style of these young writers? What are the important ways that intersectional thought (theorizing race, class, gender) can serve as an analytic for exploring the various literary forms presented? What is at stake in making visible new literary voices, dynamic political and social perspectives, and radical engagement with race in the contemporary world through women’s writing? Is there even such a thing as “women’s writing”? What does it mean to be young, black and identify as a woman in the increasingly dangerous global political climate?


Note that since this course fulfills the “W” requirement, you should expect to do a great deal of writing (in the form of in-class exercises and formal, graded papers). Class time will be student-centered and discussion-based, so it is very important that you come to class prepared to engage with challenging texts and topics.


Primary Course Texts:

Helen Oyeyemi — What is not yours is not yours – 2017 edition 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — The Thing Around Your Neck – 2010 edition 

Jesmyn Ward — Salvage the Bones – 2012 edition 

Zadie Smith — Changing My Mind – 2010 edition

Danai Gurira — Eclipsed – 2010 edition

Dee Rees (dir.) — Pariah (2011) 

Panashe Chigumadzi — Small Deaths: “Thobela (repeat) / Sishayi’ thobela (repeat)/"

Taiye Selasi – “The Sex Lives of African girls” 

Selections from Jesmyn Ward’s edited collection The Fire This Time

Poetry selections from New Generation African Poets

Course Objectives.

  1. Students are able to contextualize and analyze the materials or topics covered, historically, politically, or culturally.
  2. Students are able to perform competent close readings across a range of literary and scholarly texts.
  3. Students use writing opportunities as a space to develop sound metacognitive practices and critically reflect on their reading practices through writing.
  4. Students have an appreciation for and understanding of literature’s relationship with broad interdisciplinary constellations.
  5. Students address, through writing and rigorous discussion, new lines of inquiry and engage a range of scholarly perspectives concerning the course theme, a variety of literary forms, and the various points of intersection between texts as they relate to culture, history and society.



Participation (in-class engagement, group work and peer review): 25%

Weekly Discussion Posts: 20%

Midterm Paper & Proposal: 25%

Final Paper & Proposal: 30%



You will turn in one midterm paper (1500 word minimum) and one final paper (2200 word minimum). You will be given direction for each paper, but you will also have some freedom in determining your own topics. In advance of each paper, each of you will submit a proposal so that we can discuss your topic ahead of time.


You will also be assigned several smaller informal writing tasks—including but not limited to our course discussion board (prompt on final page). Those other than course discussion board will factor into your Participation grade.


This class requires a lot of reading: it is essential that you keep up with the reading assignments in order to effectively participate in class and to be successful in your graded written work.



You might be wondering what this word means. Participation includes attendance active participation in class discussions and group work, which must adhere to the rules of classroom etiquette (see below), and completion of homework by assigned deadlines, according to the guidelines you are given. Note that this course requires a heavy reading load and a high level of engagement from each student. Participation is crucial to your success in this course. Unexcused absence beyond two classes will begin to affect your participation grade. If you feel you are falling behind please arrange a time to meet with me or see me during my office hours.

It also includes:


-     Coming to every class on time and prepared (do your reading carefully!)

  • Listening actively to your classmates’ ideas

-     Passing grades on in-class quizzes (often reading based)

  • Volunteering thoughtful comments regularly in discussions



Late Work Policy & Grade Scale.

Late work will not be accepted in this course without my permission. If difficult life circumstances arise you must contact me at least 48 hours before the assignment is due in order to be given an extension. Keep in mind, asking for an extension does not mean you will be given an extension. But I understand that “life happens” so please, come and talk to me in advance of assignments.


All informal and formal writing assignments are graded on the university’s four-point scale. Your final course grade would also be submitted to the registrar according to the 4.0 scale. Below is the grade breakdown for the UW 4.0 scale:


4.0 = 95-100 A+

2.8 = 83 B-

1.6 = 71 C

3.9 = 94  A

2.7 = 82 B-

1.5 = 70 D+/C-

3.8 = 93  A-

2.6 = 81 B-

1.4 = 69 D+

3.7 = 92 A-

2.5 = 80 C+/B-

1.3 = 68 D+

3.6 = 91 A-

2.4 = 79 C+

1.2 = 67 D+

3.5 = 90 B+/A-

2.3 = 78 C+

1.1 = 66 D

3.4 = 89 B+

2.2 = 77 C+

1.0 = 65 D

3.3 = 88 B+

2.1 = 76 C

0.9 = 64 D

3.2 = 87 B+

2.0 = 75 C

0.8 = 63 D-

3.1 = 86 B

1.9 = 74 C

0.7 = 62 D-   lowest passing grade

3.0 = 85 B

1.8 = 73 C-


2.9 = 84 B

1.7 = 72 C-



Academic Integrity.

Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else's ideas or writing as your own. In your writing for this class, you are encouraged to refer to other people's thoughts and writing--as long as you cite them. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review. If you have questions about proper practices of citing sources and other’s ideas please meet with me.


Zero Tolerance Policy:

This class takes a zero tolerance policy toward words or actions that insult, demean, or belittle any individual or group of persons based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual preference, ability, economic class, national origin, language, or age. Academic freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of discourse DO NOT protect racism or other acts of harassment and hate. Violations of this Zero Tolerance Policy may result in removal from the classroom and actions governed by the student code of conduct will be taken.



If you need accommodation of any sort, please let me know so that I can work with the UW Disability Resources for Students Office (DRS) to provide what you require. More information about accommodation may be found at http://www.washington.edu/students/drs/.


Writing Help.

The Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC) offers students, staff, and faculty at UW free, one-to-one, 45-minute tutoring sessions for any writing or research project, as well as for personal projects such as applications or cover letters and resumes. their tutors and librarians are trained to collaborate at any stage of the writing and research process, from brainstorming and identifying sources to making final revisions and tying up loose ends. For more information, or to schedule an appointment (more than 500 available per week), please see their website (https://depts.washington.edu/owrc) or come visit the OWRC in person on the first floor of Odegaard Undergraduate Library. See your instructor for other campus writing resources.


Campus Safety.

  • Always call 911 if you or others may be in danger.
  • Call 206-685-SAFE (7233) to report non-urgent threats of violence and for referrals to UW counseling and/or safety resources. TTY or VP callers, please call through your preferred relay service.
  • Don't walk alone. Campus safety guards can walk with you on campus after dark. Call Husky NightWalk 206-685-WALK (9255).
  • Stay connected in an emergency with UW Alert. Register your mobile number to receive instant notification of campus emergencies via text and voice messaging. Sign up online at www.washington.edu/alert.

For more information visit the SafeCampus website at www.washington.edu/safecampus.


Counseling Center.

UW Counseling Center workshops include a wide range of issues including study skills, thinking about coming out, international students and culture shock, and much more. Check out available resources and workshops at: http://depts.washington.edu/counsels/


Career Center.

UW Career Center offers career counseling and planning, workshops and career fairs, a listing of part-time jobs on and off campus, and much more: http://careers.washington.edu/students


Q Center.

The University of Washington Q Center builds and facilitates queer (gay, lesbian, bisexual, two-spirit, trans, intersex, questioning, same-gender-loving, allies) academic and social community through education, advocacy, and support services to achieve a socially-just campus in which all people are valued. For more information, visit http://depts.washington.edu/qcenter/.



Foundation for International Understanding through Students: FIUTS is an example of a campus organization that can bring together your social and academic learning. "FIUTS is an independent non-profit organization which provides cross-cultural leadership and social programming for UW's international and globally minded domestic students. FIUTS is local connections and global community!" FIUTS also offers a free international lunch on the last Wednesday of every month beginning with a lunch on September 28 from 11:30-1:30 in the Kane Hall Walker-Ames room. Consult FIUTS' web site for a detailed calendar of events and links to many resources http://www.fiuts.washington.edu.



If you have any concerns about the course or your instructor, please see the instructor about these concerns as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable talking with the instructor or not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the following English Department Undergraduate Program Staff: Colette Moore cvmoore@uw.edu.




Course Calendar

This is simply an outline for due dates and for the trajectory of the course; dates and assignments are subject to change. For example, I haven’t included supplementary readings in the syllabus calendar but will make sure to factor in ample time for you to complete them. This requires you to keep careful tabs on changes and additions to our online classroom and weekly schedule reports.


I’ll give you detailed assignment prompts well in advance of their due dates, and I’ll keep our day-to-day assignments calendar updated on our Canvas site. The calendar will change on the canvas page as we move through the quarter. You are responsible for checking the Canvas page, as well as your e-mail, every day to keep up with the course changes and details.



Reading for today

Writing due today


Mon 3/27




Course Introduction 


“A Conversation with Black Women on Race” – NYT op-doc


Somi “Black Enough” (Spotify)





Tue 3/28



Chimamada Ngozi Adichie “The Danger of a Single Story” TEDTalk


Kimberlé Crenshaw “The Urgency of Intersectionality” (in class)



200-300 word reflection on Adichie TEDTalk (due on Canvas by class time)

Wed 3/29


Audre Lorde “Fourth of July” (Canvas)


Jesmyn Ward “A Cold Current” (Canvas)




Thurs 3/30


Somi “Four Women” / Nina Simone “Four African Women”


Somi & Simone Articles (Canvas)


Literary autobio

Due: 11:59pm Canvas


The Essay



Mon 4/3

Jesmyn Ward - The First This Time introduction

 (3-11) Canvas


Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah – The Fire This Time “The Weight” (19-32) Canvas



Tue 4/4


Zadie Smith Changing My Mind (xi-11)

First Readers (Group 1)

Wed 4/5


Zadie Smith Changing My Mind (110-131; 132-148)


Responders (Group 2)

Thu 4/6


Zadie Smith Changing My Mind (225-236)


Zadie Smith “On Optimism and Despair” (Canvas)


Synthesizers (Group 3)


The Short Story



Mon 4/10

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – The Thing Around Your Neck



Tue 4/11

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – The Thing Around Your Neck


First Readers (Group 2)


Wed 4/12

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – The Thing Around Your Neck



Responders (Group 3)

Thu 4/13

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – The Thing Around Your Neck


Synthesizers (Group 1)



The Short Story


Mon 4/17

Taiye Selasi – “The Sex Lives of African Girls” (Canvas) 




Tue 4/18

Helen Oyeyemi – What is Not Yours is Not Yours

First Readers (Group 3)


Wed 4/19

Helen Oyeyemi – What is Not Yours is Not Yours

Responders (Group 1)


Thu 4/20

Helen Oyeyemi – What is Not Yours is Not Yours

Synthesizers (Group 2)




The Screenplay / Film



Mon 4/24

Dee Rees – Pariah reviews (Canvas)


Tue 4/25

Dee Rees – Pariah (screening day 1)

Pariah Screenplay (Canvas)



Wed 4/26

Dee Rees – Pariah (screening day 2)

Pariah Screenplay (Canvas)


Thu 4/27

Dee Rees – Pariah Discussion



MIDTERM PAPER DUE 11:59pm Canvas Sunday 4/30



The Novel



Mon 5/1

Jesmyn Ward – Salvage the Bones




Tue 5/2


Jesmyn Ward – Salvage the Bones



First Readers (Group 1)

Wed 5/3

Jesmyn Ward – Salvage the Bones


Responders (Group 2)

Thu 5/4

Jesmyn Ward – Salvage the Bones

Synthesizers (Group 3)




The Novel



Mon 5/8

Jesmyn Ward – Salvage the Bones


Tue 5/9

Jesmyn Ward – Salvage the Bones

First Readers (Group 2)

Wed 5/10

Jesmyn Ward – Salvage the Bones


Responders (Group 3)

Thu 5/11

Jesmyn Ward – Salvage the Bones


Synthesizers (Group 1)






The Play



Mon 5/15

Danai Gurira — Eclipsed 


Tue 5/16

Danai Gurira — Eclipsed 

First Readers (Group 3)

Wed 5/17

Danai Gurira — Eclipsed 


Responders (Group 1)

Thu 5/18

Danai Gurira — Eclipsed 


Synthesizers (Group 2)


The Play / Poetry

wrap up second sequence


Mon 5/22


Danai Gurira — Eclipsed 


Tue 5/23


Danai Gurira — Eclipsed 


Wed 5/24

Poetry selections from New Generation African Poets



Thu 5/25


Poetry selections from New Generation African Poets


Final Paper Proposal due 11:59pm Canvas


Poetry / Writing Workshops

don’t forget to give course evaluations


Mon 5/29




Tue 5/30


Poetry selections from New Generation African Poets



Wed 5/31


Poetry selections from New Generation African Poets



Thu 6/1


Writing workshop & Wrap up



Final Paper Due: Friday 6/9 by 11:59pm on Canvas


Weekly Blogging Prompt & Rubric


Our course blog is an extension of our in-class learning community: a place where you can track your reading process through thoughts, reactions, and questions in informal writing. Your blog posts should be coherent and proofread, but you don’t need to have a fully formed thesis. In fact, you may find that you raise more questions than you answer in your weekly writing. You’ll also find that your classmates’ ideas and interpretations can serve as catalysts for your own analyses later in our formal writing assignments.


In addition to the assigned reading for each class period, you’ll need to keep up with the blog and come to class prepared to incorporate blog material into our in-class discussions. You do not need to read every single comment, but skim most, and read several posts that interest you more closely.


Our class will be divided into three different groups. Each post, whether you’re a first reader or respondent, should be 250 words minimum and quote directly from the text. Each week, you need only fulfill one role on the blog:


  1. First Readers: post initial reactions, insights, and discussion questions by the start of class. Quote from the text at least once.
  2. Respondents: build upon, challenge, or clarify first readers’ posts by the start of class. Quote directly from a classmate’s post, and point to at least one passage from that day’s reading.
  3. Synthesizers: you should read several of your classmates’ posts that interest you and take detailed notes which you will post on Canvas before your class discussion day. You are reading closely to make connections and raise new questions. Take notes, including 2 discussion questions, that you will bring to class and be prepared to contribute to class discussion. Do not forget to submit these on Canvas before coming to class.



Rubric: All discussion boards are graded on the four-point scale, and will be averaged to equal 20% of your total course grade. Your contributions as “synthesizer” are part of your participation grade. Each individual posts will be assessed according to this rubric:






Exceptional. The entry is focused and coherently integrates examples with explanations or analysis. It demonstrates awareness of its own limitations or implications, considers multiple perspectives when appropriate, and reflects in-depth engagement with the topic.


Satisfactory. The entry is reasonably focused, and explanations or analysis are mostly based on examples/evidence. Fewer connections are made between ideas, and though new insights are offered, they are not fully developed. It reflects moderate engagement with the topic.


Underdeveloped. The entry is mostly description or summary, without consideration of alternative perspectives, and few connections are made between ideas. It reflects passing engagement with the topic.


Limited. The entry is unfocused, or simply rehashes previous comments, and displays no evidence of engagement with the topic.


No Credit. The blog entry is missing or incomplete (does not meet the minimum length requirement).




Catalog Description: 
Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 10:50pm