Race and Identity in American Literature

What role does literature play in updating our understanding of hope as a concept and as an exercise we can try to emulate, practice and embody in our lives? Has another concept replaced the role that hope is meant to play? Is hope going by another name? What updates on hope have we encountered in novels, poems, or songs in the past few years? What do these new iterations of hope suggest about how stories need to be improved and modernized to make hope relevant for different generations of readers? How does hope speak in a story—what are the contours of its language? What does the future look like through its perspective, and how does it attempt to equip us with tools to wade through, endure, and even enjoy this thing called life? How many different variations of hope can we find toward creating something like the beginnings of a taxonomy of hope? What does hope look like for different kinds of writers? Might a work by Alice Walker, one by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and another by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie fall under a category we’d call epistolary hope, for example? As a practice in/of hope, students will be required to write and revise their arguments about how hope is evolving through our readings.