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The subject of our writing, thinking and talking this semester will be "race": a word that is deceptively difficult to define, even though everybody seems to think they know what it means. We will examine the ways a few American writers -- some of them "black," some "white," and others whose mere existence calls even those seemingly simple designations into question -- approached the problem of race in American life. From what we read, we will try to gain a real understanding of what W.E.B. DuBois might have meant when he declared that "the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line."
Along the way, of course, we will read some of the best writing the twentieth century has yet produced, and we will write about all of it extensively. Our discussion of the course texts will alternate with work on writing -- drafting, workshops, and discussions of style and structure.