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Research Guides

ENGL/AFST 205.500: Introduction to African American Literature-Prof. Mikko Tuhkanen (Spring 2021)

Relevant Works and Resources

Cushing Memorial Library & Archives has the works of many literary authors including many 1st editions and rare works. Cushing also has one of the largest science fiction, fantasy and comic book collections in the world including the papers of Game of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin.

Things Fall Apart

"A true classic of world literature." Achebe does not only capture life in a pre-colonial African village, he conveys the tragedy of the loss of that world while broadening our understanding of our contemporary realities.

Native Son

It tells the story of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, a black youth living in utter poverty in a poor area on Chicago's South Side in the 1930s. While not apologizing for Bigger's crimes, Wright portrays a systemic causation behind them.


Claudia Rankine's bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media.

James Baldwin - Early Novels and Stories

Here, in a Library of America volume edited by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, is the fiction that established James Baldwin's reputation as a writer who fused unblinking realism and rare verbal eloquence.

Octavia Butler manuscript for Kindred

Octavia Butler Papers-Kindred

The draft manuscript for Kindred formerly titled "To Keep Thee In All Thy Ways," Huntington Library, LA, 2015.

The Complete Stories, Zora Neale Hurston

This landmark gathering of Zora Neale Hurston's short fiction reveals the evolution of one of the most important African American writers. Spanning her career from 1921 to 1955, these stories attest to Hurston's tremendous range and establish themes that recur in her longer fiction. 

Go Tell It on the Mountain

James Baldwin's stunning first novel is now an  American classic. With startling realism that brings Harlem and the black experience vividly to life,  this is a work that touches the heart with emotion while it stimulates the mind with its narrative style, symbolism, and excoriating vision of racism in America. 

Invisible Man

Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel that established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style.


Two girls who grow up to become women. Two friends who become something worse than enemies. In this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison tells the story of Nel Wright and Sula Peace. Terrifying, comic, ribald and tragic, Sula is a work that overflows with life. 

Ann Petry's Short Fiction

This collection of critical essays is the first work to examine the short stories of Ann Petry, a noted African American writer. While best known for her best-selling debut novel, The Street, the focus of this text is her equally important, but less familiar volume of short stories Miss Muriel and Other Stories. These 14 essays constitute an invaluable companion to Petry's work. 

The Intuitionist

Lila Mae is an Intuitionist and, it just so happens, has the highest accuracy rate in her entire department.  But when an elevator in a new city building goes into total freefall on Lila Mae's watch, chaos ensues. The Intuitionist is a brilliant debut by an exceptional young talent. In the tradition of Ralph Ellison, Colson Whitehead artfully crosses back and forth over racial, political, and artistic borders to create a work of stunning depth, soulfulness, and originality, starring one of the most intriguing heroines in contemporary fiction.

Richard Wright

Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerfully evocative novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feeling of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America. It tells the story of Bigger Thomas, a young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. 

Native Son

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.

Search Terms and Strategies

Search for:


Authors-search last name comma first name (ex. angelou, maya)

  • Maya Angelou
  • James Baldwin
  • Imamu Amiri Baraka
  • Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Octavia Butler
  • Ta-Nehesi Coates
  • Cullen, Countee
  • Angela Y. Davis
  • Samuel R. Delany
  • W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Ernest Gaines
  • Marcus Garvey
  • bell hooks
  • Langston Hughes
  • C.R.L. (Cyril Lionel Robert) James
  • Alain Locke
  • J. A. (Joel Augustus Rogers
  • Alice Walker
  • Richard Wright