Fall 2022

Black (on) Earth

Listed in: Black Studies, as BLST-162  |  English, as ENGL-162


C. Rhonda Cobham-Sander (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 162 and BLST 162 [D]) African and African-descended people have a long-documented and intimate relationship to the natural world as a source of healing, nurture, and wealth. However, for a people who were stripped of their land in colonial Africa, exploited to work the land by European enslavers in the New World, and hung from trees in the American South, and who still have a precarious relationship to water in such places as Flint, Michigan, and post-Maria Puerto Rico, inhabiting the earth is complicated. How might we begin to tell this entangled history? What kinds of stories have Africans and their descendants developed to address their relationship with nature? What does the term “environmental justice” even mean to and for people of African descent today?

In this course, we will encounter a range of texts, including slave narratives, novels, poems, visual art, and performance written by and about Black subjects, to begin to understand how various authors, artists, and activists represent the rich relationship between blackness and the natural world. Readings may include works by Olaudah Equiano, W. E. B Du Bois, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Zora Neale Hurston, Derek Walcott, Jamaica Kincaid, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, T. Dungy, Britt Rusert, Kimberly N. Ruffin, among others.

Limited to 18 students. Ten seats reserved for first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Cobham-Sander.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference given to first-year students. Other students will be admitted on a first come, first served basis, once first-year students have been accommodated.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: TBA

ENGL 162 - LEC

Section 01
M 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM SCCE C101
W 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM SCCE C101

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
One Day I will Write about this Place 2011 Wainaina, Binyavanga Amherst Books TBD
Arrow of God 1989 Achbe, Chinua Amherst Books TBD
Salvage the Bones 2011 Ward, Jesmyn Amherst Books TBD
My Garden Book 1999 Kincaid, Jamaica Amherst Books TBD
Blind Spot 2017 Cole, Teju Amherst Books TBD
The Book of Delights 2019 Gay, Ross Amherst Books TBD
M-Archive After the End of the World 2018 Gumbs, Alexis Pauline Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Fall 2022