July 1, 2021

In light of the recent protests and statements in support of Black Lives Matter and other anti

-racist organizing efforts, the College of Liberal Arts is highlighting how its courses incorporate issues related to Black Lives Matter. We will highlight one course each month.  You can view all of our courses here:

See the description below detailing how CLA faculty advance the anti-racist messaging of Black Lives Matter through assignments, readings, and pedagogical practices that affirm the lives, history, and culture of Black people across the globe. Descriptions fall into one of three categories—Long-Standing Practices, Recent Changes, and Future Plans—designed to demonstrate the ongoing nature of anti-racist efforts:

Recent Change

Instructor: Dr. Norbert Schürer
Course: ENGL 681R: Jane Austen

In the most recent version of ENGL 681R, I decided also to teach the novel fragment “Sanditon,” which Austen was working on when she died in 1817. While some scholars consider it problematic to teach a fragment (Austen only completed about one fifth of the novel), the text is remarkable because it has a mixed-race character. This character, a young “half mulatto” (Austen’s words), has a white father and a black mother. The novel (such as it exists) hardly deals with her racial status, but rather is develops ideas about her wealth. Various critics and students have interpreted this situation alternately as Austen being blind to race or Austen taking a progressive position in accepting the young woman regardless of her skin color. In the context of Black Lives Matters, it is important for students to discuss these issues and realize that even literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries can deal with race in nuanced ways.