As the nation grappled with stay-at-home orders, many people had to adjust to remote working and having their plans canceled. For an AU English teacher, his 40s inspired a new plan to give back.
Trudier Harris, a prominent university research professor, decided she wanted to put her free time to good use. With support from the AU’s Black Faculty and Staff Association, Harris has created a free online course in writing and analytical skills for high school graduates.
“As a college professor, I have met too many young people who come to college unable to write at the level college teachers expect of them and who are not used to thinking and analyzing things,” he said. she explained. “So to a small extent it’s my little effort to educate the community and help a few students in this process and this development. “
Harris said students need to realize that writing is no gift to the privileged few.
“Writing is a skill, just like playing football is a skill,” she said. “Mark Ingram didn’t go out without practice and run for all those yards. He would go out every day and practice, practice, practice.
According to the course flyer, students will read and discuss assigned literary works twice a week in addition to producing a two to three page handout each week. While honing their writing and analytical skills, they will also learn about the tradition, history, and development of African American literature.
“I am interested in giving students the opportunity to see how African American literature has developed over the centuries,” said Harris.
The course will begin with the first known literary work written by an African-American writer in 1746, “Bars Fight” by Lucy Terry. Later, he will move on to the analysis of authors like Phillis Wheatley.
“You want to make them feel like they’re okay, that’s what slaves write, that’s what slave stories look like,” she said.
The course will “jump a bit” in time, showing how slave narratives shaped African American literature and what impact they had on black creativity. Harris would then make his way into the twentieth century to discuss the dialect tradition and the black arts movement.
She said she was particularly eager to teach Richard Wright’s “Long Black Song”, a short story included in Wright’s first published collection of “Uncle Tom’s Children” novels. Harris explained that the story would allow students to think about gender roles, the implications of race, Jim Crow laws, and African American history.
“I think the dynamic of interacting with young minds and challenging these young minds and encouraging them to challenge me is the kind of thing we hope for in the learning process. I inspire them, hopefully, and they will inspire me too, ”she said. “It’s gonna be fun.”
Chad Jackson, president-elect of the Black Faculty and Staff Association, said they were proud to have members like Dr Harris.
“[They] represents academia well and represents our efforts to reach out to the community and really helps us bring our mission statement to life, so we’re proud to have it, ”said Jackson. “We are proud to have this project on our platform and whatever we can do for her or any other student, we would be more than happy to exercise our resources to help her.”