“Contemporary African American Literature” is a three-week college and university faculty institute for twenty-five participants to engage in critical debates on contemporary African American literature. The institute, directed by Lovalerie King (English, Pennsylvania State University), engages participants in a critical dialogue on the continued viability of a literary tradition organized around race, blackness, or African-American identity, with an emphasis on urban fiction and new subgenres of popular fiction. Week one seeks an understanding of the tradition of African- American literature and the contexts within which it developed and thrived. Week two focuses on contemporary popular literature and explore a series of questions: How do we define “Urban Fiction,” “Hip-Hop Fiction,” “Street Lit” and “Gangsta Lit”? Are college classrooms appropriate places for teaching popular literature? Should we bring the same aesthetic analysis to popular fiction that we bring to conventional literary texts? What is a graphic novel and does it have literary merit? How has new technology affected literary production and distribution? Week three considers how the publishing industry has shaped the tradition, as a question central to contemporary debates. The institute is anchored by primary readings such as Toni Morrison’s Paradise, Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s Wench, Sister Souljah’s Midnight: A Gangster Love Story, Nikki Turner’s Natural Born Hustler, as well as by secondary materials including Maryemma Graham’s Black is Gold: African American Literature, Literacy, and Pedagogical Legacies, Paul Gilroy’s Against Race, and Kenneth Warren’s “Historicizing African American Literature.” The director is joined by a number of guest lecturers: Trudier Harris (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill), Maryemma Graham (University of Kansas), Dana Williams and Greg Carr (Howard University), Shirley Moody-Turner (Pennsylvania State University), Eve Dunbar (Vassar College), Howard Rambsy (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville), Evie Shockley (Rutgers University), and LaMonda Horton-Stallings (Indiana University).