This course provides an examination of intellectual and creative productions, developments, and events that have come to be recognized as the discipline of African American Studies. The course explores literature, history, popular culture (music, television, magazines, newspapers, movies, film documentaries), and politics as a way to identify the historical and political origins and objectives of Black Studies and the 1960s Black Liberation struggles, the early academic and social concerns of Black Studies advocates, the theoretical and critical approaches to Black Studies as a discipline, and the early objectives of Black Studies in relation to present goals of multiculturalism.
This course aims to provide a panoramic view of the operations of race and culture in the literature of a racially ethnic community of the Americas, from early oral traditions through the first written and published works. Captivity narratives, autobiographies, poems, prose, and different genres of resistance writing, allow students to examine anew, colonial, emancipatory, anti-colonial, and pivotal modern socio-political and aesthetic movements and eras. Cultivating an informed sense of the complexity of issues of race and culture in the creation of Ethnic Literature, and the geographical itineraries and impact of such cultural production processes, national and global senses, are major objectives of this course.
This course provides historical understandings alongside the analysis and discussion of contemporary Black popular culture with a focus on its artistic value. Pop culture is authentic, as opposed to commercial culture. African American culture was formed under the reign of white supremacy. A very under-observed component to African American cultural expressions is the artisan work needed to create and perform them. The freedom often denied to African Americans to move and express themselves, meant that they were especially creative in forming their culture, which produced what is often appropriated by the oppressor, but what African Americans will always see as their everyday culture and life. From food, language, dance, and music, to hair care and styles, fashion and non-verbal communication, these cultural aspects make up a culture that has created some of the most artistic aspects of today's global popular culture. This course focuses on appreciating the art of Black pop culture, by understanding how and why African American culture was created, and when and where it appears. Artistic traditions include: African American Language, Soul Food, Dance, Music, Sports, Digital Presence, Television, and Film. Major course resources include popular culture items, academic commentary, and commentary from pop culture creators.
This course provides students with tools of ethical analysis so that they can think critically about pressing contemporary moral issues through the lens of justice. The course focuses on ethical methods from world Christianity and western philosophy. The course introduces both ethical theories and justice theories, and examines multicultural perspectives of the long-standing religious, theological, and philosophical understanding of justice. It analyzes how social justice concepts have been applied in different cultural contexts, including nonwestern communities. Students examine different models of justice and their implications for contemporary moral issues (e.g. racism, healthcare, social welfare, capital punishment, human rights, immigration, refugees, property rights, and the environment). The class includes interactive lectures on justice theories and students actively participate in discussions on selected case studies. Course readings may include excerpts from Aristotle, Aquinas, Mill, Locke, Calvin, Kant, Rawls, Sandel, Nussbaum, Singer, Cone, Williams, Hauerwas, and Ahn.
Crosslisted as AFAM/REL 265.
Environmental justice can only occur with rich and complex understandings of the intersections of culture, ecology, politics, history, and community. This course seeks to understand the persistence of environmental racism in an inclusive and historicized landscape, one that considers multiple forms of knowledge and expertise and embodies the idea that imagining a more equitable, sustainable future is not possible without a grounded notion of the past and its present articulations. The course will use transdisciplinary perspectives to trace economic and environmental processes over time, situate them within rich cultural bodies of knowledge, and consider the differential impacts of inequalities on a range of regions and peoples. Students will undertake place-based case studies, examinations of broad patterns, commodity- and resource-specific process tracing, and engage with the surrounding human and natural environment. Consequently, this course demands a full critical engagement across disciplines and landscapes, and with each other and the local community.
This course is designed to be both an introduction and a deep dive into the interconnectedness of African Americans and Capitalism within the United States. Capitalist ideologies are continually at the foundation of the captivity (oppression) of African Americans. Emphasis is on the ways in which African Americans have financed the capitalist gains in this country, and the ways that capitalism in the U.S. has harmed African Americans. The necessities of life--healthcare, education, job and food security--are more accessible to some than all, and one's status within the U.S. economy is a major determinant. This inequity becomes very apparent during national emergencies. This course focuses on the economic intricacies within U.S. systems, using a social impacts approach to engage with the inequity of the U.S. economy. Major areas of economic oppression potentially to be covered include: The Slave Trade & U.S. Slavery, Mass Incarceration (free labor), Education (Student Loan Debt), Sports and Music (Black culture/White Ownership), Housing policies (Redlining/Blockbusting), Medical Industry (Health Advancements/Black Bodies), Drug Industry (Marijuana), Lottery (The Numbers), and Pandemics and Natural Disasters (Hurricane Katrina & COVID-19).
This course is an integrative course in the humanities that explores various constructions of black female identity. The course looks at black womanhood as it's represented in the public imaginary, feminist theories, critical race theories, and in literature and literary criticism written by black women writers. One of the questions the course asks is: How have scholars and writers addressed fundamental questions of black female identity? To answer this question, students read and view a wide survey of materials including novels, essays, memoir, and film. Through this investigation, students consider how studies of race, feminism, and gender connect to personal lives.
This special topics course is dedicated to an international Black population with the additional course component of a faculty-led study abroad after the semester concludes. It provides students the opportunity to connect the literature-based course curriculum, along with additional content on historical, environmental, political, health, and gender related materials, with a guided experience within the African Diaspora. West African novels provide the primary curriculum of this course, covering various time periods and experiences. The course content also incorporates supplemental materials to guide in course discussions. Materials provide students with a general understanding of the past and current contexts of West Africa. Students gain a new perspective into the African American experience by reading and experiencing the culture and history of Africa. AFAM 310 provides students with alternative narratives of African experiences. It provides students tools to engage with persons from non-western societies in a productive, respectful, and culturally aware manner that will guide them in collaborating cross culturally.
This is a study abroad course with a 4-week intensive journey to Ghana, West Africa. Combining academic preparations with incountry cultural site visits and excursions, alongside structured interning opportunities, students immerse themselves into Ghanaian society. Ghana is often cited as the gateway to Africa because of its history and contemporary influences on African American expressions of African cultures. In their collective journey through Ghana, students spend time at an internship site several days a week to connect with local communities and engage in societal structures. Students discuss their experiences with peers and course instructors to process what it means to be in Ghana in relation to their own identities including, race, sex, gender, and nationality. Students visit the Slave Castles which are historical locations related to the transatlantic slave trade and the roots of U.S. chattel slavery. They engage in self-reflection and content connection while navigating Ghana's post-colonial landscape. In the spring semester, students meet every other week to engage with a selection of readings and assignments to gain insight and awareness of Ghanaian history, culture, and contemporary issues. This course provides students with a new perspective into the African American experience by visiting a part of its origin story.
This course is designed to be an introduction to major racial and ethnic groups which comprise the population of the United States. Emphasis will be according to the history and culture of racial/ethnic peoples in America as well as the role of race and nationality in the pursuit and achievement of the "American Dream." Also highlighted will be an exploration of the linkage between social power and the concepts of race and ethnicity in the United States and how this linkage affects personal identity formation and worldview assumptions. Discussion of the formation of myths and stereotypes and contemporary issues will be highlighted.
This course explores the relationship between African Americans and American law, especially but not exclusively American constitutional law. The first part of the course examines important antebellum cases such as Scott v. Sanford (Dred Scott).The second part of the course traces two conflicting trajectories of legal decisions that emerged as the federal courts sought to determine whether and how the fourteenth amendment altered race relations in America. The final part of the course begins with the landmark Brown decision and then examines two important domains of American law: race, law, and American educational practices (e.g. desegregation, busing, affirmative action, school assignment policies) and race, law, and the workplace (e.g. employment discrimination, affirmative action).
This course examines the distinct historical experience of African American women and explores the importance of race and of gender in the American past. Some of the topics considered include African American women and slavery, free black women in antebellum America, African American women and reform, issues of the family in slavery and freedom, sexuality and reproductive issues, African American women and the world of work, African American women in the struggle for education, and African American women and organized politics. The exploration of values is an important component of the course. Readings emphasize the use of primary sources ranging from slave narratives to contemporary fiction.
This course employs an interdisciplinary approach to explore the history and expressive culture of the civil rights era. Emphasizing what historians call the "long civil rights movement," the course explores earlier strategies of resistance, the civil rights and black power movements, and legacies of these movements. An interdisciplinary approach is particularly applicable for a course focused on the civil rights movement because the literature of racial protest and of the "black arts" was not simply parallel to the political upheavals. As Amiri Baraka put it in 1971, "Art is Politics." Readings and assignments engage the complex, sometimes contradictory, legal, political, literary, artistic, and musical responses of this charged historical period, and the intersecting struggles over knowledge, power, and identity.
For fifty years the decision in Roe prevented states from criminalizing or outlawing abortion, though restrictions placed upon a person seeking to terminate a pregnancy varied widely from state to state. Now, in a post-Roe world, abortion bans are proliferating across the country. This course draws upon the expertise of faculty members from across our campus as we seek to understand the deep history of abortion, abortion restrictions, coerced reproduction, and other state interventions in people's sexual and reproductive lives. We will tackle the past, present, and future of reproductive freedom and how it has and will be imbricated in other fights for justice.
The purpose of this course is to enhance students' understanding of diversity issues as they relate to the study of communication. The course looks at how the media, its images and discourses, shape one's understanding of experiences, shape the experiences of women, and the experiences of people of color. The course also explores the ways in which elements of the media socially reproduce prejudice and foster resistance to prejudice. As a result of engagement in the course, students gain the ability to critically analyze and evaluate media products. They also become aware of critical professional issues in relation to a diversified workforce as it relates to the production, distribution, and consumption of media products.
Cross-listed as AFAM/COMM 370.
This course examines the renaissance of African American literature, music, and visual art that, for the most part, emerges from Harlem, a cultural hub in the 1920s and 1930s. The course also approaches the literature, music, and visual art, as well as the social changes in Harlem, from different disciplinary perspectives, including literary criticism, cultural history, music criticism, art criticism, and aesthetic theory. Students explore social and aesthetic debates that arose during the Harlem Renaissance and connect these to parallel debates today. Students also make connections between and among different artists and thinkers of the period, including Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Jean Toomer, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Wallace Thurman, Claude McKay, Sargent Johnson, Romare Bearden, Cab Calloway, Bessie Smith, and Walter White. The course invites students to make connections between literature, visual art, and music from the period and between the Harlem Renaissance and their own ideas about art and society.
Special Topics in Race & Ethnicity provide students with content related to racial and ethnic groups not primarily covered in African American Studies (AFAM) courses, while using the foundations of the discipline to interrogate the experiences, knowledge, impact, and engagement of different peoples with the plight and knowledge of Black people. The course topic is determined by the instructor. Courses under this theme provide an in-depth examination of particular racial or ethnic groups alongside unique transdisciplinary theoretical approaches to interrogating their experiences. As a breadth course in AFAM Studies, topics show a distinct relationship to African American studies; allow application of methods and theories from AFAM Studies; and expands lenses and extends contexts for understanding on topics instructive to African American experiences. Through these courses, students gain a critical appreciation for the range and relevance of the conceptual frameworks of African American Studies as a discipline as they engage with additional racial identities, their histories, and current impacts of their oppression, resistance, collective voice, and strategies of critique and transformation.
This course is the primary methods course for the major. The course provides students with a thorough grounding in the interdisciplinary literatures and research approaches within African American Studies. In this course students are taught to understand and investigate historical and contemporary phenomena through thoughtful reflection on their positionality and community experiences. Assignments give students practice in integrating the three main facets of the field of African American Studies, scholarship, education, and advocacy that are expected of them as upper-division participants in the African American Studies tradition. AFAM 398 is intended to be taken in the junior or senior year with the purpose of writing a proposal for the AFAM 402 Research Capstone. Students minoring in AFAM or majoring in other disciplines looking for research approaches centering marginalized communities are also welcome.
This is the African American Studies Program course in public scholarship. It provides students the opportunity to connect their coursework with the Race and Pedagogy Institute. One of the tenets of African American studies is the production of scholarship and public programs that effects change and impacts lives especially for communities historically underserved by official state and national institutions (i.e., public scholarship; some prefer the term civic engagement). The Race and Pedagogy Institute articulates these tenets in its various initiatives. The African American Studies program builds on the synergy evolving between the Institute's various activities including its Community Partners Forum, and debates and events in the larger community to provide students with unique opportunities for dynamic engagement with social and cultural challenges. This course provides students with the necessary educational scaffolding for the production of public scholarship and then offers them the opportunity to contribute their work as part of ongoing critical efforts to confront and transform historical disparities in power, and privilege between different communities especially among local, regional, and national communities.
The 1619 Project is a signal development in the social, political, and intellectual life of the United States. This New York Times Magazine special project, a brainchild of The New York Times staff writer Nikole Hannah-Jones has sparked widespread conversations, reconsiderations, and controversies concerning the national narrative about the founding and development of the United States of America. This course addresses The 1619 Project, its subjects, and impact and as such is a study of racial inequalities, racism, and antiracism. Students in the course will explore the range of issues addressed by The 1619 Project through an examination of select artifacts from the broad range of materials that make up this dynamic and expanding project. These issues include slavery, racism, electoral politics and democracy, capitalism and economics, and popular culture, including music, literature, and photography. As an African American Studies course, AFAM 400 employs a critical interrogative approach that considers the contexts and counterarguments essential to a full understanding of The 1619 Project, its reception, and its impact. The course therefore incorporates an examination of the critics and counter-programs challenging The 1619 Project.
This course takes as its central object the idea of race. Race is understood as a social construct that designates relations of structural difference and disparity. How race is treated is a crucial issue in this course. It is in this question of 'the how' that the term narrative becomes salient. The term narrative intentionally focuses attention on the material practices through which we have come to define race as a social construct. This terminology, 'narratives of race' spotlights an interest in investigating the historical events and visual and verbal images employed in the linking, patterning, sequencing, and relaying our ways of knowing race and its social relations. Implicated in the construction of race is its production and deployment of the moral and intellectual values that our academic disciplines bear. In considering such values as part of the investigation, this course includes careful comparative analyses of the ways in which the disciplinary systems of ontology, epistemology, aesthetics, and politics are used in the making and remaking of the academic and social grammars of race. Thus the analysis necessarily includes an intertextualization of the several academic disciplines engaging the question of race.
In this course students employ the range of methods and understandings gained through AFAM 101 and further studies in the major to complete an independent research project/paper.
Advanced seminars are intended for African American Studies majors and minors with junior or senior standing and are designed to facilitate in-depth examination of a specific topic on a focused experience of Black people in the Americas and/or in diasporas beyond. Course topics and emphases for advanced seminars are determined by the instructor. Such courses provide students with content that necessitates a substantive level of comprehension of African American Studies' (AFAM's) methods and theories and the ability to apply knowledge gained in AFAM Studies to critical analysis and interrogation of the seminars' topics. Through advanced seminars, students strengthen their AFAM Studies lenses in such a way that enables them to understand, in more depth, the roles race, power, privilege, and oppression have in knowledge production, and societal interactions and conditions. Additionally, students as AFAM majors or minors, expand the knowledge and interpretive capacities to grow into informed and active participants in the broader society. Please consult the department website for information on current and upcoming topics.