[R] This interdisciplinary introduction to Black Studies combines the teaching of foundational texts in the field with instruction in reading and writing. The first half of the course employs How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren as a guide to the careful reading of books focusing on the slave trade and its effects in Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States. Important readings in this part of the course include Black Odyssey by Nathan Huggins, Racism: A Short History by George Frederickson, and The Black Jacobins by C. L. R. James. The second half of the course addresses important themes from the turn of the twentieth century to the present. Beginning with The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois, it proceeds through a range of seminal texts, including The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon and The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. This part of the course utilizes Revising Prose by Richard Lanham to extend the lesson in reading from the first half of the semester into an exploration of precision and style in writing. Computer exercises based on Revising Prose and three short essays—one on a single book, another comparing two books, and the last on a major theme in the course—provide the main opportunity to apply and reinforce skills in reading and writing learned throughout the semester. After taking this course, students at all levels of preparation should emerge not only with a good foundation for advancement in Black Studies but also with a useful set of guidelines for further achievement in the humanities and the social sciences.
Limited to 18 students per section. Fall semester: Professor Vaughan. Spring semester: Professor Lohse.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2023
(Offered as THDA 223, BLST 113, and ENGL 371) What is meant by “the African-American experience” within the context of the U.S. American theater? What do the crafting and thematic concerns of plays penned by significant African-descendent writers in the United States tell us about the history of African-American theatrical performance and the larger issues of Black personhood, community, culture, and citizenship it reflects? This course is a thematic and critical survey of pivotal African-American plays from the mid-nineteenth century to the late twentieth century. Through practical dramaturgy and textual analysis we will study these playwrights’ deployment of their creative voice within social conditions that have evolved over the aforementioned period, from state-sanctioned exclusion to conditioned acceptance within U.S. American socio-cultural discourses. We will also examine how the civic work of these plays (and their writers) meet, intersect and coexist with that of other identity-based advocacy movements. Themes explored include slavery, segregation, nationality, class, religion, gender, sexual identity, among others. Playwrights studied may include Ira Aldridge, Angelina Grimke, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Charles Fuller, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Adrienne Kennedy, George C. Wolfe, August Wilson, Ntzoke Shange, and others.
Visiting Assistant Professor Jude Sandy. Fall semester.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as MUSI 128 and BLST 344). This course examines the relationship between blues music and American culture. Using Amiri Baraka's influential 1963 book of music criticism, Blues People, as a central text, we will explore ways in which the "blues impulse" has been fundamental to conceptions of African-American identity. At the same time, we will trace the development of African-American music through its connection to West African musical traditions and through its emergence during slavery and the Jim Crow South. Our investigation will survey a number of precursors to the blues, work songs, spirituals, and minstrels and see how these impacted early blues styles, including delta blues, classic blues, and early blues-oriented gospel practices. The blues played a fundamental role in the emergence of new popular musics in the 1940s and 1950s, most notably rock and roll. Embedded within these new musical practices were ideas about African American modernism, urbanity, and self-representation. Culminating in an examination of hip-hop culture, we will analyze the connection between African-American musical practices and larger debates about race, class, gender, and ethnicity. We will see how the blues serves as a mode of activism, and how blues musicians engage questions about racial and ethnic identity through music making.
Limited to 18 students. Professor Robinson. Omitted 2021-22.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 181 [AF/TE/TR] and BLST 121 [A]) Africa is a continent of fifty-four countries, but in many people's minds, the continent's name conjures up a host of stereotypes—some positive and some negative—that misrepresent the continent as an undifferentiated whole. This course's primary goal is to introduce students to the historical evidence and scholarly conversations about Africa’s pasts from the 1870s to the present. The main themes will be the social, political, and economic impacts of imperial policies on African societies, and the long afterlife of these impacts. We will discuss the construction and alterations of “tribal” identities and nationalist politics, the problems caused by colonial labor policies and the denial of civil rights to Africans, the reconstruction of gender identities and roles, and the emergence of various forms of protest politics in both the colonial and post-colonial periods. Requirements include active participation in class and multiple graded and ungraded written assignments. Two class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Professor Redding.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ARHA 149 and BLST 123 [A]) An introduction to the ancient and traditional arts of Africa. Special attention will be given to the archaeological importance of the rock art paintings found in such disparate areas as the Sahara and South Africa, achievements in the architectural and sculptural art in clay of the early people in the area now called Zimbabwe and the aesthetic qualities of the terracotta and bronze sculptures of the Nok, Igbo-Ukwe, Ife and Benin cultures in West Africa, which date from the second century B.C.E. to the sixteenth century C.E. The study will also pursue a general socio-cultural survey of traditional arts of the major ethnic groups of Africa.
Spring semester. Professor Abiodun.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as THDA 224, BLST 124, and ENGL 379) What is the “African” in “African-American?” From the point of view of U.S. American theater, what is the relationship between African-American theatrical practices and those of a global African diaspora? Grounded in Paul Gilroy’s and other theorists’ positing of “The Black Atlantic,” this course will examine how notions of shared and distinct cultural heritages collide and co-mingle across the theatrical performance worlds of African and other African-descendant peoples. Our point of reference will be canonical and contemporary plays and dance-theater works by African-American artists like Adrienne Kennedy, August Wilson, Katherine Dunham, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Ronald K. Brown, Marcus Gardley, Jackie Sibblies-Drury, Danai Gurira, and others. We will examine how the conflicts, solidarities and assertions of identity and heritage in these artists’ works relate to that of such African-continental, -Caribbean, -European and trans-national figures as Pearl Primus, Wole Soyinka, Germaine Acogny, Ama Ata Aidoo, Femi Osofisan, Derek Walcott, Aimé Césaire, Trevor Rhone, Natasha Gordon and others. This comparative study will be situated against the seminal backdrop of diaspora cultures of ceremonial performance practices still evident throughout the Black world.
Visiting Assistant Professor Jude Sandy. Spring semester. 2021-2022.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 130 and BLST 130) The hustle and flow of bodies, ideas, inequalities and solidarities is core to our increasingly globalized world. This course offers an introduction to the Americas as a transnational space. We will explore the interplay of race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and nationality from interdisciplinary perspectives. We will draw examples from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Students will learn through a variety of methods including textual analysis, feminist ethnography, archival research, and cultural studies. We will also examine multiple approaches to American Studies such as critical race and ethnic studies, feminist and queer studies, indigenous studies, as well as theories of decolonization and settler colonialism. We will grapple with the complexities of identity and difference, immigration and border control, slavery, colonization, and empire.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Post-Doctoral Fellow Jolly and Professor Schmalzbauer.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as BLST 131 [US] and HIST 131 [US/TR/TS]) This course will explore the evolution of African American social movements over the course of the twentieth century. It will survey the critical organizations, institutions, and figures of the Black freedom struggle and will examine the ideological diversity of an umbrella movement that encompassed ever-shifting combinations of uplift politics, black nationalism, liberalism, and leftism. It will explore critical Black lives over the course of the semester, including Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Pauli Murray, Ralph Bunche, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer, Angela Davis, and others. The course will also introduce students to foundational debates and issues in the field of African American history. Additionally, it will push students to ponder how the political, socioeconomic, and cultural endeavors of African Americans have and continue to alter conventional understandings of "freedom," "justice," "democracy," and "equity" within and beyond the United States.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Bradley.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as MUSI 126 and BLST 134 [US]) This course examines the cultural origins of hip hop and how this small, minority, Bronx-based subculture expanded into one of the most influential styles of music in the world. This year, the course will focus more on the music’s political potential, analyzing how hip hop artists have wielded their music’s popularity to highlight systemic inequalities and enact social change. The course will begin by analyzing the cultural conditions out of which hip hop arose in the mid-1970s; from there it will turn to examining how hip hop music, over the last thirty-five years, has sounded out the identity of its creators as they have grappled with six major questions: What musical elements are crucial components of hip hop’s sound? What does realness in hip hop sound like, and why does it matter? How have artists negotiated expressing their specific geographic origins while simultaneously embracing globalization? How does this genre fit into the music industry, and how has the music industry affected hip hop? Should hip hop be political, and how should artists express their politics? How have technological developments altered hip hop’s sound? Through answering these questions, students will gain an understanding of how hip hop has developed into the styles that we hear today, and how hip hop has radically transformed American racial politics and popular culture more broadly.
Limited to 18 students. Professor Coddington. Omitted 2021-22. Hyflex format with as much face-to-face learning as possible; online elements of the course will occur via Slack, the course website, and Zoom.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as THDA 155, BLST 144, and SWAG 155) In this introductory course we will look at dance performance as reflective of culture, gender, race and politics. Class sessions will incorporate viewings of recorded performances and in-depth discussions; attendance at live performances will also be part of the course. Selected readings in gender, critical race and queer theories (among others) will be assigned and used to develop a critical understanding of the relationship between bodies and performance, both on and off stage. Selected readings for this course include Judith Butler, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, and Jose Esteban Munoz, among others. Selected choreographers include Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Faye Driscoll, William Forsythe, and Martha Graham.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-2022.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as LJST 105 and BLST 147 [US]) Understandings of and conflicts about place are of central significance to the experience and history of race and race relations in America. The shaping and reshaping of places is an important ingredient in the constitution and revision of racial identities: think of “the ghetto,” Chinatown, or “Indian Country.” Law, in its various manifestations, has been intimately involved in the processes which have shaped geographies of race from the colonial period to the present day: legally mandated racial segregation was intended to impose and maintain both spatial and social distance between members of different races.
The objective of this course is to explore the complex intersections of race, place, and law. Our aim is to gain some understanding of geographies of race “on-the-ground” in real places, and of the role of legal practices—especially legal argument—in efforts to challenge and reinforce these racial geographies. We will ask, for example, how claims about responsibility, community, rationality, equality, justice, and democracy have been used to justify or resist both racial segregation and integration, access and expulsion. In short, we will ask how moral argument and legal discourse have contributed to the formation of the geographies of race that we all inhabit. Much of our attention will be given to a legal-geographic exploration of African-American experiences. But we will also look at how race, place and the law have shaped the distinctive experiences of Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans.
Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Senior Lecturer Delaney.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ENGL 162 and BLST 162) 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. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as ARHA 157, ARCH 157, and BLST 193 [D]) This course engages the buildings, cities, and landscapes of the former colonies of Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean. Beginning with the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the non-European territories, which once comprised the lucrative possessions of modern European empires, quickly became independent states charged with developing infrastructure, erecting national monuments, and handling the influx of laborers drawn to the metropolises formed as sleepy colonial towns grew into bustling postcolonial cities. This class will examine the buildings, urban spaces, rural landscapes, and national capitals that emerged in response to these political histories. We will approach a number of issues, such as the architecture of national independence monuments, the preservation of buildings linked to the colonial past, the growth of new urban centers in Africa and India after independence, architecture and regimes of postcolonial oppression, the built environments of tourism in the independent Caribbean, and artists’ responses to all of these events. Some of the places that we will address include: Johannesburg, South Africa; Chandigarh, India; Negril, Jamaica; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; and Lilongwe, Malawi. Our goal will be to determine what, if any, continuities linked the buildings, landscapes, and spaces of post-independence Africa, India, and the Caribbean in the twentieth century. Over the course of the semester, students will gain skills in analyzing buildings, town plans, and other visual materials. Also, this class will aid students in developing their writing skills, particularly, their ability to write about architecture and urban space.
Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.2022-23: Not offered
[R] In this course students will focus closely on major debates that have animated the field of Black Studies, addressing a wide range of issues from the slave trade to the present. Each week will focus on specific questions such as: What came first, racism or slavery? Is African art primitive? Did Europe underdevelop Africa? Is there Caribbean History or just history in the Caribbean? Should Black Studies exist? Is there a black American culture? Is Affirmative Action necessary? Was the Civil Rights Movement a product of government action or grass-roots pressure? Is the underclass problem a matter of structure or agency? The opposing viewpoints around such questions will provide the main focus of the reading assignments, which will average two or three articles per week. In the first four weeks, students will learn a methodology for analyzing, contextualizing, and making arguments that they will apply in developing their own positions in the specific controversies that will make up the rest of the course.
Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Postdoctoral Fellow & Visiting Assistant Professor Loggins.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as BLST 201 [D] HIST 267 [AF/LA/TEp/TR] and LLAS 201) The formation of "the Black Atlantic" or "the African Diaspora" began with the earliest moments of European explorations of the West African coast in the fifteenth century and ended with the abolition of Brazilian slavery in 1888. This momentous historical event irrevocably reshaped the modern world. This course will trace the history of this transformation at two levels; first, we examine large scale historical processes including the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the development of plantation economies, and the birth of liberal democracy. With these sweeping stories as our backdrop, we will also explore the lives of individual Africans and African-Americans, the communities they built, and the cultures they created. We will consider the diversity of the Black Atlantic by examining the lives of a broad array of individuals, including black intellectuals, statesmen, soldiers, religious leaders, healers and rebels. Furthermore, we will pay special attention to trans-Atlantic historical formations common during this period, especially the contributions of Africans and their descendants to Atlantic cultures, societies, and ideas, ultimately understanding enslaved people as creative (rather than reactive) agents of history. So, our questions will be: What is the Black Atlantic? How can we understand both the commonalities and diversity of the experiences of Africans in the Diaspora? What kinds of communities, affinities, and identities did Africans create after being uprooted by the slave trade? What methods do scholars use to understand this history? And finally, what is the modern legacy of the Black Atlantic? Class time will be divided between lecture, small and large group discussion.
Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hicks.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as BLST 203 [D], ENGL 216, and SWAG 203) The term “Women Writers” suggests, and perhaps assumes, a particular category. How useful is this term in describing the writers we tend to include under the frame? And further, how useful are the designations "African" and "African Diaspora"? We will begin by critically examining these central questions, and revisit them frequently as we read specific texts and the body of works included in this course. Our readings comprise a range of literary and scholarly works by canonical and more recent female writers from Africa, the Caribbean, and continental America. Framed primarily by Postcolonial Criticism, our explorations will center on how writers treat historical and contemporary issues specifically connected to women’s experiences, as well as other issues, such as globalization, modernity, and sexuality. We will consider the continuities and points of departure between writers, periods, and regions, and explore the significance of the writers’ stylistic choices. Here our emphasis will be on how writers appropriate vernacular and conventional modes of writing.
Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Prof. C. Bailey.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as BLST 204 [A] and MUSI 105) This course focuses on twentieth-century African popular music; it examines musical genres from different parts of the continent, investigating their relationships to the historical, political and social dynamics of their respective national and regional origins. Regional examples like highlife, soukous, chimurenga, and afro-beate will be studied to assess the significance of popular music as a creative response to social and political developments in colonial and postcolonial Africa. The course also discusses the growth of hip-hop music in selected countries by exploring how indigenous cultural tropes have provided the basis for its local appropriation. Themes explored in this course include the use of music in the construction of identity; popular music, politics and resistance; the interaction of local and global elements; and the political significance of musical nostalgia.
Omitted 2021-22. Limited to 30 students. Five College Professor Omojola.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as BLST 208 [A/D] and HIST 211 [AF]) As the crisis of the postcolonial nation-state deepens in the context of globalization and statism in African countries especially in the last three decades, African societies have experienced significant migration of skilled and unskilled workers. These migration flows are raising new questions about the nature of politics, economics, and culture in various African national and transnational contexts. To explore the political, social, and economic consequences of these waves of migration in African states and among countries receiving African migrants, this course will examine the following topics at the core of the transformation of African states in the global age: colonialism and the construction of modern African states; globalization and political legitimacy in postcolonial African states; globalization and African labor migration; globalization and African popular culture; globalization and Africa's new religious movements; globalization and Africa's refugee crisis; Africa and globalization of the media; Africa and the global discourse on gender and sexuality; Africa and the global discourse on AIDS/HIV; Africa and the globalization of football (soccer). Course readings will focus not only on the impact of globalization and state crisis on African societies, but also on how emerging national and transnational African populations are shaping the processes of globalization.
Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Vaughan.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as BLST 210 [A] HIST 210 [AF] and RELI 220) The course will examine the central role of Christianity and Islam in pre-colonial, colonial, and postcolonial African societies. Focusing on case studies from West Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, and Southern Africa, course lectures will explore the following issues in African religious, social, and political history: Christianity, Islam, and African indigenous belief systems; Muslim reformist movements in West African societies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; mission Christianity and African societies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; Christianity, Islam, and colonialism in Africa; Christianity, Islam, and politics in postcolonial African states.
Spring semester. Professor Vaughan.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as HIST 284 [AF/TE/TRP] and BLST 211 [A]) The African continent has been called by one historian the social laboratory of humanity. Art, trade, small-scale manufacturing, medical knowledge, religion, state systems, history and legend all flourished before the formal political take-over of the continent by European powers in the late nineteenth century. It is this varied history of states and cultures in the period before 1885 that this course will examine. The course will explore four topics in depth: slave-ownership within African societies and the impact of both the trans-Atlantic and East African slave trades; the interaction of religion and power on the rise and fall of the central African kingdom of Kongo; the genesis of the Zulu state in southern Africa and the historical evidence behind the contradictory histories of Tshaka; and the changing roles of women as economic, political, and social actors. We will discuss some of the differences between oral historical narratives and written ones to understand both the history of the people living on the continent as well as the active process of writing and interpreting that history. Two class meetings per week.
Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Redding.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ENGL 278 and BLST 212 [A]) This course will examine how African writers incorporate digital technologies into their work when they publish traditional print texts, experiment with digital formats, or use the internet to redefine their relationship to local and international audiences. We will reflect on how words and values shift in response to new forms of mediation; on the limits these forms place on the bodies they represent, and on the protections they occasionally offer. Students will read fictional works in print, serialized narratives on blogs, as well as other literary products that circulate via social media. Students also will be introduced to a selection of digital humanities tools that will assist them in accessing, analyzing and responding to these works. Course materials include print, digital and hybrid publications by Oyono, Farah, Adichie, Cole, Maphoto, and Wainaina, among others.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Cobham-Sander.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as BLST 220 [US] and HIST 220[US/TR/TS]) The impact of slavery is still with us in the United States, and it is essential that we examine this institution and look critically at the ways Americans have chosen to remember it over the years. The first part of this interdisciplinary course examines how slavery has been understood by historians, examining historical questions such as what the relationship was between slavery and racism, how gender influenced the experiences of enslaved people, and how the enslaved resisted slavery. The second part of the course examines how slavery has been depicted in American culture, using the novels Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Beloved; the films Way Down South, Django Unchained, and 12 Years a Slave; and the work of artist Kara Walker, among other sources. We will pay attention to controversies over how slavery is remembered, including the recent backlash against the 1619 Project. As we explore slavery and the memory of slavery, we will also discuss to what extent the ways we view the past are shaped by the times in which we live.
Fall semester. Limited to 20 students. Associate Professor Herbin-Triant.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as BLST 226[D], LLAS 226 and SWAG 226) This course focuses on Black Queer and Trans life and struggle as well as the cultural and intellectual contributions Black Queer and Trans have made to in numerous fields throughout the Americas (North and South). While for many years narratives of the lives of Black LGBTQ people have been silenced and erased due to stigma and intersectional oppression on the basis of race, gender, and sexuality, scholars and artists in the past four decades have worked to recover the stories of Black Queer and Trans communities throughout the diaspora. The Black Queer/Trans Americas will dive into works that highlight these cultural contributions, while also understanding the compounded systemic violence that Black LGBTQ communities have faced and continue to face. By the end of this course students will have a strong understanding of how systems of power work to restrict the freedoms of Black Queer and Trans communities, and how Black LGBTQ people have lived, organized, and created in spite of and in response to these oppressions. This interdisciplinary undergraduate upper level course will utilize academic texts accompanied by poetry, fiction, film, television, and visual art to understand Black Queer and Trans subjectivities. In addition to course materials, the class will also make use of presentations from local artists, activists, and community members in the local area to add to the course experience. Every week will focus on a different theme or field of study related to Black LGBTQ+ life.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Poe.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 247 [US/TR/TS/P]; or may be included in AF concentration, but not AF for distribution in the History major and BLST 231 [US] ) This course is a survey of the history of African American men and women from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries through the Civil War and Reconstruction. The content is a mixture of the social, cultural, and political history of blacks during two and a half centuries of slavery with the story of the black freedom struggle and its role in America’s national development. Among the major topics addressed: the slave trade in its moral and economic dimensions; African retentions in African American culture; origins of racism in colonial America; how blacks used the rhetoric and reality of the American and Haitian Revolutions to their advancement; antebellum slavery; black religion and family under slavery and freedom; the free black experience in the North and South; the crises of the 1850s; the role of race and slavery in the causes, course, and consequences of the Civil War; and the meaning of emancipation and Reconstruction for blacks. Readings include historical monographs, slave narratives by men and women, and one work of fiction.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Moss.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 249 [TR/TS] and BLST 232 [US]) There may be no more revolutionary moment in American history than the political and social experiment of Reconstruction. Between 1865 and 1877, questions of power, citizenship, and democracy were contested as never before. And for subsequent generations, American society has been indelibly shaped by the eventual victory of Reconstruction's opponents. Simply put, how we understand the history of this often-misunderstood, if not outright-ignored, era matters. In that regard, there may be no more revolutionary contribution to the historiography of the United States than W.E.B. Du Bois' Black Reconstruction in America. Published in 1935, Du Bois' work rebutted dominant characterizations of the nation's "tragic era," calling attention to the democratic strivings of freedpeople and the intensity of resistance to a world--and a racial order--temporarily turned upside down. This course will use the text to explore the history of Reconstruction and the politics of historical interpretation, and to locate Du Bois' contributions to the black intellectual tradition, particularly with regard to Du Bois' development as a pioneering theorist of race and class. Over the course of the semester, we will take a broad view of Black Reconstruction, utilizing a range of archival resources to understand the book's creation, reception and the broader politics of race in the New Deal era. We will also use the book to think about Reconstruction memory, and the ways it has informed debates about the realities and possibilities of American democracy in subsequent moments of social upheaval.
Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hickmott.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as BLST 236 [US] and SWAG 235) From the modern era to the contemporary moment, the intersection of race, gender, and class has been especially salient for people of African descent—for men as well as for women. How might the category of sexuality act as an additional optic through which to view and reframe contemporary and historical debates concerning the construction of black identity? In what ways have traditional understandings of masculinity and femininity contributed to an understanding of African American life and culture as invariably heterosexual? How have black lesbian, gay, and transgendered persons effected political change through their theoretical articulations of identity, difference, and power? In this interdisciplinary course, we will address these questions through an examination of the complex roles gender and sexuality play in the lives of people of African descent. Remaining attentive to the ways black people have claimed social and sexual agency in spite of systemic modes of inequality, we will engage with critical race theory, black feminist thought, queer-of-color critique, literature, art, film, “new media” and erotica, as well as scholarship from anthropology, sociology, and history.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as AMST 216 and BLST 240 [CLA/US]) Who is an “Afro-Latino”? Are they Latinos or are they Black? Afro-Latinos are African-descended peoples from Latin America and the Caribbean who reside in the United States. In this course, a focus on Afro-Latinos allows us to study the history of racial ideologies and racial formation in the Americas.
We take a multi-layered approach to the study of modern Afro-Latino history (late nineteenth century to the twentieth century). First, the history of Afro-Latinos has been shaped by the historical relationship between race and nation in Latin America. Therefore, we look closely at the varied histories of African-descended peoples in Latin American countries. Second, the historical relationship between the United States and Latin America has shaped the experience of Afro-Latinos who reside in the U.S. The long history of U.S. economic dominance and military interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean generated an equally long history of Latin American migration to the U.S. In the twentieth century black migrants came from nations that promoted myths of racial democracy to a nation that practiced racial segregation and violence. Afro-Latino migrants experienced racial segregation and violence in the U.S. in ways similar to but different than other Latinos and African Americans. Therefore, third, we examine the history of Afro-Latinos in relation to Latinos in the U.S. The history of Latinos is at the core of U.S. continental expansion, labor practices, and exclusionary citizenship. The category “Latino” has also been shaped by racial hierarchies. The relatively new category of “Afro-Latino” allows us to examine a history that has been silenced within the broader categories of “Latino” or “African American.”
In this course, we examine how Afro-Latinos maneuvered between different racial contexts in Latin American nations and the United States. It is a history that highlights the competing and conflicting racial ideologies that have shaped the Americas.
Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor del Moral.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 248 [US/TR/TS; or may be included in AF concentration, but not AF for distribution in the History major], and BLST 241[US]) This course surveys African-American history from Emancipation through the Trump presidency, exploring topics such as Reconstruction, the age of Jim Crow, the Great Migration and Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movements. Major questions to be addressed include the following: What visions for freedom did African Americans hold in the aftermath of slavery? How have black Americans fought to secure social, economic, and political rights? How has government both supported and subverted black people’s efforts to lay claim to citizenship? How have gender and capitalism shaped the lives and labors of black Americans? What have been the afterlives of slavery and segregation in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, particularly in the areas of voting rights, housing, mass incarceration, policing, and health outcomes? Students will use both primary and secondary sources to investigate how—in the face of numerous challenges—African Americans created vibrant new cultures, accumulated property, built strong communities, and challenged the United States to live up to its founding ideals. Readings include foundational texts in modern African-American history, including writings by Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Michelle Obama, among others. Two meetings per week.Spring semester. Limited to 25 students. Professor Herbin-Triant.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as HIST 250 [US/TR] and BLST 245) This course will explore the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Through a deep engagement with his published work and public rhetoric, relevant secondary literature, and personal papers, students will locate the civil rights leader within the broader upheavals of mid-century America. As such, the course serves as an introduction to modern US history, the black freedom struggle, and the archive of civil rights. Moving beyond mythology, this course will emphasize his connections to American liberalism, the labor movement, the black prophetic tradition and human rights. As such, this course will excavate the radical King, a man whose life and work often challenged the liberal consensus on questions of class, race, and empire, and thus questions later ahistorical characterizations of the Civil Rights Movement as either “moderate” or “conservative.” Two class meetings per week.
Not offered in 2021-22.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as BLST 248 [US] and HIST 246 [TR/US]) An unconventional history of capitalism, this course explores the various ways African Americans have experienced and responded to shifts in the organization of the American economy. Beginning with the middle passage and creation of plantation slavery in the New World, we will explore the commodification of African Americans' labor, and the ways in which that labor became a cornerstone of capital accumulation, both globally and in the United States. We continue through the revolutions of emancipation, the rise of Jim Crow and the making of urban America, to our present day reality of deeply rooted, and racialized, economic inequality. More than a history of exploitation, however, we will address the various ways in which African Americans chose to manage both the challenges and possibilities of American capitalist development. How, for instance, did black ownership of real estate in the segregated South shape Jim Crow governance? To what extent has black business contributed toward struggles for political and social equality? Finally, we will assess the numerous black critics, including intellectuals, activists and working African Americans, of the American political economy. How have such men and women called attention to the ways race and class have combined to shape both black lives and black political subjectivity?
Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hickmott.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ARHA 257, ARCH 257, and BLST 253) Creole dwellings were first erected by enslaved builders working under Diego Colón (the son of Christopher Columbus) on the island of Hispaniola. By the end of the first wave of European expansion in the early nineteenth century, the creole style existed across imperial domains in the Caribbean, North and South America, Africa, the Indian Ocean, and even Asia. We will examine the global diffusion of this architectural typology from its emergence in the Spanish Caribbean to its florescence in British and French India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In doing so, we will address buildings and towns in former Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonies worldwide. Some of the urban centers that we will engage include: Kingston, Jamaica; Pondicherry, India; Cape Town, South Africa; Cartagena, Colombia; Saint-Louis, Senegal; and Macau, China. In investigating both creole structures and the cities that harbored such forms, we will think through the social and economic factors that caused buildings and urban areas to display marked continuities despite geographical and imperial distinctions.
Limited to 34 students.
Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.
(Offered as BLST 291 [A/D] and HIST 291) This course will critically examine seminal works on African and African diaspora thought since the eighteenth century and will explore the following major issues: the consolidation of Atlantic slavery in the eighteenth century, the anti-slavery struggle in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Black freedom movements in the twentieth century, and the consolidation and fall of colonialism in Africa and the Caribbean in the twentieth century. Discussed in their appropriate historical context, the course will explore anti-slavery, pan-Africanist, Black feminist, and Black nationalist thinkers, notably Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Olaudah Equiano, Thomas Fowell Buxton, W. E. B. Du Bois, Edward Blyden, Alexander Crummell, Frantz Fanon, Claudia Jones, and Angela Davis.
Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Vaughan.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ARHA 270 and BLST 293 [D]) The course of study will examine those African cultures and their arts that have survived and shaped the aesthetic, philosophic and religious patterns of African descendants in Brazil, Cuba, Haiti and urban centers in North America. We shall explore the modes of transmission of African artistry to the West and examine the significance of the preservation and transformation of artistic forms from the period of slavery to our own day. Through the use of films, slides and objects, we shall explore the depth and diversity of this vital artistic heritage of Afro-Americans.
Fall semester. Professor Abiodun.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as BLST 294 [D], SWAG 294 and EUST 294) This research-based seminar considers the enduring presence of people of African descent in Europe from the nineteenth century to the contemporary moment, a fact that both confounds and extends canonical theories of African diaspora and black internationalism. Focusing particularly on the histories of black people in Britain, Germany, and France, this course will take an interdisciplinary approach in its study of the African diaspora in Europe. We will examine literature, history, film, art and ephemera, as well as newly available pre-1927 audio recordings from Bear Family Records (http://www.black-europe.com/) in effort to better comprehend the materiality of the black European experience. These inquiries will enable us to comment upon the influence black people continue to have upon Europe today. Reading the central texts in the emerging field of Black European Studies—including African American expatriate memoirs, Afro-German feminist poetry, and black British cultural theory—student work will culminate in an annotated bibliography and a multimedia research project.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as AMST 296, BLST 296 [D] and SWAG 296). This course explores the transnational politics of race, gender, sexuality, and health from interdisciplinary perspectives. It engages a range of texts and methodologies that locate the historical and contemporary experiences of Afro-diasporic women and girls in the struggle for embodied freedom, autonomy, and reproductive justice. We will draw on examples from Africa and the African diaspora (U.S., the Caribbean, and Latin America) as we engage the main debates in reproductive justice around key issues: sexual and reproductive health and rights; HIV/AIDS; sexual autonomy and choice; sterilization; police brutality; the right to bear children; abortion. The course will also introduce students to theories about health and illness, embodiment and subjectivity, critical race theory, ethnography, black feminist theory, and postcolonial health science studies. Class field trips to reproductive justice organizations will also provide an experiential component that grounds our inquiries.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Post-Doctoral Fellow Jolly.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
[R] This seminar prepares students to conduct independent research. Although it concentrates on the field of Black Studies, it serves as a good introductory research course for all students in the humanities and social sciences regardless of major. The first part of the course will intensively introduce students to the library through a series of readings, exercises, and discussions aimed at sharpening the ability to locate information precisely and efficiently. The second part of the course will introduce research methods in three important areas of Black Studies: the arts, history, and the social sciences. Faculty members of the Black Studies Department, departmental affiliates, and visitors will join the class to present their own ongoing research, placing particular emphasis on the disciplinary methods and traditions of inquiry that guide their efforts. Also in the second part, through individual meetings with professors, students will begin developing their own research projects. The third part of the course will concentrate more fully on development of these projects through a classroom workshop. Here students will learn how to shape a topic into a research question, build a bibliography, annotate a bibliography, shape a thesis, develop an outline, and write a research proposal, or prospectus.
This course is required of Black Studies majors. It is open to non-majors with the consent of the instructor. Although BLST 111 and 200 are not required for admission, preference will go to those who have taken one or both of these courses.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professors Cobham-Sanders, Jolly, and Herbin-Triant.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as AMST 301, ARCH 261 and BLST 301) How might the built environment impact how we perceive, understand, and experience race? How has the built environment been used to confine, segregate, and choreograph racialized bodies? This course will examine the different ways architecture and design have lent themselves to processes of racialization, from embodied experiences of race within the built environment to racialized representations of architectural structures. The focus of this class will be architecture’s relationship to race, but what falls under the term architecture will be expansive, including objects and rhetoric from urban planning, geography, real estate, and design studies. Similarly, this course will attend to race in an expansive way—namely, as it is complicated and structured by gender, wealth inequality, and sexuality. This course’s approach to architecture and race is interdisciplinary at the level of course readings and assignments. Course readings will span the humanities and also include artistic and architectural projects. Three main goals of this course are to (1) identify how the built environment has been used historically to create, mark, and represent race; (2) deploy key theories of race to assess how racialization occurs through built objects and the process of design; and (3) reflect on our own racialized experiences within the built environment.
Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22 Visiting Lecturer Sandoval.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as SWAG 279, BLST 302, and ENGL 279) What do we mean by “women’s fiction”? How do we understand women’s genres in different national contexts? This course examines topics in feminist thought such as marriage, sexuality, desire and the home in novels written by women writers from South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. We will draw on postcolonial literary theory, essays on transnational feminism and historical studies to situate our analyses of these novels. Texts include South African writer Nadine Gordimer’s July's People, Pakistani novelist Bapsi Sidhwa's Cracking India, and Caribbean author Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea.
Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as LJST 206 and BLST 307) The goal of this course will be to understand some of the problems posed for legal studies in the humanities by the emergence of the system of administrative and constitutional law known as apartheid. This system, which was designed to institute “separate development for separate peoples” in South Africa, is widely and rightly regarded to be among the most inhuman régimes of the twentieth century. Yet even and especially today, more than a decade after its formal end in South Africa, apartheid’s social, economic, and epistemic conditions of possibility, as well as the place and function of lawyers, legal discourse, and legal scholars in the resistance to it, remains at best vaguely understood.
This course is designed to remedy this gap. Our inquiry will be at once specific and general. Under what economic and political conditions did apartheid come into being? What legal traditions and practices authorized its codification? What academic disciplines and intellectual formations rendered it intelligible and enabled its theorization? What specific arrangement of juridical institutions, practices, and theories together comprised the apartheid state? What was the place and function of law in the critique of and resistance to apartheid? What new and specific problems did apartheid pose for legal theory?
Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Sitze.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as BLST 313 [A] and ARHA 138) In the traditionally non-literate societies of Africa, verbal and visual arts constitute two systems of communication. The performance of verbal art and the display of visual art are governed by social and cultural rules. We will examine the epistemological process of understanding cultural symbols, of visualizing narratives, or proverbs, and of verbalizing sculptures or designs. Focusing on the Yoruba people of West Africa, the course will attempt to interpret the language of their verbal and visual arts and their interrelations in terms of cultural cosmologies, artistic performances, and historical changes in perception and meaning. We will explore new perspectives in the critical analysis of African verbal and visual arts, and their interdependence as they support each other through mutual references and allusions. In addition to visiting the Mead Art Museum to see African works, students will be required to listen to audio-recordings and engage selected visual images to enhance their understanding of the interrelationship of arts in Africa.
Fall semester. Professor Abiodun.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as HIST 314 [US/TR/TS], BLST 314 [US] and EDST 314) What are the limits and possibilities of students engaging in social justice movements within a college campus and beyond? Which political issues have sparked student movements in the United States, and why? Why do some student movements succeed, why do others fail, and how might one define and evaluate the meaning of success? How have student movements in higher education and beyond changed over time? Centering the experience of African American learners, this course surveys the history of student activism for freedom and racial equality during Reconstruction and Jim Crow; the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement; and, the Movement for Black Lives. In particular, this course will explore how students have fought to secure freedom, equality, and citizenship through education. Students will also critically engage with how other social movements have influenced campus campaigns. Course materials include historical monographs, scholarly articles, primary sources, and video/audio media. Assignments likely include an exam, a book review, a research paper, and an oral presentation. Limited to 25 students. This class will meet once per week.
Fall semester. Professor Bradley.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as BLST 315 [A] and ARHA 353) Through a contrastive analysis of the religious and artistic modes of expression in three West African societies—the Asanti of the Guinea Coast, and the Yoruba and Igbo peoples of Nigeria—the course will explore the nature and logic of symbols in an African cultural context. We shall address the problem of cultural symbols in terms of African conceptions of performance and the creative play of the imagination in ritual acts, masked festivals, music, dance, oral histories, and the visual arts as they provide the means through which cultural heritage and identity are transmitted and preserved, while, at the same time, being the means for innovative responses to changing social circumstances.
Spring semester. Professor Abiodun.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
This capstone course will examine major historical, political, and cultural themes that shaped the processes of state-society formations in precolonial, colonial, and post-colonial Africa. Course lectures and discussions on a wide range of themes will draw on various texts, including primary documents, secondary scholarly works, documentary films, and digital materials. Following background lectures, scholars from the Five College Africanist community will lead seminar discussions of specific case studies drawn from their specialty on various regions across the African continent.
Requisite: At least three Five-College courses in African Studies or consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 students. Preference for juniors and seniors. Omitted 2021-22. Five College Africanist faculty.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 318 [TC/TR/TS] and BLST 318 [US]) This course will delve into the sociopolitical, economic, and cultural factors that affected the lives of Black youth in the United States during the 1980s. Using rap and hip hop as a tool to understand the decade, the course will explore the racialized implications of America’s cold war with the Soviet Union while detailing the societal impact of “Reaganomics.” In a period featuring culture wars, deindustrialization in urban areas, the arrival of crack cocaine, deep cuts to public school funding, and the invasion of HIV/AIDS, the bourgeoning genre of hip hop reflected the complexities of survival for many Black youth in marginalized American neighborhoods. As the new artform became a business, America witnessed the realization of a conservative ascendancy that carried Ronald Reagan to the presidency, which transformed political discourse for the subsequent decades. Young scholars in this class will be required to engage book and article-length texts, access and analyze song lyrics, critique visual media, write cogent essays, and present arguments orally.
Spring semester. Professor Bradley.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 488 [AF/TE/TR] and BLST 321 [A]) There were numerous rebellions against the state during the period of European colonial rule. Violent resistance to state authority has continued to characterize political life in many post-colonial African countries. This seminar will examine the development of several outbreaks of violence in Africa in the colonial and post-colonial periods to explore critical historical questions in a comparative context. We will look at the economic, social, religious, and political roots of these disturbances. Rebel groups and the states challenged roiled societies and reconstituted social identities, while legends and rumors swirled around rebellions and their leaders. We will focus on insurgencies and their origins, including spiritual and religious beliefs, disputes over land and labor, and fights against colonial and post-colonial authoritarian states. We will discuss the problems historians face in researching revolts whose strength often stemmed from their protean character. The seminar will study specific revolts, including the Herero Revolt and subsequent genocide in German-controlled South-West Africa in 1904-1907; the first (1896-1897) Chimurenga (revolts) in Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe; the Mau Mau revolt in colonial Kenya, the Black Consciousness Movement and the student revolt in Soweto, South Africa in 1976; and the Holy Spirit Movement and the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda in the 1990s. The seminar's goal is to engage students in a scholarly conversation about resistance to colonial and authoritarian rule in Africa and the resort to violence as a means of forcing political change. Students will also learn how to frame a research question and engage in researching a historical topic based on primary sources. Requirements include active participation in class, the completion of several short graded and ungraded written assignments, and the final 20 to 25-page research paper on an individually chosen topic. The successful completion of the research paper will satisfy the Research requirement for the History major. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Redding.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as HIST 283 [AF/TE/TR/TSP] and BLST 322) The transition from white-minority rule in South Africa in 1994 seemed to usher in a new era of independence and democracy in the troubled country. The last bastion of white-supremacist colonial rule had fallen. But that transition has not lived up to the high expectations of South Africans. Although many more people now have a political voice, government institutions and significant economic institutions have remained mostly unchanged. In fact, economic and social inequality has increased in the twenty-seven years since Nelson Mandela was first elected President. Questions about whether South Africans can move beyond the legacy of the past haunt the current population.
South African history is undergoing radical shifts in the way it is written, read, and interpreted. This course will explore established and emerging themes in the history of this fascinating country. We will cover a broad period from just before the beginning of white settlement in the mid-1600s to the present. The focus will be on understanding how South African populations have confronted and engaged with colonial rule, profound cultural changes, and the development of an oppressively unequal economic system. What are the roots of the current situation, and how do they shape and constrain future possibilities? How do people in contemporary South Africa confront the ideas that have shaped their understanding of their own country as they reconstruct their history?
Fall semester. Professor Redding.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Diamonds (Guns and Money): An African History of a Precious Commodity
(Offered as HIST 326 [AF/TE/TR] and BLST 326) Diamonds have a long history in global trade, and for centuries they were scarce enough to be among the most precious commodities. But in 1867 the discovery of diamonds in a remote part of the Cape Colony in southern Africa turned them into a commodity that helped to finance the construction of the British empire on the continent through conquest and African labor. The diamond industry that emerged also developed a mass retail market in the gem as a symbol of marital love and respectability, a marketing feat that masked the harsh realities of their production. More recent diamond discoveries in Africa and elsewhere have been implicated in enough revolts, secessionist movements, and arms deals to earn the label “conflict diamonds” for the gems coming out of those regions. We will trace the history of diamonds on the continent from their discoveries through the development of mining and labor systems, the creation of the global consumer market, and the use of diamonds as a source of revenue for aspiring empire-builders and revolutionaries. Two class meetings per week. Limited to 25 students.
Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Redding.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as MUSI 226 and BLST 334 [US]) One of two courses that trace the development of jazz from its emergence in early 20th-century New Orleans to its profound impact on American culture. This course examines its early roots in late 19th-century American popular culture and its role as American popular music in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s. Using themes that connect the evolution of jazz practices to social and racial politics in American popular culture, we will look closely at the work of well-known historical figures (Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, and several others) as well as the vibrant communities that nurtured and prompted their innovative musical practices. As an exception for fall semester of 2020, students may petition to have the course fulfill a departmental seminar requirement for the Music major. Students wishing to do this will be required to complete an additional research project.
Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Robinson.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as SOCI 334 and BLST 336 [US]) Being “white” is typically treated as a default identity in the United States, yet whiteness remains relatively unexamined as a source of accumulated institutional advantages and cultural entitlements. This course will interrogate prevailing constructions of whiteness, examining its origins as a racial category, its function as group identity and source of individual meaning-making, and its role in reproducing racial hierarchy. Drawing on historical, theoretical, literary, and sociological accounts, our aim will be to contextualize whiteness as a discourse of power. The course will focus primarily, but not exclusively, on the United States, from the pre-Civil Rights era through the contemporary passage from colorblind to nationalist constructions of whiteness.
Requisite: SOCI 112 or equivalent. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 20 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Lembo.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as HIST 338 [US/TR/TS] and BLST 338 [US]) This course examines U.S. history—particularly the history of the South—during the era of Jim Crow, the period between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement when African Americans were systematically denied political and social rights. The right to vote, for example, granted after the Civil War through the Fifteenth Amendment, was limited by the southern states through policies like the poll tax and the literacy test. African Americans were also subject to segregation and racial violence during the age of Jim Crow. This course examines the visions white southerners held for what their region should be in this period, as well as the varied black responses—which include accommodationism (with Booker T. Washington as the most prominent advocate for this), protest, and migration out of the region. In examining the life and death of Jim Crow—and how Jim Crow has been depicted in literature and film—the course grapples with changing ideas about race and rights, including “states’ rights” and the rights of individuals, both black and white. Two meetings per week.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Herbin-Triant2022-23: Not offered
[D] This course will guide the capstone projects of students interested in conducting intensive research on topics in African American studies and African & African diaspora studies. Drawing from disciplinary and interdisciplinary methodologies, theories, and concepts in the humanities and social sciences, capstone research topics will cover broadly defined themes in Black Studies such as the effects of Atlantic slavery on the United States, the Americas, Africa, and Europe; the Black freedom struggle in the United States; women, gender, and sexuality in Black America, the African diaspora, and Africa; colonialism and independence in Africa and the Caribbean. Through a collaborative learning process, the capstone experience will work with students to define clear research objectives, refine their analytical skills, effectively engage major issues in their research materials, and make critical intellectual interventions. Students will be encouraged to critically explore research topics from courses they have taken in Black Studies and related disciplines as topics for their capstone research projects. Where appropriate, relevant films and videos will be available for critical analysis.
Omitted 2021-2022. Limited to 15 students. Not open to first-year students. Professor Vaughan.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as MUSI 227 and BLST 344 [US]) One of two courses that trace the development of jazz from its emergence in early 20th-century New Orleans to its profound impact on American culture. This course explores the emergence of bebop in the 1940s, the shift of jazz's relationship with American popular culture after World War II, and the dramatic pluralization of jazz practice after the 1950s. We will also look at the emergence of fusion and the jazz avant-garde of the 1960s and 1970s, and theorize the reformulation of "tradition" during the 1980s. Central to our examination will be the phenomenon of "neoclassicism" common in jazz discourse today, measuring that against the radical diversity of jazz practice around the world. Many figures central to the development of the varied post-bebop directions in jazz will be discussed: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Ornette Coleman, the New York Downtown scene, and many others. Two class meetings per week.
Omitted 2021-22. Professor Harper.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as BLST 347 [US] and SWAG 347) From the aftermath of the Civil War to today's "global war on terror," the U.S. military has functioned as a vital arbiter of the overlapping taxonomies of race, gender, and sexuality in America and around the world. This course examines the global trek of American militarism through times of war and peace in the twentieth century. In a variety of texts and contexts, we will investigate how the U.S. military's production of new ideas about race and racialization, masculinity and femininity, and sexuality and citizenship impacted the lives of soldiers and civilians, men and women, at "home" and abroad. Our interdisciplinary focus will allow us to study the multiple intersections of difference within the military, enabling us to address a number of topics, including: How have African American soldiers functioned as both subjects and agents of American militarism? What role has the U.S. military played in the creation of contemporary gay and lesbian subjectivity? Is military sexual assault a contemporary phenomenon or can it be traced to longer practices of sexual exploitation occurring on or around U.S. bases globally?
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as HIST-355 [US/TR/TS] and BLST-355) This interdisciplinary seminar blends African American history; urban history; and the history of education to explore the relationship between race, schools, and inequality in American society. In 1935, W.E.B. Du Bois credited the creation and expansion of public education in the South to African Americans’ educational activism in the aftermath of slavery. And yet, race has historically delineated access to public schooling, and by extension, economic, political, and civic equality. In this course, we will ask how and why race and educational opportunity have structured and subverted civic inclusion, racial justice, and socio-economic equality. We will focus on African Americans’ efforts to secure literacy, schooling, and higher education, with an emphasis on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
In the first part of the course, we will consider why Americans created a public school system and how race influenced the formation of this critical social institution. Next, we will query how African Americans debated the relationship between education and liberation, particularly after Reconstruction and during the Long Civil Rights Movement. Here, we will focus on African Americans’ legal and grassroots efforts to advance school desegregation, and the backlash against its implementation in northern and southern cities. Along the way, we will assess the meaning and value of integration, and ask how, why, and to what extent school desegregation has promoted and subverted equal opportunity. Then, we will explore how policy makers have attempted to use education as a social welfare institution, particularly in an effort to redress segregated housing and unequal labor markets. We will trace the relationship between public schools and evolution of the welfare state, and reflect upon the power and limitations of Americans’ unique dependence on schooling to equalize opportunity. Finally, we will consider how race continues to inform contemporary reform efforts including school choice, Afro-centric education, and school discipline, among others. Course assignments will consist of weekly responses; two short papers; and one longer essay designed to allow students to delve into some aspect of the course in depth. This course can be used to complete the seminar requirement in History, upon consultation with the instructor.
Not offered in 2021-22. Limited to 18 students. Professor Moss.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 361, BLST 361, and ENGL 276) Through a close reading of texts by African American authors, we will critically examine literary form and technique alongside the representation of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Coupled with our explication of poems, short stories, novels, and literary criticism, we will explore the stakes of adaptation in visual culture. Students will analyze the film and television adaptations of twentieth-century fiction. Authors will include Toni Morrison, Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Walker, and Gloria Naylor. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.
Limited to 18 students. Priority given to those students who attend the first day of the class. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as ENGL 318, BLST 362 [A/CLA], and LLAS 362) The course will concentrate on Caribbean authors. It explores the process of self-definition in literary works from Africa and the Caribbean that are built around child protagonists. We will examine the authors’ various methods of ordering experience through the choice of literary form and narrative technique, as well as the child/author’s perception of his or her society. French texts will be read in translation.
Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as BLST 363 [CLA], HIST 463 [AF/TC/TE/TS/TR/P] and LLAS 463) In this course students will consult, analyze, and employ a variety of sources, including the accounts of missionaries, journals of slave traders, the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, and the few available slave narratives written by Africans. Students will be presented with the tools to write original research on topics including the involvement of Western African societies in the slave trade, the logistics of the Middle Passage, characteristics of the captives transported from Africa to the Americas, and the Africans' own experiences of the Middle Passage and adaptation to the slave régimes of the Americas. Students will write a series of short assignments leading up to a major research paper of 20-25 pages.
Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Lohse.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ENGL 357 and BLST 365 [US]) When we say “race relations,” we are using a phrase drawn from early twentieth-century American sociology, a phrase that conjures up a scenario in which already-existing racial groups are separated by prejudice and misunderstanding. As many sociologists and historians have argued, we need a new paradigm, one that implies neither that race is a primordial reality nor that racism is merely an information problem. In this course, we will be using histories of the race-concept and theories emerging from the “relational turn” in psychoanalysis to explore the interplay of race and relationality in American literature written between the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law (1850) and Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The aim of this necessarily experimental course is to see what happens if we combine a historically informed understanding of the race-concept with a psychoanalytically informed understanding of relationality and bring both of those understandings to bear on works like Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, William Wells Brown’s Clotel, Herman Melville’s “Benito Cereno,” Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson, Nella Larsen’s Passing, and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. All of the varieties of American racial identification will be part of our discussions but the focus will be on the literary evocations of white-black conjunctions.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Sanborn.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 368, BLST 368 and ENGL 368) History has long valorized passive, obedient, and long-suffering African American women alongside assertive male protagonists and savants. This course provides an alternative narrative to this representation by exploring the ways in which African American female characters, writers, and artists have challenged ideals of stoicism and submission. Using an interdisciplinary focus, we will critically examine transgression across time and space in diverse twentieth- and early twenty-first century literary, sonic, and visual texts. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.
Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Priority given to students who attend the first day of class. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Independent reading course.
Fall and spring semesters. The Department.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2023
(Offered as RUSS 252, BLST 392 and FAMS 352) This course focuses on the modes by which race has been represented in Russian and Soviet culture. We approach this topic in two ways: first, we examine how Russian and Soviet culture grappled with questions of race, focusing on episodes in the representation of minority peoples throughout the empire and the Soviet Union; secondly, we consider how Russian and Soviet culture served as a mirror in which minorities from other countries saw their experiences partially reflected or as a source from which they found models to articulate their own experience of race. These two concerns guide us through the course as we study such works as Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground as it enters into dialogue with Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man and Leonid Tsypkin’s Summer in Baden Baden; the representation of Central Asia by such figures as Langston Hughes and Andrei Platonov; the appeal of the Soviet Union to Western intellectuals, in particular African-American thinkers and writers, from W.E.B. Du Bois, Hughes, and Claude McKay; Alexander Pushkin and the question of his “blackness” and universality; the cinematic representation of minorities in the films of Dziga Vertov and Vsevolod Pudovkin. We will draw our critical theoretical models from Homi Bhabha, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Patricia Hall Collins, Johannes Fabian, Stuart Hall, and Mary Louise Pratt, among others.
Fall semester. Professor Kunichika.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 455 [US/TR/TS] and BLST 431 [US]) This course will explore the temporal, ideological and cultural dimensions of the American Civil Rights Movement. Following 1954’s Brown vs Board of Education decision, a diverse social movement of students, preachers, working people, activists and intellectuals challenged—and eventually dismantled—Jim Crow segregation in the American South. How did this happen? To answer this question, we will examine the origins of the movement, its institutional dimensions, its key figures, and its intellectual underpinnings. In addition, this course will trace the afterlife of the movement, assessing its national and global reverberations, as well as its relationship to the Black Power movement. As a research seminar, this course will culminate in the production of a 25-page research paper based on an analysis of primary sources related to the movement. One class meeting per week.
Not open to first-year students. Limited to 18 students. Spring term. Professor Bradley.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ENGL 491, BLST 461 [CLA], and LLAS 461) What would it mean to write in the language in which we dream? A language that we can hear, but cannot (yet) see? Is it possible to conceive a language outside the socio-symbolic order? And can one language subvert the codes and values of another? Questions like these have animated the creolité/nation language debate among Caribbean intellectuals since the mid-1970s, producing some of the most significant francophone and anglophone writing of the twentieth century. This course reads across philosophy, cultural theory, politics, and literature in order to consider the claims such works make for the Creole imagination. We will engage the theoretical and creative work of Édouard Glissant, Maryse Condé, Wilson Harris, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Patrick Chamoiseau, Jamaica Kincaid, and Edwidge Danticat. We also will consider how these writers transform some of the fundamental ideas of psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and critical historiography. At stake in our readings will be the various aesthetic and political aspects of postcolonial struggle–how to think outside the colonial architecture of language; how to contest and subvert what remains from history’s violence; and how to evaluate the claims to authenticity of creolized New World cultural forms.
Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.2022-23: Not offered
Fall semester. The Department.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022