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Black Studies

Year:

2022-23

105, 204 African Popular Music

(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. 

Fall semester. Limited to 30 students. Five College Professor Omojola.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

111 Introduction to Black Studies

[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 Carol Bailey. Spring semester: Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

113 The African-American Playwright: A Select History of Representation and Citizenship

(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.

Omitted 2022-23.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

114 The Blues Muse: African American Music in American Culture

(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 2022-23. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020

121 Colonial and Post-Colonial Africa

(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.

Not offered in 2022-23. Professor Redding.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

124 Play and Performance Across “The Black Atlantic”

(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
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

126, 134 Hip Hop History and Culture

(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. 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 30 students. Professor Coddington. Fall semester.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2021

130 Transnational American Studies

(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 2022-23. Post-Doctoral Fellow Jolly and Professor Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

131 Introduction to the Black Freedom Struggle

(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. Omitted 2022-2023. Professor Bradley.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2021

138, 313 Visual Arts and Orature in Africa

(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
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

147 Race, Place, and the Law

(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 2022-23. Senior Lecturer Delaney.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, January 2021

162 Black (on) Earth: Introduction to African American Environmental Literature

(Offered as ENGL 162 and BLST 162 [D]) 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. Fall semester. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

193 The Postcolonial City

(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 2022-23. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

201 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic

(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 2022-23. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

203 Women Writers of Africa and the African Diaspora

(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. Omitted 2022-2023. Visiting Prof. C. Bailey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

212 Digital Africas

(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. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2019, Fall 2021

220 Slavery in U.S. History & Culture

(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.

Omitted 2022-23. Limited to 20 students. Associate Professor Herbin-Triant.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

223, 323 West African Religion as Philosophy

Offered as BLST-323, PHIL-xxx and RELI-223

This course explores the structure, beliefs, and practices of West African indigenous religions with an eye to their deeper philosophical meanings. We will examine several West African religions from the perspective of experts and practitioners who present the underlying philosophy of these traditions, exploring their epistemology (how knowledge works) and metaphysics (the nature of being). We will focus on concepts of the person, the word, the world, and community as well as the important role of orality as the foundational paradigm of this philosophy. 

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Brodnicka.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

226 Theorizing the Black Queer Americas

(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. Omitted 2022-2023.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

236 Black Sexualities

(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. Fall semester. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

240 Afro-Latinos

(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
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2021

241, 248 African American History from Reconstruction to the Present

(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. Limited to 25 students.

Fall semester. Professor Bradley.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

245 King

(Offered as HIST 250 [US/TRTS] 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 2022-23.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2021

248 Race and American Capitalism: From Slavery to Ferguson

(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 2022-23. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020

253, 257 Slaves, Voyagers, and Strangers: Building Colonial Cities

(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. Fall semester. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

256 Pan-African Imaginations: Literature, Politics, and Identity

(Offered as ENGL 256 and BLST 256 [D]) In this course, we will develop a thoughtful understanding of the idea of Africa and the African diaspora and a complex appreciation of the meanings of black presence in the world. We will ask five questions that will allow us to explore the ways literary and philosophical texts from Africa and the African Diaspora challenge the Global Matrix of Power, question anti-Black racism in philosophy, literature, and cultural studies, and shape conceptions of being and identity in Africa and the African diaspora, namely: What is Africa? What is the African-Diaspora? How do these concepts engage with each other? How does race help make sense of both? How does the comparative analysis of the lived experiences of people of African descent allow us to understand the limits of Western modernity, question coloniality, and comprehend people of African descent’s presence in the world? These questions will be examined from the perspectives of three pivotal movements in African literature: Negritude (Aime Cesaire, Discourse on Colonialism and Leopold Seda Senghor, selected essays), the postcolonial and decolonial traditions (Ngugi Wathiong’o, Decolonizing the Mind and Cheikh Hamidou Kane, The Ambiguous Adventure), and Afropolitanism and the Afro-chic (Chimanda Adichie, Americanah, Taiye Selasie, Ghana Must Go, and Blitz Bazawule, The scent of Burnt Flowers). These readings will be supplemented by visual material and Afrobeat music. Students will develop a clear understanding of processes that lead to the “invention” of Africa, learn how to synthesize historical processes, key figures, and ideas that have led to contemporary conceptions of Africa and the Diaspora, and refine their critical thinking and writing skills.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Thiam.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

270, 293 African Art and the Diaspora

(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
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

271 The Black Radical Tradition

In this course, we explore the history and philosophy of Black resistance to domination and oppression in the new world. We begin with the Haitian Revolution and then proceed to the grand and petty revolts of the nineteenth century. We investigate the everyday abolitionism that informs what Cedric Robinson called “the truer genius” of Black struggle. We examine thinkers who we might understand to comprise the Black Radical Tradition (Nannie of the Maroons, W.E.B. Du Bois, C.L.R. James, Richard Wright, Toussaint L’ouverture) and also the range of philosophical and political themes the tradition as a whole elucidates (violence vs. non-violence, leadership, self-mastery, property, historical consciousness, rebellion, culture). Our overall objective is to think critically about the Black Radical Tradition as an under-examined project involving its own codes, histories, beliefs, values, virtues, and well as vices.  

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Loggins.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

274, 275 Gender and Slavery in Latin America

(Offered as BLST 275 [CLA], SWAG 274, HIST 275 [LA/TS/TR/ P ] and LLAS 275)  Latin American slavery was one of the most brutal institutions the world has ever known, and it affected women and girls, boys and men in profoundly different ways. This readings-based course features both secondary and primary sources. Students will gain in-depth understanding of how gender and sexuality affected the experiences of enslaved Africans and their descendants in Latin America from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. Topics will include gender roles in Western Africa and how these diverged from the expectations of Spanish and Portuguese slave masters; the sexual and reproductive as well as labor exploitation of enslaved African women and girls; how enslaved men constructed masculinity within the emasculating institution of slavery; gender relations and family structures within slave communities; childhoods under slavery; and the sometimes distinct visions of freedom imagined by enslaved women and men. Select primary documents will acquaint students with the sources historians use to reconstruct these aspects of the histories of largely non-literate African-descended peoples. Regions to be covered include Brazil, the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, Mexico and Central America, and the Andean region. Students will be evaluated on class participation, a series of weekly reading notes, and two short papers.

Fall semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

277 Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World

(Offered as BLST 277 [CLA], LLAS 277 and HIST 277 [LA/TS/TR])  The Haitian Revolution began in 1791 with a slave revolt on a single plantation and, after more than a decade of total war, destroyed slavery forever and resulted in the independence of the world's first Black republic. By the end of 1804, the white planter class had been killed or exiled and Black men ruled the island. Before it happened, white slave masters could never imagine that tens of thousands of enslaved Africans would one day break their chains and succeed in defeating French, British, and Spanish armies. For millions of enslaved people, the Haitian Revolution proved that the dream of freedom could become reality and inspired slave conspiracies and rebellions from Virginia to Brazil. At the same time, Haiti struck fear in white slave masters throughout the Americas, who did their best to strangle the new Black Republic in its cradle. This readings-based course features both secondary and primary sources. Students will gain in-depth understanding of the origins and development of the Haitian Revolution and its impact in Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Students will be evaluated on class participation, a series of weekly reading notes, and two short papers.

Fall semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

296 Black Women and Reproductive Justice in the African Diaspora

(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. Omitted 2022-23. Post-Doctoral Fellow Jolly.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2022

300 Research in Black Studies

[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-Sander and Thiam.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

306 A World of Evidence: Architecture, Race, and the Amherst College Archive

(Offered as ARHA 306, ARCH 306, BLST 306, EUST 305) This upper-level seminar will teach students how to conduct research on race and racism in the field of architectural studies. Throughout the semester, we will visit Amherst College Special Collections as well as several local archives to explore the letters, photographs, drawings, and ground plans that relate to the architecture of race, racism, and social change in the region. Then, we will visit the buildings and spaces that these records address. In the process, we will ask several questions: What can the local historical record tell us about the history of architecture and race at Amherst College and in Western Massachusetts at large? What is missing from local archives? Why do these omissions matter and how should we respond to them? Recognizing the sensitivity of these questions, we will think through what it means to conduct research on topics of political, moral, cultural, and interpersonal significance. Readings and course discussions will examine how other architectural historians have tackled controversies of race and racism in their work. Guest lectures will also introduce students to the intellectual and personal journeys of the diverse range of scholars who are working on these issues today. Overall, the goal of this class is for students to gain an understanding of how to conduct architectural research with the aid of historical documents, building remnants, and altered cultural landscapes. At the end of the semester, students will complete a final research paper. This class is subsequently ideal for students in Black Studies, Architectural Studies, Environmental Studies, and History who are planning to complete a senior thesis.

No prerequisites. Juniors and seniors, however, will be given preference. The class will help students strengthen their critical thinking abilities as well as their writing and research skills. This course is limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Dwight Carey.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

307 Apartheid

(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 2022-23. Professor Sitze.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Spring 2015, Fall 2019

318 Rap, Reagan and the 1980s

(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.

Omitted 2022-23. Professor Bradley.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

334 Jazz History to 1945: Emergence, Early Development, and Innovation

(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 2022-23. Professor Robinson. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020

338 The Age of Jim Crow

(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. Not offered in 2022-23. Professor Herbin-Triant

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

338, 339, 361 Toni Morrison-Multi-Genre Exploration

(Offered as BLST 339[US], SWAG 338, ENGL 361) This course examines a significant portion of Toni Morrison’s body of work. Taking a primarily thematic approach, we will read several novels, essays, and other writings by Morrison. Our readings will also include critical reception of, and the wide-ranging scholarly reflections on Morrison’s work and her contribution to American and Black Diasporic literatures. Assignments will include: oral presentations, essays, and a research project.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Carol Bailey.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

340 Capstone in Black Studies

[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 2022-2023.  Limited to 15 students. Not open to first-year students. Professor Vaughan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

355 Race and Educational Opportunity in America

(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 2022-23. Limited to 18 students. Professor Moss.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2021

363 Research Seminar in the History of the Atlantic Slave Trade

(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. Omitted 2022-2023. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

392 Russia and the Representation of Race

(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
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

416 Economics of Race and Gender

(Offered as ECON 416, BLST 416 and SWAG 416) Economics is fundamentally about both efficiency and equity.  It is about allocation, welfare, and well-being.  How, then, can we use this disciplinary perspective to understand hierarchy, power, inequity, discrimination, and injustice?  What does economics have to offer?  Applied microeconomics is a fundamentally outward-looking and interdisciplinary field that endeavors to answer this question by being both firmly grounded in economics and also deeply connected to sociology, psychology, political science, and law.  In this class, we will employ this augmented economic perspective to try to understand the hierarchies and operation of race and gender in society.  We will read theoretical and empirical work that engages with questions of personal well-being, economic achievement, and social interaction.  Students will have opportunities throughout the semester to do empirical and policy-relevant work.  Each student will build a solid foundation for the completion of an independent term paper project that engages with a specific economic question about racial or gender inequity.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021

431 The Long Civil Rights Movement

(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. Not offered in 2022-23. Professor Bradley.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

461 The Creole Imagination

(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. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2020

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

498, 498D Senior Departmental Honors

A double course.

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022