David Blight’s Race and Reunion Offers Critical Appraisal of America After the Civil War

January 25, 2001Director of Media Relations 413/542-8417 AMHERST, Mass.—David W. Blight, the Class of 1959 Professor of History and Black Studies at Amherst College, has just published Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory ($29.95, 512 pp., Harvard University Press, Cambridge 2001), a study of how Americans—black and white, from North and South, soldiers and politicians, writers and editors—made sense of America’s most wrenching war.

Abiodun Addresses Cross-Cultural Translation in New African Art Book

February 12, 2001Director of Media Relations413/542-8417 AMHERST, Mass.— In his preface to the groundbreaking and recently released A History of Art in Africa ($85, 544 pp., Prentice-Hall/Abrams, New York 2001), Professor Rowland Abiodun, John C. Newton Professor of Fine Arts and Black Studies at Amherst College, argues that the field of African art studies has been vexed by the problem of cross-cultural translation.

Amherst College Black Studies Professor Patrícia de Santana Pinho Considers African Influence on Brazil in New Book

Historian Walter Johnson To Speak on “The Negro Fever” March 8 at Amherst College

Study at Institutions other than Amherst College

The department has a specific distribution of courses that a student must complete in order to graduate with a major in Black Studies. Those requirements are listed in the course catalog and delineated on the "Departmental Major Form." Every Black Studies major is required to complete this form in consultation with her/his advisor who signs off on the form in the major's final semester, indicating that the student has successfully completed the department's requirements.

Student Research

Funding for Student Research The Department has set aside a portion of its budget to fund student research projects. Students who are interested in applying for these funds should send a letter to the Chair of the Department and include the following information:

Black Studies Resources


Edward Jones Prize

Each year the Black Studies Department awards the Edward Jones Prize in honor of the first black alumnus of Amherst College. Competition for the prize is open to any graduating Amherst College senior (or E) who has written an honors thesis that addresses a present or future issue of concern to black people in Africa and the Diaspora.

Information for Majors

Black Studies is an interdisciplinary exploration of the histories and cultures of black peoples in Africa and the diaspora. It is also an inquiry into the social construction of racial differences and its relation to the perpetuation of racism and racial domination.

Major Program. The major in Black Studies consists of eight courses: three core courses, three distribution courses, and two electives. The three core courses are Black Studies 111 (normally taken by the end of the sophomore year), Black Studies 200 (normally taken in the sophomore year), and Black Studies 300 (normally taken in the sophomore year) but before the final semester of the senior year. The three course distribution consists of one course in three of four geographic areas: Africa; the United States; Latin America and the Caribbean; and Africa and its Diaspora. The student may choose the two electives from the Department’s offerings, from cross-listed courses, or from other courses at the Five Colleges. Majors fulfill the department's comprehensive requirement by successfully completing Black Studies 300.

Key for required core and distribution requirements for the major: R (Required); A (Africa); US (United States); CLA (Caribbean/Latin America); D (Africa and its Diaspora).


Learning Goals

By the time they complete the Black Studies major, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate broad familiarity with several regions in Africa, and the African Diaspora;
  • Read critically books and articles across the range of genres and disciplines in which scholars have written about race-related topics;
  • Recognize and utilize the elements of sound argument in their reading and writing;
  • Focus their work within the major on a particular field or a specific research question;
  • Prepare and complete an extended research project.

Departmental Honors Program

All candidates for honors must write a senior thesis. Candidates for Honors will, with departmental permission, take Black Studies 498-499 during their senior year. The departmental recommendation for Latin honors will be determined by the student's level of performance on her/his thesis.


  • A student who wishes to write a thesis in the Black Studies Department should consult with her/his advisor about a topic in the spring semester of her/his junior year. Each candidate must then submit a 5 page prospectus similar to that written in Black Studies 300, plus a brief bibliography, to the Department office no later than the last Friday in August.
  • Black Studies faculty will consider thesis proposals at the first department meeting of the academic year.

    • If a proposal is approved, a faculty member will be assigned to work with the student.  The thesis student and faculty advisor will determine a structured timetable within which the student will make satisfactory progress in the first semester of thesis work.
    • The first chapter of the thesis is due to the thesis advisor on the last day of classes in the fall semester.

  • The faculty thesis advisor will evaluate the student's progress and recommend to the Department as a whole no later than January 15th if the student should be allowed to continue her/his thesis work.
    • The department will vote to allow the student to continue or not and will notify the student of its decision by the first day of classes in the spring semester. Continuation into the second semester of thesis work does not guarantee that a student will receive departmental honors.

  • The thesis must be submitted to the department by the second  Friday in April at 3:00 p.m.  Submission of a final thesis does not guarantee that a student will receive departmental honors.
  • A bound copy of theses must be submitted for the Department Library.

Funding for Student Groups

The Department has set aside a portion of its budget to fund student group activities, e.g., speakers, performers, etc. Download a PDF of the Request for Funding of Student Events/Activities form. Requests will be considered by the Department on a first-come, first-served basis. NB: The Black Studies Department will contribute funds only to those activities which are: