Our roster of cross-listed courses is updated frequently; students should visit individual department sites for the most current listings.
Current Courses - Spring 2014
What does a minute and shallow category like "cuteness" have to do with a serious subject like race? This course offers an introduction to key terms in Asian American Studies through the lens of the seemingly insatiable American appetite for "Asian cuteness." How do we reconcile this craving with the history of anti-Asian sentiments in this country? Are other races or racial styles cute? If not, why not? We will explore cuteness as commodity, globalization, aesthetics, affect, and politics. Above all, we want to understand the relationship between race and style
AAS 245/ART 245 (LA)
Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movements
Lecture L01: 11:00 am – 12:20 pm MW
This course surveys important moments in 20th-Century African American art from the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s to the 1960s Black Arts movement. Our close studies of the work of major artists will be accompanied by examination of influential theories and ideologies of blackness during two key moments of black racial consciousness in the United States. We shall cover canonical artists and writers such as Aaron Douglas, James van der Zee, William H. Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, W. E. B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, James Porter and Jeff Donaldson.
This course will trace the history of black gospel music from its origins in the American South to its modern origins in 1930s Chicago and into the 1990s mainstream. Critically analyzing various compositions and the artists that performed them, we will explore the ways the music has reflected and reproached the extant cultural climate. We will be particularly concerned with the four major historical eras from which black gospel music developed: the slave era; Reconstruction; the Great Migration, and the era of Civil Rights.
This course considers various imaginings of urban life in contemporary African American literature. In the past three decades, visions of urban space in black literature have ranged from the transcendent to the near-apocalyptic. What do increasingly "postmodern" conditions signal for black writers? Is the city a beacon of hope or a site of urban decay? What tools does one need to navigate it? Finally, if the term 'black community' is evoked with a sense of its internal fractures, what new models of collectivity does this literature imagine?
This seminar course traces the tide of racial discourse and Enlightenment-spurred scientific empiricism and explores the materialization of these anxieties in popular culture as it related to the development of notions of race and nationalizing projects at the dawn of independence in Latin America.
In this class, we will explore literature and films about African vampires, witches, zombies, mermaids, and ghosts as a way of thinking about how Africa is constructed in the global imagination as well as how African and African diasporic artists use magic to analyze the dynamics of power. In this interdisciplinary anthropology, political science, literature and history course, students will be introduced to several bodies of literature (twentieth-century African American and Francophone fiction; twenty-first century African science fiction; West African popular film); as well as the latest in theorizing about magic, culture, and the state.
An introduction to major historical, theoretical, performative, and aesthetic movements and trends in black popular music culture from the 19th century through the present day.
This course explores the relationship between cultural production and historical phenomena (such as the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights Movement, for example) in 20th- and 21st-century African American literature. Additionally, we will consider the place of African American literature and cultural production in a global narrative that encompasses decolonization, multiculturalism and globalization. Primary texts include novels, short stories, poetry and video and performance art.
Fulfills AAS certificate core survey course requirement
What if you grew up with a passport from one country, a face from another continent, an accent from yet another, and live somewhere related to none of them? What if the real answer to the question "Where are you from?" or "Where did you grow up?" is so complicated that you tend to give a convenient rather than honest answer? In this course, we will explore narratives of youthful cultural and linguistic adaptation by those who have spent their childhood crossing national boundaries. Among the topics of discussion will be how the narrators construct meaningful identities and produce a sense of belonging or alienation through narrative.
In the context of de facto equality but persistent racial inequality, how do we identify race's role in public policy? This course addresses this question by drawing on a range of interdisciplinary texts. We begin by exploring different theoretical perspectives of race, seeking to define “the racial state” in historical and comparative terms. We then consider how race interacts with a variety of American political institutions, including the welfare state, immigration regulation, and the criminal justice state. We give particular attention to the complexities of racial construction and race’s intersection with other forms of hierarchy.
In 1998, then-President Clinton set a national goal that by the year 2010 race, ethnic, and gender disparities in six disease categories would be eliminated. While the agenda, called Healthy People 2010, was a noble effort, many of the goals were not met. This course examines what went wrong. For a final project, students will be asked to propose their own solutions for eliminating health disparities.
This interdisciplinary seminar examines U.S. Latina/o performance from the 1960s to the present. Students will engage the creative traditions that have emerged from the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, the post-colonial aesthetic concerns shaped by Caribbean migration, and the social preoccupations that have defined urban and suburban life. The class will learn to put formal motifs in conversation with a set of conceptual terms, including mestisaje, borderlands, transculturation, choteo, and disidentification. We will alternate between plays, critical readings, live performances, videos, and music.
This interdisciplinary seminar introduces graduate students from many departments to the African-American intellectual tradition. The perspective concentrates on African-America and the African Diaspora, with attention to issues of class and gender as well as race. A broad set of topics, including race, racism, religion, and slavery are discussed. The course presupposes a familiarity with issues in African-American studies.
Fulfills AAS graduate certificate course requirement
From Passing to Post-Racial: American Literature on the Color Line
Christopher Brown (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
American literature's ambivalent relationship with racial difference has produced many of its most memorable texts. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, that ambivalence has often been figured in the conceit of the passing novel. In this seminar we will read literature by white and black authors from both ends of the Jim Crow era - passing novels from the Nadir and Modernist periods, and the neo-passing novels of the so-called "post-racial" moment - to assess the once and future vitality of what Toni Morrison has called the "Afro-American presence in American literature." Our readings will be supplemented with contemporary critical theory.