Introduction to the Study of African American Cultural Practices
Professor/InstructorImani Perry, Eddie Steven Glaude Jr., Naomi Murakawa
As the introductory course required to concentrate or earn a certificate in African American Studies, this course examines the past and present, the doings and the sufferings of Americans of African descent from a multidisciplinary perspective. It highlights the ways in which serious intellectual scrutiny of the agency of black people in the United States help redefine what it means to be American, new world, modern and postmodern.
Introductory Research Methods in African American Studies
The purposes of this course are to assist the student in developing the ability to critically evaluate social science research on the black experience and to do research in African studies. To accomplish these goals, the course will acquaint students with the processes of conceptualization and basic research techniques, and some of the unique issues in conducting research on the black experience. A variety of appropriate studies will be utilized. One three-hour seminar.
The American Dance Experience and Africanist Dance Practices
Professor/InstructorDyane Harvey Salaam
A studio course introducing students to American dance aesthetics and practice, with a focus on how American dance has been influenced by African American choreographers and dancers. An ongoing study of movement practices from traditional African dances and those of the African diaspora, touching on American jazz dance, modern dance, and American ballet. Studio work will be complemented by readings, video viewings, guest speakers, and dance studies. Two two-hour classes.
Inequality: Class, Race, and Gender
Inequalities in property, power, and prestige examined for their effects on life chances and lifestyles. Primary focus on socioeconomic classes in modern societies. Special attention to the role of religious, racial, and ethnic factors. Comparisons of different systems of stratification in the world today. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
Topics in African American Studies
Professor/InstructorEddie Steven Glaude Jr.
This course examines the selected non-fiction writings of one of America's most influential essayists and public intellectuals: James Baldwin. Attention will be given to his views on ethics, art, and politics - with particular consideration given to his critical reflections on race and democracy.
Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movements
Professor/InstructorChika O. Okeke-Agulu
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.
Jazz History: Many Sounds, Many Voices
An introduction survey examining the historical development of jazz from its African origins through the present. The course will place emphasis on the acquisition of listening skills and explore related musical and social issues.
Topics in Global Race and Ethnicity
Professor/InstructorJessica Ann Levy
This seminar surveys the global and historical dimensions of the black freedom struggle beginning with the Haitian Revolution. Course readings challenge students to reflect on the contingent nature of identity and power as experienced by people of African descent living on different continents over the course of two centuries. Meanwhile, class assignments facilitate practice with critical thinking, civic engagement, and different forms of communication, including oral history, blog posts, and exhibit design.
Topics in Race and Public Policy
This seminar critically explores the historical practice of deportation in the United States both past and present, looking at how our ideas of human rights, freedom, and belonging intersect with racial and national ideologies. We will work through a wide archive of literature, theory, and art, drawing important connections between the political geographies, experiences, and responses of Indigenous Americans, Black dissidents and Mexican deportees. This study of removal will help us to reflect on the contemporary moment of global mass migrations when humans are increasingly managed through preventative policing, detention, and deportation.
Special Topics In Urban Dance
This advanced studio/seminar topics course explores the artistic, social, and cultural implications of hip-hop dance through an intensive focus on the concept of style. Using master classes, academic study, and embodied practice in the studio to develop a physical understanding and detailed social analysis of four specific hip-hop dance genres, we will explore the distinctive cultural influences that shaped each of these diverse forms, as well the deeper movement principles that they share. These principles will then be placed in the larger historical, political and performative context of the Afro-Diasporic experience in the Americas.
Race and Public Policy
Professor/InstructorDouglas S. Massey
Analyzes the historical construction of race as a concept in American society, how and why this concept was institutionalized publicly and privately in various arenas of U.S. public life at different historical junctures, and the progress that has been made in dismantling racialized institutions since the civil rights era. One three-hour seminar.
Black Power and Its Theology of Liberation
Professor/InstructorEddie Steven Glaude Jr.
This course examines the various pieties of the Black Power era. We chart the explicit and implicit utopian visions of the politics of the period that, at once, criticized established black religious institutions and articulated alternative ways of imagining salvation. We also explore the attempt by black theologians to translate the prophetic black church tradition into the idiom of black power. Our aim is to keep in view the significance of the Black Power era for understanding the changing role and place of black religion in black public life.
African American Autobiography
Highlights the autobiographical tradition of African Americans from the antebellum period to the present as symbolic representations of African American material, social, and intellectual history and as narrative quests of self-development. Students will be introduced to basic methods of literary analysis and criticism, specifically focusing on cultural criticism and psychoanalytic theory on the constructed self.
20th Century Master
This special topics course will focus on artists and intellectuals whose corpus reflects and illuminates 20th century African American life. Lorraine Hansberry, the first African American female playright to have a play open on Broadway, explored a series of critical themes in her work, including: race, migration, colonialism, gender and social class. In addition to having a distinguished career as a playright, Hansberry was an activist and advocate for gender and racial justice. Students will study her published and unpublished plays, essays and poetry, as well as relevant social and cultural history and literary criticism.
The American Jeremiad and Social Criticism in the United States
Professor/InstructorEddie Steven Glaude Jr.
An examination of the religious and philosophical roots of prophecy as a form of social criticism in American intellectual and religious history. Particular attention is given to what is called the American Jeremiad, a mode of public exhortation that joins social criticism to spiritual renewal. Michael Walzer, Sacvan Bercovitch, and Edward Said serve as key points of departure in assessing prophetic criticism's insights and limitations. Attention is also given to the role of black prophetic critics, such as James Baldwin, Martin Luther King Jr., and Cornel West. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
Law, Social Policy, and African American Women
Journeying from enslavement and Jim Crow to the post-civil rights era, this course will learn how law and social policy have shaped, constrained, and been resisted by black women's experience and thought. Using a wide breadth of materials including legal scholarship, social science research, visual arts, and literature, we will also develop an understanding of how property, the body, and the structure and interpretation of domestic relations have been frameworks through which black female subjectivity in the United States was and is mediated.
Topics in the Politics of Writing and Difference
A course analyzing various Latin American literary and written traditions produced by, in dialogue with, or on behalf of subjects who have an ambiguous relationship with dominant forms of written expression, for example: indigenous people, black people, and women. Special attention will be given to slave narratives, testimonio, autobiography, and the indigenista novel. Two 90-minute classes. Prerequisite: a 200-level Spanish course or instructor's permission.
African American Literature: Origins to 1910
Professor/InstructorAutumn M. Womack
This introductory course focuses on black literature and literary culture from the mid-18th century to the early 20th; it will cover the poetry of Phillis Wheatley and Paul L. Dunbar; the political oratory of Sojourner Truth and David Walker; slave narratives by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs; non-fiction prose by W. E. B. Du Bois and Anna Julia Cooper; and Frances Harper's and James Weldon Johnson's novels. In readings, assignments, and discussions, students will explore the unique cultural contexts, aesthetic debates, and socio-political forces that surround the production of an early African American literary tradition.
African American Literature: Harlem Renaissance to Present
Professor/InstructorKinohi Nishikawa, Autumn M. Womack
A survey of twentieth- and twenty-first century African American literature, including the tradition's key aesthetic manifestos. Special attention to how modern African American literature fits into certain periods and why certain innovations in genre and style emerged when they did. Poetry, essays, novels, popular fiction, a stage production or two, and related visual texts.
Race and the American Legal Process: Emancipation to the Voting Rights Act
This course examines the dynamic and often conflicted relationships between African American struggles for inclusion, and the legislative, administrative, and judicial decision-making responding to or rejecting those struggles, from Reconstruction to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. In tracing these relationships we will cover issues such as property, criminal law, suffrage, education, and immigration, with a focus on the following theoretical frameworks: equal protection, due process, civic participation and engagement, and political recognition.
African American History to 1863
Professor/InstructorTera W. Hunter, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
This course explores African-American history from the Atlantic slave trade up to the Civil War. It is centrally concerned with the rise of and overthrow of human bondage and how they shaped the modern world. Africans were central to the largest and most profitable forced migration in world history. They shaped new identities and influenced the contours of American politics, law, economics, culture and society. The course considers the diversity of experiences in this formative period of nation-making. Race, class, gender, region, religion, labor, and resistance animate important themes in the course.
African American History Since Emancipation
Professor/InstructorJoshua B. Guild
This course offers an introduction to the major themes, critical questions, and pivotal moments in post emancipation African American history. Traces the social, political, cultural, intellectual, and legal contours of the black experience in the United States from Reconstruction to the rise of Jim Crow, through the World Wars, Depression, and the Great Migrations, to the long civil rights era and the contemporary period of racial politics. Using a wide variety of texts, images, and creative works, the course situates African American history within broader national and international contexts.
Topics in African American Religion
Professor/InstructorWallace DeNino Best
Assesses the value of religion and its impartations of the historical, ethical, and political in African American life. Courses will also critique African American religion from a broader contextual basis by establishing commonalities and differences across historical and cultural boundaries.
Postblack - Contemporary African American Art
Professor/InstructorChika O. Okeke-Agulu
As articulated by Thelma Golden, postblack refers to the work of African American artists who emerged in the 1990s with ambitious, irreverent, and sassy work. Postblack suggests the emergence of a generation of artists removed from the long tradition of black affirmation of the Harlem Renaissance, black empowerment of the Black Arts movement, and identity politics of the 1980s and early 90s. This seminar involves critical and theoretical readings on multiculturalism, race, identity, and contemporary art, and will provide an opportunity for a deep engagement with the work of African American artists of the past decade. One three-hour seminar.
History of African American Art
Professor/InstructorAnna Arabindan Kesson
An introduction to the history of African American art and visual culture from the colonial period to the present. Artists and works of art will be considered in terms of their social, intellectual, and historical contexts. Students will consider artistic practices as they intersect with other cultural spheres, including science, politics, religion, and literature. Topics and readings will be drawn from the field of art history as well as from cultural studies, critical race theory, and the history of the Atlantic world. For department majors, this course satisfies the Group 3 distribution requirement. Two lectures, one preceptorial.