Courses in Afroamerican and African Studies (Division 311)

Introductory Courses

105. Introduction to African Studies. (4). (SS).

This course presents a broad overview of epochal moments in African history and societies, from the pre-colonial eras, and from the colonial kingdoms and acephalous (decentralized, "tribes without leaders") societies will be examined in terms of their internal dynamics as well as in their interaction with outside forces, especially with the Arab world and Western Europe. This is an approach that will therefore highlight dominant characteristics of Africa societies in contexts provided by indigenous Islamic, and Western contributions. Students will be provided with an introduction to African politics and economics as well as to the continent's many cultures and cosmologies, religions and philosophies. Other themes to be discussed include the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (seen as an instance when a "labor imperative" determined the relations between African and the West); the "territorial phase" which imperialism and colonialism represented; and the difficulties associated with Africa's current post colonial "market and energy" phase.

Historical Perspectives

448/Hist. 448. Africa in the Twentieth Century. (4). (Excl).

See History 448. (Atkins)

Politics, Economics, and Development

329. Black American Leaders. (3). (Excl).

RACE, POLITICS, CULTURE AND IDEOLOGICAL CHOICE THE LIVES OF CLR JAMES AND PAUL ROBESON. This class will explore two major Black leaders of the twentieth century CLR James born in Trinidad and Tobago and Paul Robeson born in the United States. Both of these men were strongly political. James regarded Robeson one of the two most important American men of the twentieth century, even though they were on different ends of the "communist" spectrum. "The fact that at the time Robeson was in support of Moscow and the Stalinist parties and James was firmly wedded to the Fourth International of Trotsky was no hindrance to their mutual appreciation." The lives of these men will be examined through biographies and speeches and through works written by these men. This will be augmented by critical anthologies and collections that will provide a context for the discourse on race, politics and culture and the ideological choices and lives lived by these two men. Although there will be an extended reading list, BLACK JACOBINS, by CLR James, HERE I STAND, by Paul Robeson, and his biography by Martin Duberman will be necessary reading. (Haniff)

408. African Economies: Social and Political Settings. (4). (Excl).

Section 001 CLASS, CULTURE AND CONSCIOUSNESS. The fundamental project of colonialism was to incorporate Africa into the world economy through the production of needed raw materials and the consumption of European finished products. But incorporation has turned out to be neither unidirectional nor monolithic and Africa has not replicated the European transition to capitalism. This is due to the variety of reasons, not least of all the historical specificity of African social formations, the varying responses of African communities, and the nature of the colonial state. This course focuses on particular forms of incorporation and African responses to changing economic and political realities. The emphasis will be on the interplay of history, culture and human agency. We begin with a brief examination of the colonial period and the debate on "class" in the African context. This provides us with a common basis for exploring class formation, expressions of consciousness, and cultural responses to the expansion of the commodity nexus. Course format: discussion. WL:4 (Groz-Ngate)

424/Anthro. 513. Urbanization and Technological Change in Africa. Junior standing or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

See Anthropology 513. (Clark)

479/Pol. Sci. 479. International Relations of Africa. (4). (SS).

See Political Science 479. (Twumasi)

Literature and the Arts

338/English 320. Literature in Afro-American Culture. (3). (HU). May be repeated for a total of 6 credits.

This course will survey the oral and literary forms, themes and traditions of Afro-American literature. Critical attention will be paid to the Black oral tradition as manifest in folktales, sermons, devotional music, blues, worksongs and contemporary forms. In addition, study of Black literate forms such as the slave narrative and the application of the autobiography, the autobiographical essay, the novel of confrontation and liberation, as Afro-American authors use them to formulate Black identity and consciousness, will also be considered. Particular attention will be paid to the special problematic that a dual literary tradition, one based upon an oral medium, the other upon the devices of literacy - poses for Black authors in registering the Afro-American experience in literature. Two short papers and a research project. (Chrisman)

341/Theatre 222. Introduction to Black Theatre. (3). (HU).

See Theatre and Drama 222. (Jackson)

342/Theatre 233. Acting and the Black Experience. Permission of instructor (brief interview). (3). (HU).

See Theatre and Drama 233. (Jackson)

361. Comparative Black Art. CAAS 360. (3). (Excl).

This course is a continuation of AAS 360, an accelerated course which provides an interdisciplinary overview of Afro-American culture and art. AAS 361 develops further information and dialogue for a closer examination of the interrelationship of the arts, and of how they influence and are influenced by society. The approach continues to be interdisciplinary, and Afrocentric. The Afro-American cultural experience and its various forms of existence and encounters are brought under close scrutiny in a variety of contexts: these will range from the historical and political to the philosophical, the religious, and the aesthetic. In the process, this course also examines the relationship of West African cultures to both South and North American insistencies. The course also recognizes and will examine the controversies surrounding the impact of the Afrocentric aesthetic on Western culture and lifestyles. Slides, films, and guest appearances will supplement lectures. But this course is also designed to be interactive and communal and to create opportunities for students to strengthen their skills and establish a clearer, more substantial concept of identity, focus and direction. WL:4 (Lockard)

407. African Literature. (3). (HU).

POST-INDEPENDENCE AFRICAN FICTION: 1960 THE PRESENT. The objective of this course is modest: to provide undergraduate students a general exposure to the field of contemporary African fiction. Represented in the course will be texts (in English or in translation) from all regions of the continent which, deriving from a wide spectrum of aesthetic and ideological sensibilities, speak to diverse issues, past and present. Some of the writers whose work we shall discuss are Ahamodou Kourama, Camaa Lave, Cyprian Ekwensi, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Nawai el Saadawi, Mariama Ba and Alex La Guma. (Esonwanne)

442/Film-Video 442. Third World Cinema. (3). (Excl).

See Film-Video 442. (Ukadike)

470/Film-Video 470. Cultural Issues in Cinema. (3). (Excl).

See Film-Video 470. (Ukadike)

476/English 478 Contemporary Afro-American Literature. Perm

See English 478. (Awkward)

Individual Behavior, Cultural Systems, and Social Organization

326. The Black American Family. (3). (SS).

In this course theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of African American families are explored and critiqued. We will examine the structural features of these families in today's American society and assess the role of historic, economic, and other systemic factors as determinants of such structures. Attention will be given to interactional patterns in African American families with the aim of identifying models that account for their strengths and resilience. Finally, current topical issues affecting the African families, such as, teenage pregnancies, drug abuse, and welfare dependency will be addressed. [WL:4]

331. The World of the Black Child. (3). (Excl).

This course has two objectives. They are, first, to introduce key areas of research and theory related to the socialization of African-American children and second, to facilitate critical thinking regarding this body of research and theory. The course will focus on cultural and situational forces which affect the lives of African-American lower- and middle-class children in the United States. In order to highlight the factors which contribute to the social conditions of the African-American child, a section of the course will look at the lives of specific individuals through their personal accounts and will compare the converging and diverging features of the socialization of African-American children and South African children. Topics to be discussed will include (1) family, peers, and community socialization, (2) the development of a sense of self and racial identification, (3) portrayal of African-American in books for children, (4) school achievement and intellectual development, (5) language development, (6) teenage pregnancy, and (7) welfare, poverty, and father absence. (McLoyd)

335/Religion 310. Religion in the Afro-American Experience. (3). (HU).

See Religion 310. (Miles)

336/Women's Studies 336. Black Women in America. (3). (Excl).

In this course, an interdisciplinary perspective will be taken in examining the unique historical and contemporary forces that have shaped the lives of Black women in America. The Black woman in American has been a victim of multiple oppressions, and it is the goal of this course to examine the impact of those oppressions on empowering as well as disabling her. Literature from psychology, sociology, history, and women's studies will be utilized on exploring issues related to the Black woman's economic, social, and psychological well-being. Full attendance and participation in class is required, in addition to the completion of written assignments and a research project-paper. (Frazier-Kouassi)

339/Ling. 339. African American Languages and Dialects. (3). (Excl).

See Linguistics 339. (Myhill)

358(458). Topics in Black World Studies. (3). (Excl). May be elected for a total of 6 credits.

Section 001 HISTORY AND CULTURE IN THE WEST AFRICAN SAHEL. Vistas of sandy soil, isolated baobab trees, emaciated children and adults these are the images of the Sahel which now and again flash across our television screens when drought and famine in the region capture the attention of journalists. Although the countries of West Africa which fall within the ecological zone known as the "Sahel" have indeed faced recurring droughts and are among the poorest in the world today, their territories sustained chiefdoms and empires long before the arrival of Europeans on West African shores. Long-distance trade networks linked the peoples of the region with the Mediterranean world as early as the 10th century A.D. and provided a means for the diffusion of Islam. This course traces the historical transformations of the region from the time of the early empires to the present. It explores local cultures within this context and examines their continuities and interrelationships. Readings will include novels by indigenous authors and selected articles. Course format will be lecture-discussion. WL:4 (Grosz-Ngate)

422/Anthro. 411. African Culture. Junior standing or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

See Anthropology 411. (Owusu)

452. Education of the Black Child. (3). (Excl).

This course deals with overlooked but crucial questions related to the education of Black children in the United States. The area of primary concern will be public schooling, and the emphasis will be laid on analyzing the social, cultural, political and economic forces which act to influence the learning experiences of Black children. AAS 452 will thus consider, on the one hand, the theoretical framing of ideas about the growth, development and learning of children in different life settings and styles, and, on the other, the existing structural, socio-political attempts to find ways and means of relating the philosophy and objectives of public education to the needs of Black children. In the process, this course examines the defects of present-day educational theories which are based on empirical data drawn from studies of less than 1% of the population. The course will test for the applicability and generalizability of such data to other population groups, examine their implications for different cultural systems, and assess what is thus contributed to cognitive variation and performance and competence in the learning process.

454/Anthro. 453. African-American Culture. One introductory course in the social sciences. (3). (Excl).

See Anthropology 453. (Williams)

458. Issues in Black World Studies. (3). (Excl). May be elected for a total of 6 credits.

Section 001. This course will consider the registry of the Black experience in radio, television and film. Special attention will be paid to the technical, economic and social properties of modern mass media and how they affect the replication of the reality of Black life in the United States and elsewhere. We will study the reproduction of Black stereotypes in modern film and television, from early dramas and musicals, on through to contemporary coverage of athletic events and news broadcasting. Particular attention will be paid to the problems of semiotics, reification and hegemony posed by the monopoly nature of mainstream mass media. In addition, attention will be paid to films and programs that have sought to accurately record the complexity of Black life, and such study will include independent Black film and television producers. Two short papers and a research project. (Chrisman)

Section 004 BLACK FEMINIST THOUGHT. For Winter Term, 1991, this section is jointly offered with Women's Studies 480.003. (Haniff)

Independent Study

410. Supervised Reading and Research. Permission of instructor. (1-6). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT). May be repeated for credit with permission.

Students who can show appropriate preparation in courses previously taken, the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies offers course credit for independent study. A full-time faculty member must agree to supervise the undertaking and to meet with the student during the term. The proposed course of study may not duplicate the material of any course regularly offered by the Center. The reading and writing requirement should by comparable to that required in a regular course for the same number of credits; and all the work must be completed by the final day of class in the term. After consultation with and approval from a CAAS faculty member, applications for independent study along with statements describing the schedule of readings and of writing assignments must be filled out. Such applications must be signed by the faculty member involved and turned in before the end of the week of the term. It is therefore advisable to submit applications (available in Room 200 West Engineering Building) in advance of the beginning of the independent study term, upon approval, and override (Election Authorization Form) will be issued.


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