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. (Omer)

Section 006 Honors Introduction to African Studies. This course offers an intensive and personally challenging introduction to the study of African societies in a seminar format. Through novels and other writings by Africans, we see how Africans confront the complex issues of contemporary life. We follow the impact of colonial conquest, urbanization, wage, work and Western education on the economic, political, family and philosophical systems worked out within historical African cultures. Each week, we discuss a book drawn from different parts of Africa and different time periods, which approaches and presents these issues in a different way. Each students is responsible for leading this discussion for one class period. Students also write a short paper (3-4 pages) exploring a theme of their choice about each book. These papers receive thorough comments on their arguments and writing quality. Final evaluation is based on class participation and discussion leadership as well as the papers. No previous work in African studies is required, but students should have a "B" average to register. (Clark)

Historical Perspectives

231/Hist. 275. Survey of Afro-American History II. (3). (SS).

This course, in the most general terms, is a study of the history and culture of African Americans since the Civil War. We will be particularly concerned with internal community development, including class and gender dynamics within Black communities, exploring the various ideological developments in late nineteenth and twentieth century African American communities, and understanding the ways in which African American, by their own thoughts and actions, shaped their own lives and history in the United States and forged and nurtured their own culture even though they had to do this against a background of racial, social, and economic exploitation. (Kelley)

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

See History 448. (Cooper)

Politics, Economics, and Development

449/Pol. Sci. 459. Africa: Development and Dependence. Prior or concurrent study of the Third World; Pol. Sci. 465 is recommended but not required. (3). (Excl).

See Political Science 459. (Twumasi)

Literature and the Arts

214/Hist. of Art 214. Introduction to African-American Art. Hist. of Art 102 or CAAS 108 or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

See History of Art 214. (Patton)

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 autobiograph, 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).
Section 001: Post-Colonial African and Post-Civil Rights Afroamerican Fiction.
With the end of Colonialism in Africa and the Caribbean and the passage of the Civil Rights Bill in the United States, writers turned their attention to a number of issues. Though some were thematic the nature and meaning of struggle, the significance and authority of the past and the present and others aesthetic - literary genres, narrative structure and expressive devices - they all were related to two central concerns: what to write and How to write about it. Through readings of novels such as God's Bits of Wood (Senegal), Chosen Place, Timeless People (Caribbean), and Mumbo Jumbo (Unites States), we will learn how these issues wee treated in individual texts. (Esonwanne)

440/Film-Video 440. African Cinema. (3). (Excl).

This course will provide a critical and interdisciplinary look at the development of African cinema from its inception in the 1960's to the present. In looking at this period, we will move from the sociopolitical upheavals of late colonialism to the recent phase of introspection and diversification. The relationship of cinematic practices to transformations in the social and economic sphere will be examined, as well as the creation of distinctively African film styles based on oral traditions. In pursuing these topics, we will consider the impact of technology, history and culture, ties to the cinema of other developing nations, and co-productions. The films to be screened include: Halfaquine (Tunisia), Baadis (Morocco), Angano...Angano (Madagascar), Faces of Women (Cote d'Ivoire), Xala (Senegal), Harvest: 3,000 Years (Ethiopia), and Yaaba (Burkina Faso). Written assignments, midterm and final paper are required. WL:4 (Ukadike)

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 (Wilson)

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

See Religion 310. (Miles)

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. WL:4 (Wagaw)

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 006: The Historical Legacy of African American Student Movements.
Two key ideas are central to this course. First, the materials and lectures review and critique the major sociological theories of social movements. Second, the American Civil Rights and student movements of the 1950's and 1960's provide exemplary case histories for a comparison with the 1970, 1975, 1987 anti-racist student movement at the University of Michigan. Our objective is to first learn the theories and then make sense of these movements by reviewing those theories which fit best the case study. Required texts: William Gamson, The Strategy of Social Protest, Piven and Cloward, Poor People's Movement, Todd Gitlin, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage, Aldon Morris, Origins of the Civil Rights Movement, William Exum, Paradoxes of Protest. (Linzie)

486. Communication Media in the Black World. (3). (Excl). May be repeated for a total of 6 credits.
Section 001: Communication Media and the Black World.
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, reunification 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. WL:4 (Chrisman)

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 be 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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