Courses in Afroamerican and African Studies (DIVISION 311)

Introductory Courses

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

Contemporary Africa has certain striking cultural, social, political, and economic characteristics. These characteristics range from cultural diversity and creativity, colonially-created national boundaries, high rates of population growth, economic underdevelopment to passion for development and political stability. This course is designed to address the basic question: why and how did African countries acquire these characteristics? We will seek to provide, in a broad and wide-ranging survey, a coherent explanation for the transformation of African cultures, societies, politics, and economies, in relation to internal developments and to the effects of external forces. Special emphasis will be placed on major historical and social processes and their relation with one another. The historical evolution of Africa will be traced, but this will be done as a means of shedding light on the conditions and circumstances of contemporary Africa. The underlying approach is to seek to integrate whatever is known of the pre-colonial and colonial past (as revealed by archeology, anthropology, history, etc.) with an understanding of post-colonial societies and politics. Cost:2 WL:4 (Twumasi)

Historical Perspectives

230/Hist. 274. Survey of Afro-American History I. (3). (SS).

See History 274. (J.Scott)

448/Hist. 448. Africa Since 1850. (3). (SS).

See History 448. (Barry)

Politics, Economics, and Development

426. Urban Redevelopment and Social Justice. (3). (SS).
Section 001 Urban Redevelopment and Social Justice Can We Have Both? A Seminar for Future Professionals.
Taught from the perspective of a registered architect, this course is organized around topical issues of design, professionalism, and equity in urban resources development. Intended primarily for students with non-architectural backgrounds, the course seeks to provide a spirited exploration of the explicit (and subtle) connections between people, land, and power in our cities and the specific effects of these linkages upon contemporary urban rebuilding. In the main, our explorations are aimed at providing a broadened philosophical understanding of the "Who?" and "Why?" of contemporary urban redevelopment policies particularly as such policies impact on the emerging "central city." A seminar format will be followed, combining formal and informal lectures, color slide presentations, selected case studies, selected readings, and a series of student-generated workshops. Continued active class participation and the preparation of a ten-minute audio cassette tape for presentation near the end of the term are basic course requirements. Ongoing class dialogue will be augmented periodically with urban field trips and invited guests. Cost:2 WL:4 (Chaffers)

451. Law, Race, and the Historical Process, II. CAAS 450 recommended. (3). (Excl).

AAS 451 is the second half of a two course sequence on the constitutional and legal history of African Americans. It covers the phase of this history beginning with the advent of the Modern Civil Rights Movement and extending to the present. In this course, we will approach law as an institution which is constantly shaping and being shaped by the cultural, economic, political, and social environments around it. In looking at the interaction between law, race, and historical process in the latter half of the twentieth century, the course will explore the reciprocal relationship between law and the societal order, the role of law in the philosophical and social discourse of African Americans, and the function of law in the developmental strategies adopted by them. AAS 451 will routinely examine the constitutional and legal experience of African Americans as a case study in how ideas are transformed by historical forces in malleable principles of law. Cost:3 WL:4 (Woods)

479/Pol. Sci. 479. International Relations of Africa. (3). (SS).

See Political Science 479. (Twumasi)

Literature and the Arts

204. Cultural History of Afro-America. (3). (Excl).
Section 001 Exploring the Roots of African-American Culture.
"Black is Beautiful!" Is it merely a leftover cliché from the Sixties? Is there a conception of what is artistically valid or beautiful that is unique to African American cultural expressions? Or should we drop all the Eurocentric philosophical verbiage and start rappin' about "Kuumba," "Imani," "Umoja" and the other principles of Kwanzaa as they relate to our sense of the "blues," a Jon Onye Lockard masterpiece, or Ntozake Shange's knack for turning a phrase? Together we will discuss and dialogue with local and nationally recognized visual artists, dancers, poets, gospel singers, and whoever else is willing to show up. The goal of the class is to collectively and individually develop "a simple philosophy, but not a simplistic one" (Robert L. Douglas, 1994) that Honors the breadth and depth of the poly-rhythmic, interconnections of Blackness. Come prepared to read, write, play, and create. Cost:1 WL:4 (Bryant)

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).

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, Black literate forms such as the slave narrative, the autobiography, and 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. Four short papers and a research project. Cost:2 WL:4 (Chrisman)

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

See Theatre 222. (Simmons)

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. Cost:1 WL:4 (Lockard)

404/Hist. of Art 404. The Art of Africa. (3). (Excl).

See History of Art 404. (Quarcoopome)

440/Comm. 440/FV 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. Cost:2 WL:1 (Ukadike)

464/MHM 464. Music of the Caribbean. (3). (HU).

See Music History 464. (McDaniel)

Individual Behavior, Cultural Systems, and Social Organization

303/Soc. 303. Race and Ethnic Relations. An introductory course in Sociology or CAAS. (4). (SS). (This course meets the Race and Ethnicity Requirement).

See Sociology 303.

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. Cost:2 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)

439/Ling. 449. Creole Languages and Caribbean Identities. (3). (Excl).

See Linguistics 449. (DeGraff)

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

See Anthropology 453. (Williams)

487. Communication Media in the Black World: Electronic Media. No credit granted to those who completed CAAS 486 in Winter Terms, 1990-93. (3). (Excl).

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. Cost:2 WL:4 (Chrisman)

Independent Study and Special Topics

206. Issues in African Studies. (3). (Excl).
Section 001 Listening to Africa: Oral Sources in African History.
The course introduces undergraduate students to one of the principal tools of African history: working with oral sources. The main objective of the course is to explore the methodologies and practices of oral history in Africa. Class discussions will focus on methodological issues in the production and recording of oral sources, problems of transcription and translation, as well as readings of historiographical texts that apply these methods of oral research. Previous knowledge in African history is welcome, but not necessary. The course will be organized in two sections: The first part concentrates on pre-colonial Africa featuring mainly the histories of states, men, and their politics. We will read excerpts of Jan Vansina's theoretical writings on oral traditions along with some of his critics and discuss texts that seek to re-construct Africa's pre-colonial past based on oral accounts by African narrators. To what extent can oral traditions be trusted as an authentic or true representation of Africa's past? Was the creation of oral traditions the privilege of a few specialists, or rather the result of long debates about formulating contested and competing accounts of history? The second part focuses on the use of oral sources in the writing of colonial history. Since most colonial documents remain silent about the experiences of women, rural dwellers, dependent laborers, and other disadvantaged groups and rarely provide insight from an African perspective oral research has been used as a method to supplement the shortcomings of the colonial archives. Historians have asked African men and women to talk about their personal lives, to share their tales and memories about repression and resistance experienced within the colonial context. Listening to these oral accounts, some researchers especially those focusing on African women developed a new genre of writing African history by publishing and analyzing life histories. We will read a selection of life histories from Tanzania and South Africa and also explore texts that draw on archival and oral sources such as Elizabeth Schmidt's account on Shona women in Zimbabwe. In addition, we will view two videos that represent Africa's colonial past based on oral testimonies. Requirements: Two short discussion papers based on the weekly readings (3-5 pp.), and one final paper that explores themes of the seminar in greater depth (approx. 15-20 pp.). Readings will be available in a course pack. Cost:2 WL:4 (Miescher)

458. Issues in Black World Studies. (3). (Excl). May be elected for a total of 6 credits.
Section 001 Black Entrepreneurship and the Challenge of Urban Revitalization.
This course is an intensive exploration of issues facing African Americans in developing new business enterprises. Particular attention is given to the history of Black entrepreneurship, the evolving position of African Americans in the U.S. economy, and the role of Black-owned and -managed enterprises in urban communities. The class is taught as a seminar, with significant involvement by students in analyzing and discussing the readings and issues at hand. WL:4 (Whatley)


lsa logo

University of Michigan | College of LS&A | Student Academic Affairs | LS&A Bulletin Index

This page maintained by LS&A Academic Information and Publications, 1228 Angell Hall

The Regents of the University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 USA +1 734 764-1817

Trademarks of the University of Michigan may not be electronically or otherwise altered or separated from this document or used for any non-University purpose.