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, and 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

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

This course is a study of the history and culture of African Americans from the Civil War to the present. We will be particularly concerned with community development and political struggle to understand the ways African Americans shaped their own lives and the history and culture of the United States. We will also trace the development and centrality of race as an ideology and racism as a practice in the United States after the legal end of slavery. Cost:2 WL:4 (Theoharis)

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

See History 448. (Lindsay)

Politics, Economics, and Development

425. Politics of Black Movements in America. (3). (Excl).

This course analyzes several Black protest movements of the 20th Century. It concerns leaders of movements, political environments, and concepts of freedom and liberation. Relevant questions are: Who joined the movements, and why? What were the costs and benefits of the movements? What were the goals of the movements? What tactics and strategies were used to realize these goals? Cost:3 WL:4 (Countryman)

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

This course 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. This course 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)

453. Culture, Class, and Conflict in Southern Africa. (4). (Excl).
Section 001 Culture, Class, and Conflict in Southern Africa.
Issues of culture, class, and political conflict will be addressed in the context of the rise of settler regimes and apartheid and their pervasive influence on different Southern African societies at different time periods. Through novels and autobiographical writings by Southern Africans we will examine the complex questions raised by the impact of settler regimes, industrialization and urbanization, wage work, and Western-type education on the social, family, religious, and philosophical systems that were worked out within historical African cultures. Each week we will discuss one of these writings, focusing in particular on how each author approaches and presents these issues. Writers to be discussed include Alex la Guma, Ellen Kuzwayo, Mongane Serote, Alan Paton, and Nadine Gordimer. Final grades will be based on participation and discussion as well as on a number of term papers. No previous work in African studies is required, but seniors and juniors are particularly encouraged to register. Cost:3 WL:2 (Twumasi)

479/Pol. Sci. 479. Political Development and Economy of Africa. (3). (SS).

See Political Science 479. (Widner)

Literature and the Arts

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. Five medium length papers. Cost:2 WL:4 (Chrisman)

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

See Theatre 222. (Bridges)

348/Dance 358. Dance in Culture: Origins of Jazz Dance. (3). (Excl).

This class is an exploration of the origins of Jazz Dance through movement, as it relates to African-American vernacular dance, the African Diaspora, and American culture as a whole, placing African-American vernacular dance right at its center and providing a broader understanding of the influence of African-American dance and its legacy within 20th-century concert dance. Starting from the early dances of enslaved Africans in the Americas to the present, this course investigates the relationship of African-American vernacular dance to jazz dance forms. Its focus in this context is the influence of African-American vernacular dance and the identification of specific movement motifs and concepts, such as rhythm, improvisation, theme, syncopation, balanced asymmetry, and body carriage, as a clear retention of African culture and rooted deeply in the African aesthetic, as evidenced in the work of George Balanchine, Martha Graham, Jerome Robbins, and Jack Cole. It will identify the commonalities of movement and aesthetics of both, as well as the sociocultural conditions that contributed to their creation and influence in American dance and culture. The course utilizes movement sequences, as well as lecture, group discussion, supplemental readings, film, and video components, to provide both an experiential and theoretical understanding of these concepts. Class will also incorporate improvisation as an essential element through the class, as a basic concept in all African Diasporic forms. Course requirements: Studio participation and regular attendance at all lectures; reading assignments; take-home midterm; midterm choreographic phrase; final research project, and final choreographic phrase. This course is intended for Dance majors, CAAS students, and the wider university community. Two meetings a week, 1.5 hours per session, in a format mixing lab with lecture and discussion. (Wilson)

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/Film-Video 440. African Cinema. (3). (Excl). Laboratory fee ($35) required.

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), Angano...Angano (Madagascar), Xala (Senegal), Sambizanga (Mozambique), Sankofa (Ethiopia), Guimba (Mali), 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)

475/Engl. 477. Early Afro-American Literature. Permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

See English 477. (Zafar)

489/English 479. Topics in Afro-American Literature. CAAS 274 and/or 338 strongly recommended. (3). (Excl). May be repeated for a total of 6 credits.

See English 479. (Ross)

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. (Bonilla-Silva)

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-African families, such as, teenage pregnancies, drug abuse, and welfare dependency will be addressed. Cost:2 WL:4 (Wilson)

335/Rel. 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)

434/Soc. 434. Social Organization of Black Communities. (3). (Excl).

See Sociology 434. (Young)

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. This course 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. Cost:2 WL:4 (Wagaw)

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

358. Topics in Black World Studies. (3). (Excl). May be elected for a total of 6 credits.
Section 001 Social Change in 20th Century Africa.
For Winter Term, 1997, this section is offered jointly with History 396.004 (Lindsay)

Section 002 Black Urban Youth. Black urban youth have been the subject recently of enormous public fascination and far-reaching social policy. This seminar seeks to examine this public interest to look at how Black urban youth are being portrayed and treated publicly, why they are being understood in particular ways, what is being left out, and the impact of this interest on the lives of Black urban young people themselves. Focusing on particular issues such as education, leisure, violence, sexuality, family, health, and race, we will examine a variety of materials from film to journalism to ethnographies to novels to sociological studies to develop a fuller understanding of the lives and experiences of Black urban young people. We will place our studies within an historical framework in order to understand what is new about this contemporary situation, what has changed, and what reflects larger trends in American social, political, and economic life. Cost:2 WL:4 (Theoharis)

Section 003 Black Women's History. (Brown)

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

For 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 requirements 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 second week of the term. It is therefore advisable to submit applications (available in Room 200 West Hall) in advance of the beginning of the independent study term and, upon approval, an electronic override will be issued.

458. Issues in Black World Studies. (3). (Excl). May be elected for a total of 6 credits.
Section 001 Race, Gender, and Poverty.
This course examines contemporary American poverty with an eye on race and gender as fundamental dimensions of inequality. It explores how national income distribution policies, segmented labor markets, regional labor markets, and recent political and economic trends impact on people to increase the number who are poor. We will cover societal responses to poverty, the nature of entitlement for different populations, with specific attention to the role of gender and race. Reports of qualitative social science research will help us examine the social system as it is seen by the poor and explore how they cope in an affluent society. Familiarity with the social sciences would be an asset in this class. There will be four short, graded writing assignments, a research paper, and several non-graded writing assignments that have to be completed to get a grade. Texts include Jay MacLeod, Ain't No Makin' It: Leveled Aspirations in a Low-Income Neighborhood and Jill Quadagno, The Color of Welfare: How Racism Undermined the War on Poverty. The course will have lecture, discussion, and student presentations. Cost:2 WL:4 (Higginbotham)

558. Seminar in Black World Studies. Graduate standing or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl). May be repeated for a total of 6 credits.
Section 001 The Black Middle Class: Historical and Contemporary Issues.
The Black middle class has been the subject of new historical and sociological research. Critical questions revolve around the ways that members of this population understand and balance issues of privilege and oppression. Topics covered include the ethic of social responsibility and its influence on the development of a Black professional class; employment patterns; and the contemporary mobility experiences. Gender differences as they relate to macro structures and the subjective experience will also be examined. The goal is to examine the complex role of the Black middle class in American society. Students should have some background in African-American history, especially an understanding of social structural changes in the 20th century. Students will be responsible for keeping a reflective journal to help them identify how issues in the reading relate to their key research questions. There will also be short papers and a longer paper or proposal. Students will be evaluated on all written work and classroom participation. Required texts will include: Uplifting the Race by Kevin Gaines; What a Woman Ought To Be and To Do by Stephanie J. Shaw; Black Wealth/White Wealth by Melvin Oliver and Thomas Shapiro; Living with Racism by Joe Feagin and Melvin Sikes; and I've Known Rivers: Lives of Loss and Liberation by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. The seminar is mostly discussion of the reading and related materials, but some lecture when needed. Cost:3 WL:4 (Higginbotham)


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