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 archaeology, anthropology, history, etc.) with an understanding of post-colonial societies and politics. Cost:2 WL:4 (Twumasi)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

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 also will 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)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

448/Hist. 448. Africa Since 1850. (3). (SS).
See History 448. (Hunt)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

533/Amer. Cult. 533/Hist. 572. Black Civil Rights from 1900. (3). (Excl).
See History 572. (Theoharis)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

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)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

453. Culture, Class, and Conflict in Southern Africa. (3). (Excl).
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)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

Literature and the Arts

341/Theatre 222. Introduction to Black Theatre. (3). (HU).
See Theatre and Drama 222. (Dickerson)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

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, and 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)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

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)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

370/Hist. of Art 350. Special Topics in African American Art. CAAS 108 and 214. (3). (Excl).
See History of Art 350. (Patton)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

380/Hist. of Art 360. Special Topics in African Art. CAAS 108 or 214. (3). (Excl).
See History of Art 360. (Quarcoopome)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

384(406)/Engl. 384/Amer. Cult. 406. Topics in Caribbean Literature. (3). (Excl). May be repeated for a total of six credits.
See English 384. (Gikandi)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

400/MHM 457. The Music of Black Americans. Music background preferred. Undergraduates only. (3). (HU).
See Music History 457. (Jackson)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

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)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

464/MHM 464. Music of the Caribbean. (3). (HU).
Section 001 Caribbean Music and Identity.
In the Caribbean, a land distinguished by migration and displacement, the concept of nation and identity assumes tremendous importance. This course will examine invented and re-invented identities and traditions as celebrated in the music of Caribbean people. Musics highlighted include those from the Netherlands Antilles, Trinidad, Grenada, Surinam, Martinique, Antigua, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Cuba. A combination of lectures and class discussions will uncover a Caribbean ethos based on the generation of new myths and revisions of old, with music revealed as primary indicator for both. Students are encouraged, in their written projects, to explore issues involving musical ideation, discovery, and decision-making in a select Caribbean area. Cost:2 (de Jong)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

465. Dynamics of Afro-American Music. Junior standing. (3). (Excl).
Section 001 Beyond Bebop: Black Music of the 1960s.
The 1960s introduced new directions in jazz, establishing musical styles that metaphorically reflected the world turmoil from which they emerged. This lecture/discussion course surveys the jazz music from the late 1950s to the present, carefully examining it within its surrounding social and political contexts. Throughout the term, we will trace the contemporary legacies of several jazz instruments. We will explore how the bebop lines of Miles Davis became the inspiration for trumpeters Lester Bowie and Don Cherry, and how John Coltrane paved the way for such saxophonists as Dewey Redman and Joseph Jarman. We also will discuss the problems of listening to avant-garde jazz, using this course to train our ears so to better understand the musicians' intents and conscious expansions of musical form and style. Students are encouraged in their written projects to trace the legacy of a chosen instrument, presenting portions to the class at the end of term. Cost:1 WL:1 (de Jong)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

489/English 479. Topics in Afro-American Literature. CAAS 274 and/or 338 strongly recommended. (3). (Excl). May be repeated for a total of six credits.
See English 479. (Zafar)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

Individual Behavior, Cultural Systems, and Social Organization

241/WS 231. Women of Color and Feminism. (3). (Excl).
See Women's Studies 231. (Green)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

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)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

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)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

335/Rel. 310. Religion in the Afro-American Experience. (3). (HU).
See Religion 310. (Miles)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

422/Anthro. 411. African Culture. Junior standing. (3). (Excl).
See Cultural Anthropology 411. (Owusu)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

434/Soc. 434. Social Organization of Black Communities. (3). (Excl).
See Sociology 434. (Young)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

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)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

Independent Study and Special Topics

103. First Year Social Science Seminar. (3). (SS).
Section 001 Family and Conflict in African Society.
This course provides an introduction to themes of generational conflict and changing gender roles through careful reading and analysis of Nigerian and Zimbabwean literature. The novels two by Nigerian authors and two by Zimbabwean authors are examined in their historical context, with students reading and discussing supplemental selections from anthropology, sociology, and history. Each of these novels presents "coming of age" narratives where individuals and families must confront dramatic tests that often pit the younger generation against their parents and individuals against the weight of family traditions. There will be frequent writing assignments, a term paper, and exams. No prerequisites. Cost:1 WL:1 (Scarnecchia)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

358. Topics in Black World Studies. (3). (Excl). May be repeated for a total of six credits.
Section 002 The Politics of Culture in Africa.
The course begins with an examination of the very assumption of "a politics of culture," looking at a scattering of examples and some theoretical writing. The course will then move more closely into a microhistorical mode to examine specific instances or cases and to see what more general perspectives might be drawn from the cases. There is an opportunity, as well, to move back and forth between the examination of specific cases and consideration of the tensions appearing within the fields or disciplines of anthropology and history, historical anthropology, art history, literary studies, philosophy, but also microhistory and cultural studies. There is also an opportunity to draw understandings of the extraordinary, tumultuous, history of Africa in the twentieth century through an examination of range of debates regarding culture and the standing of concepts of culture. Cost:2 WL:1 (Cohen)

Section 003 Community Research Practicum. For Winter Term, 1998, this section is offered jointly with Psychology 305.003. (Barbarin)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

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

455. Seminar on Project and Research Planning. Upperclass standing. (3). (Excl).
A seminar for juniors and seniors working on Honors theses in Afroamerican and African Studies. Fundamental research methods, strategies, and resources are introduced and applied to the students' projects. Participants meet to discuss and present their work to the seminar. Permission of instructor required. Cost:1 WL:4 (Twumasi)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

458. Issues in Black World Studies. (3). (Excl). May be repeated for a total of six credits.
Section 001 Empowering African American Families and Communities.
For Winter Term, 1998, this section is offered jointly with Psychology 470.002. (Mattis)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

490. Special Topics in Black World Studies. Junior standing. (1-2). (Excl). May be repeated for a total of six credits.
Section 001 Racial and Cultural Identity in British Film. (1 credit).
For Winter Term, 1998, this section is offered jointly with Humanities Institute 411.004. (Onwurah)

Section 002 Suzan-Lori Parks. (1 credit). Meets Jan 23-Feb.20. Suzan-Lori Parks is a playwright and screenwriter. She is author of "Girl 6," "Venus," "The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World," "Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom," and other works. At the 1996 Black Theater Network Awards Luncheon at which Parks received an award for innovation in theatre, the following exchange took place: "Moderator: 'George [C. Wolfe], tell Suzan-Lori how much we love her work and how much we want her to keep on writing. We don't necessarily understand what she's writing, but we want her to continue to do so anyhow.' Audience: (great laughter from the audience)." In this 5 week mini-course we will attempt to gain a better "understand[ing]" of the work of Suzan-Lori Parks. Be prepared to prepare oral in-class readings of selected plays studied in the course. Cost:1 WL:4 (Splawn)

Section 003 Black Counterpublics: Theory, History, & Practice. (1 credit). Meets March 13-April 10. This seminar introduces the concepts of "counterpublics," "subaltern publics," and "multiple publics" and applies them to analyzing examples of Black publics (mainly in the United States) from the era of slavery up to the present. We will examine how the "official" public sphere excludes people on the basis of race, class, and gender (as expressed through language, repertoires of communication, and styles of collective action), as well as how specific Black communities have created their own spaces of association and political communication. Examples will be drawn from three historical moments: Black women's participation in religious publics in the post-emancipation period; the relationship between 'hidden transcripts' and public resistance during the civil rights movement; and the questions raised by contemporary Black intellectuals in analyzing popular music and expressive cultures. We will also consider questions of boundaries, diasporas, and the construction of national vs. transnational identities. Cost:2 WL:4 (Sheller)
Check Times, Location, and Availability

510. Supervised Research. Graduate standing or permission of instructor. (1-6). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT). May be repeated for credit with permission of the concentration advisor.
Arrangements may be made for adequately prepared students to undertake individual study under the direction of a departmental staff member. Students are provided with the proper section number by the staff member with whom the work has been arranged.
Check Times, Location, and Availability

595/Hist. 595. Topics in African History. (3). (Excl).
See History 595. (Scarnecchia )
Check Times, Location, and Availability

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

Copyright © 1998 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.