African American Studies

The Department for Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS), one of the most innovative Africana programs in the U.S., serves as the structural home for African American studies at the University of Michigan. Bridging humanities and social sciences, Africa and its diasporas, DAAS offers graduate and undergraduate curricula, as well as a graduate certificate program.

The Department of American Culture (AC) shares several jointly appointed faculty with DAAS, and a number of AC faculty working in African American studies have other affiliations. In close dialogue with American studies, cultural studies, and comparative ethnic studies, the American Culture's African American studies faculty-cluster explores a diverse array of interests: transatlantic circuits of culture, jazz and black musical aesthetics, African American literary production, gender, sexuality and power, black-Native American relations, Asian-African American relations, urban race politics, and, humor and other modes of black cultural production, among others. African American studies is home to award-winning teachers, innovative graduate and undergraduate course offerings, and exceptional scholarship that never fails to push the boundaries.

Our Faculty and their Areas of Interest

Faculty and Areas of Interest

Paul Anderson, associate professor of American culture and Afroamerican and African studies. Areas of Interest: 20th-century U.S. intellectual and cultural history; African American cultural history; jazz and popular music studies; Harlem Renaissance; modernism and critical theory. paanders@umich.edu

Lori Brooks, assistant professor of Afroamerican and African studies and American culture. Areas of Interest: African American arts and popular culture. llbrooks@umich.edu

James Cook, associate professor of history. Areas of Interest: African American popular/mass culture; circumatlantic cultural exchanges and commerce; inter-racialism. jwcook@umich.edu

Matthew Countryman, associate professor of history and American culture. Areas of Interest: African American social movements; 20th-century U.S. history; race, postwar liberalism, and the American left. mcountry@umich.edu

Sandra Gunning, professor of English and American culture. Areas of Interest: 19th- and 20th-century American literature; Afro-American literature; American women writers; travel writing. sgunning@umich.edu

Scott Kurashige, professor of American culture; Director of Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies. Areas of Interest: Asian/Pacific American history; U.S. urban history, Los Angeles and Detroit; comparative race and ethnicity. kurashig@umich.edu

Tiya Miles, Elsa Barkley Brown Collegiate Professor of African American Women, and professor of American culture, Afroamerican and African studies, history, and women's studies. Areas of Interest: African American and Native American interrelated and comparative histories, especially 19th century; African American women's history and literature; women of color history, literature, and feminist thought. Professor Miles was awarded a 2011 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for her work on African American and Native American history. tiya@umich.edu

Penny Von Eschen, professor of American culture and history. Areas of Interest: transnational cultural and political dynamics; race, gender, and empire: the political culture of United States imperialism. pmve@umich.edu

Alan Wald, H. Chandler Davis Collegiate Professor of English language & literature and American culture. Areas of Interest: African American writers and the Left, 1930–1960. awald@umich.edu

Magdalena Zaborowska, professor of American culture and Afroamerican and African studies.Areas of Interest: 20th-century immigrant literatures, African American literature; East European immigrant women writers; race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and (trans)national/-Atlantic identity in the novel; American identity and the city; architecture, erotics, urban and social space. mzaborow@umich.edu

Courses

  • African American Culture WWII — 1960's
  • African Americans & the Politics of Culture
  • American Social Reflection: Thinking about Race and Society
  • Black Social Movements in 20th Century
  • Blacks, Indians and the Making of America
  • Civil War & the Reconstruction Era
  • Early Jazz: Music & World, 1900–1945
  • Exploring the Melting Pot: Immigrant Narratives in the United States
  • Harlem Renaissance
  • Histories of Racial Formation in the Americas
  • History of Blacks in American Film
  • Images of African American Women
  • In and Out of the Burning House: The Art and Activism of James Baldwin
  • Interracial America
  • Modern Comedy in the US
  • Politics & Culture 1960's
  • Politics of Race in US since WWII
  • Race in America
  • Race, Culture, and Politics during the Era of the Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Race, Racism & Ethnicity
  • Sex, Race, and Space
  • Topics in Caribbean Literature
  • Women of Color History & Myths

Recent Faculty Scholarship

Selected Faculty Scholarship

Satchmo Blows Up The World

Satchmo Cover

by Penny Von Eschen

At a time when the cultural contributions of black Americans were being derided, the U.S. State Department found it useful to send luminaries of Jazz music into the world as ambassadors, preceding Covert actions in Europe and Africa. In this Exploration of the significance of jazz as a propaganda tool during the cold war era, Penny Von Eschen looks at how this phenomenon was reflected in the domestic civil rights movement.

Ties That Bind

Ties That Bind Cover

by Tiya Miles

The haunting saga of a quintessentially American family. It is the story of Shoe Boots, a famed Cherokee war hero and successful farmer, and Doll, an African slave he acquired in the late 1790s. Over the next thirty years, Shoe Boots and Doll lived together not only as master and slave, but also as lifelong partners who, with their children and grandchildren, experienced key events in American history—including slavery, the Creek War, the founding of the Cherokee Nation and subsequent removal of Native Americans along The Trail of Tears, and the Civil War.