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Bachelor of Arts in Africana Studies

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  • Objectives
    The Africana Studies Department focuses on the historical transformation of African peoples as they spread throughout the Atlantic World and beyond. Central to the department is the exploration of the experiences of African peoples with subjugation and liberation as well as their struggle for self-determination and self-expression.
  • Course description
    A concentration in Africana studies consists of 10 courses: 220, 221 (or History 141 for the Classes of 2010, 2011 and 2012), 301, 381 or 382, one 400-level seminar, 550 and four approved electives. No more than two 100-level courses will be accepted and at least two electives must be at or above the 200 level. Concentrators are encouraged to have a basic working knowledge of an appropriate language other than English. The program will accept study abroad and/or coursework in overseas programs toward the concentration with the approval of the program chair. Before electing a concentration in Africana studies, students must meet with the chair to design a program of study, planning in advance so that they will be able to complete prerequisites for courses counting toward the concentration.

    The Senior Program in Africana Studies (550) is an interdisciplinary project culminating in a thesis, performance or exhibition. The project, which must be approved by the chair, is to be supervised by a faculty member who has taught a course in Africana studies or is on the program committee. Students who have an average of 3.3 (88) or higher in the concentration may receive honors through distinguished work in 550. A complete description of the Senior Program is available from the chair.

    A minor in Africana Studies must include 220, 221, 381 or 382, one 400-level seminar and one elective.

    The following courses may be used by concentrators and minors to fulfill their core and elective requirements. Certain variable topics elective courses from other disciplines not listed may be substituted with permission of the chair. Please consult the appropriate departments and programs for full descriptions of courses, requirements and prerequisites.

    Courses and Descriptions

    [101F] Introduction to Africana Studies.
    Examines the nature, methods and development of black/Africana studies. A comparative and interdisciplinary introduction to the study of African and diaspora cultures and history. Emphasis will be on an exploration of some of the key texts and issues.


    120F Introduction to Afro-Latina/o History and Cultures.
    Examines Afro-Latino culture and history, developing a broad historical overview while focusing on the continuing demographic changes of the present generation in and across the Americas. A focus on important historical and cultural links between African Americans and Latinos of African descent. Exposure to a variety of historical, literary and artistic sources, and the perspectives of important scholars and theorists, will permit students a critical introduction to the works and ideas that have formed the core of the growing field in Afro-Latino/a studies. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 20. The Department.

    160F History of Jazz.
    A study of jazz from its origins (its African heritage, blues and ragtime) to 1950. A survey of jazz styles, including New Orleans and Chicago styles, boogie-woogie, swing, bebop and cool jazz. Not open to seniors. (Same as Music 160.) Woods.

    [170] The Mestizo Metropolis: Racialization and the American Global City.
    Focuses on the strategic roles that emerging Latino/a and African communities play in urban centers like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami and San Antonio. Explores how both groups establish and maintain distinctive social and cultural identities in the American metropolis. Film, literature, art, architecture and the media will examine the varying forms of cultural expression and representation of both groups. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

    203F African-American History to 1865
    .
    A survey of the social, political and economic history of African-Americans from the 1600s to the Civil War. Focuses on slavery and resistance, racism, the family, women and cultural contributions. (Same as History 203.) C Williams.

    [204S] African-American History from 1865 to the Present
    .
    The experiences of the African-American community from Reconstruction, through Industrialization and Northern Migration, the Harlem Renaissance and Pan Africanism, to the World Wars and the Civil Rights Movement. Analysis of the construction of “race” in each period and the diversity of the black experience in America. (Same as History 204.)

    214F The Politics of Difference.
    Emergence of "race," "ethnicity" and "culture" as terms and associated concepts from history of colonial relations and in 20th century anthropological thought. History and development of interrelation among terms and concepts with attention to historical and cross-cultural contexts, including space, class and gender, cultural racism in contemporary Europe, diversity and multiculturalism in contemporary U.S., and additional cases elsewhere in the world. Prerequisite, one course in anthropology. (Same as Anthropology 214.) Vasantkumar.

    [218] Politics of Africa.
    Comparative examination of the domestic politics of sub-Saharan Africa. Central focus on explaining the recent rise of both multi-party democracy and state collapse across the continent. Examination of the colonial legacy, the nature of the African state, ethnic conflict, class divisions, the role of the military and the problems of economic underdevelopment. Prerequisite, 112, 114 or Africana Studies 101. (Same as Government 218.)

    220F Africa and the World.

    Surveys African civilizations and their relations with the world from the Old Kingdom B.C.E. to 1968. Focus is on the major historical transformations of the continent and Africa's place in world history with emphasis on social and political cultures. Topics include Africa in antiquity, religions, women, slavery and slave trades, colonial rule, protest movements, decolonization and the end of empire. Interdisciplinary materials include documents, epics, historical monographs, political works, biography, novels, ethnography and film. D Carter.

    221S Africa in Diaspora.

    Examines the experience of African people in the Americas, Europe and Africa from the 13th century to 1968. Themes include slavery and resistance, the return to Africa, freedom after emancipation, the struggle for democracy and a place in civil society, the struggle against empire and imperialism, migration and immigration, race and color ideology, revolution and rebellion, and the struggle for civil liberty. Explores the historical meaning of being black in the Atlantic world and how African people have shaped and been shaped by the historical developments of the past seven centuries. D Carter.

    222F Race, Gender and Culture.
    A critical philosophical examination of the normative categories of race, gender and culture. Topics include the origin, character and function of racial, gender and social identities. Analysis will focus on questions concerning the malleability of these identities, as well as questions concerning their psychological and social significance. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one course in philosophy, Africana studies or women’s studies. (Same as Women's Studies 222 and Philosophy 222.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Franklin.

    [223] Black Female Voices: Writing Women of Color in the African Diaspora.
    Explores the different ways Black women have struggled for equality, constructed their own identity and understood their own place in American history. Emphasizes critical thinking about African American women's history and focuses on the many forms with which we tell the stories of women's lives.

    230F Black Internationalism: The Making of Black Political Culture.
    An examination of the development of a vibrant Black political culture that was transnational in scope and predicated on the shared experiences of people of African descent. Drawing upon the networks of communication created by the spread of ideas, news and rumor during the slave revolts in the Caribbean at the end of the 18th century, as well as writings that included novels, political tracts, speeches, newspapers and magazines in the 19th and 20th centuries. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 101 or one course in government, history or sociology. Maximum enrollment, 20. D Carter.

    233S Geographies of Race and Gender.
    Examines how “natural” differences of gender and race are created through discourses, images, and everyday practices in particular spatial contexts. Using historical and fictional texts, ethnographies, theoretical discussions, and films the course explores the production of racial and gender differences in European development and imperialist expansion. Focuses on three historical periods in the production of racialized and gendered geographies: plantation/slave societies in the Americas, African Colonialism, contemporary globalization and ethnic diversity in Europe. (Same as Women's Studies 233 and and .) Merrill.

    [238S] African-American Theatre
    .
    Study, discussion and oral performance of selected works of drama by African-Americans from the 1860s to the present. Focuses on themes within the plays in relation to the current social climate and how they affect the play's evolution in the context of changing U.S. cultural and political attitudes. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, 110 or 120. Open to sophomores and juniors only. (Same as Theatre 238.)

    242F The Black Self: Identity and Consciousness.
    A philosophical exploration of a variety of historical and contemporary works that illuminate and influence the phenomenological experience of being black. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one course in philosophy or Africana studies, or consent of instructor. (Same as Philosophy 242.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Franklin.

    [259F] Studies in Jazz.
    A study of the life, times and music of selected jazz musicians from 1950 to the present. Emphasis on the range of jazz styles from that era including funky, fusion and free jazz. Prerequisite, 160 or consent of instructor. (Same as Music 259.)

    262S African-American Popular Music.
    A study of the music of selected popular African-American artists, including rhythm-and-blues artists, black gospel soloists and performers of soul music and rap music. Focus on the social issues, musical modes of expression and cultural importance of the artists. Prerequisite, one full-credit course in music. (Same as Music 262.) Woods.

    [268S] Race, War and Society in United States History
    .
    An examination of the relationship between war and racial ideologies in the development of American social relations from the colonial period to the present. Specifically focuses on how issues of race have been central to the ways in which war has been conceptualized and waged both within the United States and beyond. Explores how the social, cultural, regional evolution of the United States is intimately connected to the encounters of various racial-ethnic groups with violence emerging in the context of periods of warfare. (Same as History 268.)

    278F South Africa, 1652-2004.
    Survey from the first Dutch settlement on the Cape in 1652 through the first multiracial democratic election in 1994. Issues will be explored through the experiences of indigenous peoples, such as the Khoisan, Zulu and Xhosa, migrant laborers from Asia, the “coloured” community, Afrikaners and British settlers. (Same as History 278.) Grant.

    301S Knowledge and Method in Global African Studies.
    The methods of scholars differ from the creative processes of artists, but the knowledge they produce provides disciplinary takes on the same reality. Students in this seminar will read and examine exemplary works of scholarship, art, literature, music and film, and focus on the method and/or process by which these works are made. The seminar will also use these works to unravel the nuts and bolts of scholarly writing, citing sources, internal citations and organization. Students will then produce their own writing using at least three of the methods/approaches discussed in the class. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 220, 221 or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. A Nieves.

    [303S] Black Popular Culture.
    Examines black popular culture of the African diaspora through an exploration of a series of representations, cultural practices and folk traditions. Participants will interrogate the "black experience" and its legacy in aspects of consumer culture, film, music (jazz, hip hop, blues), television, social class and gender. Considers the methodological and theoretical implications of these approaches for both anthropological inquiry and Africana studies. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

    [304] Seminar in e-Black Studies: Race and Cyberculture.
    The term “eBlack studies” describes the ongoing application of current digital information technology toward the production, dissemination and collection of historical knowledge critical to the discipline of black studies and to the overall black experience. We will chart the future of scholarship, teaching and community work through the use of eBlack studies, and explore digital culture as it critically interrogates, interprets, defines and documents the experiences of people of African descent. Applications like Google, Facebook, MySpace and Second Life will be examined. Maximum enrollment, 12.

    [307F] Pan-African Perspectives in the 21st Century
    .
    Designed for students to develop a richer understanding of Pan-Africanism in the 21st century. A focus on Pan-Africanism as a philosophy, social movement and cultural phenomenon, specifically focusing on the impact of the movement and the thrust for dignity by African peoples globally. Within Pan-Africanism itself the course will seek to redefine critical aspects of Pan-Africanism in light of interventions by African feminists to end the silences relating to patriarchy and gender oppression. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

    [308F] Reclaiming an Ancient African Past
    .
    Examines the ancient evidence for the Afrocentric claim of the African genesis of Western civilization. Students will also explore the modern political context of and debate around the backlash of eurocentric scholars against these claims as well as the epistemological framing of the sociology of knowledge. (Writing-intensive.) (Same as Classics 308.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

    [310F] Black Women's Experience in the United States.
    Examination of the experiences of black women in the United States from 1800-2006. Emphasis on the intellectual history of black women. Topics include the legacy of slavery, the role and influence of religion and the black church, the history of black women's education, the development of black feminism, the roles of and attitudes toward black lesbian and bisexual women, the role and impact of black women in popular culture and music. (Writing-intensive.) (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, 101 or consent of instructor. (Same as Women's Studies 310.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

    [340] Race and American Democracy.
    Survey of the role of race and equality in American democracy. Special emphasis on understanding how notions of racial equality have advanced and declined throughout American history and the role of race in current American politics. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one 200-level course in American politics. (Same as Government 340.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

    352F Black Protest in the Era of the "New Negro".
    Examines the dynamic nature of black social life, political protest and cultural development from 1917 to 1929. Explores the social, political and economic impacts of the First World War, the meanings of black military service, the "Great Migration," the "Red Summer" of 1919, Pan-Africanism and the UNIA, black internationalism, post-war radical movements and the Harlem Renaissance. Particular attention given to the function of class, gender and diasporic consciousness in shaping the history of this period. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one 100-level history course or consent of instructor. (Same as History 352 and .) Maximum enrollment, 20. C Williams.

    358F Post-Conflict Truth, Reconciliation and Social Justice: South Africa and Rwanda.
    Explores moments of political and social violence in contemporary eastern and southern Africa. Efforts to promote peace-building and social justice in the aftermath of violent conflicts include creating institutions that will foster lasting peace, stability and reconciliation. In the context of South Africa and Rwanda, we will explore a variety of international and national mechanisms for pursuing peace-building and justice, including apologies, truth and reconciliation commissions, war crimes tribunals, reparations and reconstruction. Maximum enrollment, 12. Nieves.

    372S Unraveling Cleopatra
    .
    Cleopatra was a witness to and a shaper of the history of ancient Egypt and the late Roman Republic. To posterity the historical Cleopatra is an enigma, but her image in film, literature, art and popular culture is ever present. Through authors such as Horace, Plutarch, Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw and through cinematic treatments from the 1940s-1970s, this course will explore how the historical figure of Cleopatra became both the signifier and embodiment of sexual and racial politics across historical periods. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one course in classical studies or Africana studies. (Same as Women's Studies 372 and Classics 372.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Haley.

    374 Ancient Egypt[.
    A study of the history of ancient Egypt and of its interaction with other ancient African kingdoms, including Nubia, Kush and Punt. Examination of Egypt’s prehistory, language, social and gender relations, and cultural development. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 240 or Africana Studies 101. (Same as Classics 374.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

    381F Freedom
    .
    Examines how slaves developed a political culture that allowed them to define freedom in their terms and to redefine citizenship through social and political upheaval. In so doing they remade their nations after slavery even as they were forced into new forms of unfree labor. Focusing on the United States and the Caribbean, the course centers the lives of ordinary people as well as intellectuals and political leaders. Included also is a discussion of the rise of new slaveries in Africa and the intersection of emancipation and imperialism on the eve of World War I. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 220, 221 or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. Nieves.

    [382S] Global African Social Movements
    .
    A broad, interdisciplinary introduction to global social and political movements in Africa and the Americas throughout a 200-year period from the revolutions at the end of the 18th century to the modern political and social movements. Addresses theories of social movements, their racial and cultural formation, the variations in type and consequence of movements, and the contexts in which they arose. Examples of movements to be studied are the anti-slavery movement, the Pan-Africanist movement, the women’s movement and the rise of modern NGOs. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 101, 220, 221 or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20.

    [389F] Seminar: African-American Intellectual History
    .
    Examination of the black intellectual tradition in African-American history, from its 18th-century roots to its presence in contemporary American life. Critically engages the various strategies African-American intellectuals have employed to address the condition of people of African descent in the United States. Explores how the black intellectual has been defined throughout African-American history, how such definitions have been legitimated and the place of class, gender and location in the legacy of African-American intellectual thought. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one 200-level American history course. (Same as History 389.) Maximum enrollment, 12.

    397S Lives Against Apartheid.
    Examines the experiences and objectives of protest against the apartheid regime in South Africa through the autobiographies and memoirs of leading participants in the anti-apartheid movement. Illuminates the different aspects of resistance to apartheid and demonstrates how autobiographies now contest the politics of protest and the legitimacy of authority in the post-apartheid, “non-racial” South African democracy. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one 200-level history course or consent of instructor. 278 strongly recommended, though not required. (Same as History 397.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Grant.

    [405S] Seminar: Black Feminist Thought
    .
    Interdisciplinary examination of the tradition of black feminist thought as it spans African and African-American heritages. Exploration of how black women are not simply victims of oppression but visionary agents of change. Areas examined include history, literature, music, art, education, sociology and film. Prerequisite, one course in women's studies or consent of instructor. (Same as Women's Studies 405.) Maximum enrollment, 12.

    495S Topic: Black Diaspora
    .
    Explores the multiple Diasporas created in the course of the expansion of the world capitalist economy – a process that produced slavery and had a transformative effect on world history. Examines the multiple "diasporas" that resulted from this engagement of Europe and the continent of Africa and the consequent dispersal of people that continued with modern colonialism and imperialism. Open to juniors and seniors only. Concentrators and minors given priority. Maximum enrollment, 12. D Carter.

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