The program in African and African-American Studies offers opportunities for students to explore the social, political and intellectual history as well as the literature, culture and artistic life of various peoples in the world who are African or of African descent.
The program examines a wide spectrum of experiences and issues and is both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary in its approach. Courses are offered in the humanities, the social sciences and the performing arts. Main areas of concentration are East, West and Central Africa; the United States; and the Caribbean.
Students who major in the program are encouraged to design a course of study that focuses on either a particular area of interest or a more comprehensive examination of black culture and life. Students also have opportunities to do research with faculty or to take internships with organizations such as the Missouri Historical Society. Our summer programs in Kenya and Senegal, as well as study abroad in other African countries, can further enrich the student experience.
Courses in the program are numbered to assist students to progress from introductory courses (100-/200-level) to intermediate courses (300-level or higher) to advanced courses (400-level). The program also regularly sponsors lectures on topics of interest in all areas of the black experience. In many cases, lecturers participate in classes by giving special lectures within the classroom setting.
Departmental Prizes: The program also sponsors writing competitions that include monetary awards. They include the Undergraduate Essay Prize for the best essay on any subject related to the culture and life of Africans or African-descended people anywhere in the diaspora; the Graduate Essay Prize for the best essay on any subject related to the culture and life of Africans or African-descended people anywhere in the diaspora by a graduate student; and the prize for the best Student Essay in a Foreign Language that honors the best student writing related to Africa or to African-descended people anywhere in the diaspora that is written in a language other than English.
The Major in African and African-American Studies
Total units required: 31 units
|AFAS 1002||Foundations in African and African-American Studies||1|
|AFAS 255||Introduction to Africana Studies||3|
|AFAS 401||Senior Seminar||3|
Elective courses: 24 units at the 300 level or above, at least 6 units of which must be at the 400 level.
These elective units will include at least one course from each of four focus areas around which the major is organized: Creativity, Aesthetics, and the Imagination; Social and Historical Configurations (Social and Structural Analysis); Black Gender and Sexuality Studies; and Global Africa and Diaspora Currents. In addition, students should take at least three courses in any of the focus areas.
Students will also take one semester of a foreign language. Wolof or Swahili are strongly encouraged, but other languages will be considered if taken in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies.
Co-Curricular Opportunities for Majors: The program regularly sponsors lectures and events, such as plays, film festivals, exhibits, field trips, and panels and speakers, which focus on contemporary or perennial topics of interest in all areas of the Black experience. In many cases, guest lecturers and artists visit classes and interact directly with students. These program-sponsored events are designed to foster a vibrant social and intellectual community within the program and to give our students a sense of identity of what it means to be part of the African and African-American Studies community. We encourage our majors to participate in these activities to complement the classroom experiences.
Senior Honors: If a student maintains an overall grade point average of at least 3.65 and a major grade point average of 3.50 by the second semester of their junior year, they may be eligible to conduct a Latin Honors thesis with a core faculty member in the program in African and African-American Studies. Completed application forms for Honors should be submitted to the honors program director as early as possible, preferably before May 1 of the junior year.
The Minor in African and African-American Studies
Units required: 19
|AFAS 1002||Foundations in African and African-American Studies||1|
|AFAS 255||Introduction to Africana Studies||3|
Elective courses: 15 units at the 300 level or above, chosen in consultation with the adviser.
Co-Curricular Opportunities for Minors: The program regularly sponsors lectures and events, such as plays, film festivals, exhibits, field trips, and panels and speakers, which focus on contemporary or perennial topics of interest in all areas of the Black experience. In many cases, guest lecturers and artists visit classes and interact directly with students. These program-sponsored events are designed to foster a vibrant social and intellectual community within the program and to give our students a sense of identity of what it means to be part of the African and African-American Studies community. We encourage our minors to participate in these activities to complement the classroom experiences.
Visit online course listings to view semester offerings for L90 AFAS.
L90 AFAS 1002 Foundations in African and African-American Studies
Designed to introduce the student to issues in African and African-American Studies and how students with AFAS degrees utilize their knowledge in graduate and professional programs or the working world. Particular attention is paid to the discipline of African and African-American studies, which engages with the artistic, cultural, historical, literary and theoretical expressions of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora. Faculty members as well as St. Louis professionals give one-hour lectures on their particular disciplinary approach, their research or their professional lives. Students are required to attend three outside lectures or performances. May be taken before declaring major, and may be taken by non-majors.
L90 AFAS 103D Beginning Swahili I
A beginning language course emphasizing acquisition of reading, writing and conversational skills in Swahili language. Through video and other multimedia presentations, students also are introduced to the culture of Swahili-speaking communities living in more than a dozen African countries. Five hours a week including culture and language laboratory hours. This course is strongly recommended for students participating in the Summer in Kenya Program. CET course.
L90 AFAS 1045 Wolof Language and Culture
This course introduces students to Wolof language and culture. Wolof is a West African language spoken in Senegal and the Gambia. It is also spoken on a smaller scale in Mauritania, Mali, French Guinea and in the migrant communities in the United States and France. This is the first course of a beginning-level of a Wolof program. In order to acquire a basic proficiency, students practice speaking, reading, writing and listening. Each module begins with a thematic and practical dialogue from which we can study vocabulary, aspects of grammar as well as a cultural lesson. Interactive material, including texts, images, videos, films and audio, are provided. Its aim is to provide students with knowledge of the basic structures of the language and the ability to communicate. Students also learn important aspects of life and culture of the Wolof.
L90 AFAS 1046 Wolof Language and Culture II
This course continues the introductory study of Wolof language and culture. Wolof is a West African language spoken in Senegal and the Gambia. It is also spoken on a smaller scale in Mauritania, Mali, French Guinea and in the migrant communities in the United States and France. In this second course of a beginning level of a Wolof program, students practice speaking, reading, writing and listening. Each module begins with a thematic and practical dialogue from which we can study vocabulary, aspects of grammar as well as a cultural lesson. Interactive material, including texts, images, videos, films and audio, are provided. The course's aim is to provide students with knowledge of the more advanced structures of the language and the ability to communicate. Students learn important aspects of life and culture of the Wolof.
L90 AFAS 104D Beginning Swahili II
Second-semester Swahili language course emphasizing conversational competence and knowledge of Swahili-speaking cultures of East Africa. In addition to learning grammar and vocabulary sufficient to allow a student to perform basic survival tasks (asking for directions, buying a ticket for travel, checking into a hostel, ordering food) in Swahili, students also are introduced to authentic Swahili texts including plays, short stories and newspapers. Students have an opportunity to practice their acquired language skills by interacting with Swahili-speakers in the St. Louis region. Prerequisite: AFAS 103D. CET course.
L90 AFAS 1096 Ragtime
A history of ragtime music: survey of composers and performers. Emphasis on St. Louis and the music of Scott Joplin. University College students should register for U24 109 Section 02.
Same as L27 Music 109
L90 AFAS 111 Freshman Seminar: Race and Ethnicity on American Television
This course presents a historical overview of the forms that racial and ethnic representations have taken in American television. The course charts changes in public perception of racial and ethnic difference in the context of sweeping cultural and social transformations. The course examines notions of medium and ponders the implications for these identities of the contemporary practice of "narrowcasting." Required screening.
Same as L53 Film 110
L90 AFAS 1181 First-Year Seminar: Beats & Rhymes - Hip-Hop in American Culture
On its surface, hip-hop is fundamentally about making music: a creative combination of beats, flow, samples and rhymes. And yet, beneath the surface lies so much more. Although hip-hop culture writ large (lyrics, fashion, dance and lifestyle) influences many on a global level, this class will explore the meaning of hip-hop primarily from African-American informed social and political perspectives. In what ways does hip-hop intersect with American culture, specifically on the fields of race, ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality? Without a doubt, it does so in intriguing, contested, and often problematic ways.
L90 AFAS 1201 Freshman Seminar: Race and Performance
What does it mean to "act black"? What about "acting Jewish"? This course looks at performances of racial and ethnic identity, mostly in the United States, mostly in the 20th century. We examine novels (such as Nella Larsen's Passing), plays (such as Anna Deavere Smith's Fires in the Mirror), and performances of everyday life (such as "Cowboys and Indians") to investigate the performance of race in public. Once we begin to explore the social and cultural performance of race, will it all turn out to be "only" an act?
Same as L15 Drama 120
L90 AFAS 136 Freshman Seminar: The Concept of Race in Black Thought
Although many people now believe that the idea of biologically distinct human races is a socially constructed fiction, the color of one's skin can play a major role in determining such aspects of life as where one lives, the quality of one's education, and one's access to health care. Clearly, perceptions of race still hold a great deal of power, whether or not they are based upon scientifically sound reasoning. Therefore, we must attempt to understand how notions of race emerged and where they seem to be headed. In this course, we examine the role of race in American life, past and present.
L90 AFAS 160 Black is Beautiful: Race and Representation in American Fashion
This course will introduce students to using fashion as a lens to unpack race and representation in popular culture. Each week's theme - Fashioning the Black Body, Slavery and Clothing, Clothing and Black Freedom Struggles, Fashion and Jazz and Hip Hop, Black Grooming and Beauty for the Masses and more - intersects with discourses surrounding gender and sexuality, performance, sociology, musicology and more challenging students to rethink how we see and discuss the black body in the mainstream. What does it mean for race to be used a trend in American fashion? How did African Americans use clothing and grooming to proclaim in their communities and in the mainstream that they were beautiful? How was clothing used during American slavery to denote racial and class lines? How did African Americans use clothing in freedom struggles from the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter as a mode of communication? What role did hip hop play in shaping both the American fashion industry and mainstream perceptions of black life? How have mainstream fashion publications, clothing brands and more perpetuated and appropriated stereotypes of black life? How did black fashion publications introduce new images of black femininity into the mainstream? Using primary sources and texts on fashion theory, representation and African-American history, this course explores these inquiries into how fashion shapes race and how African Americans have used fashion as a site for reclamation in an effort to subvert tropes and establish agency.
L90 AFAS 162 First Year Seminar: Contextualizing Problems in Contemporary Africa
Africa is typically presented in the United States and international media as a continent in constant turmoil. This freshman seminar challenges this simplistic and common myth by exploring the historical and global roots of key issues facing contemporary Africa. Case studies include the 1994 genocide in Rwanda; post-Apartheid violence in South Africa; HIV/AIDS in Africa; oil and corruption in Nigeria; the legacy of colonialism; the quest for modernity; refugees and forced migration; and commercial sex work. In each of these cases students explore how the issue emerged within a specific historical, social and global context. We investigate the implications of various forms of inequalities (e.g., between the global north and global south, within Africa, and among generations and genders) in shaping each topic and how differently situated people within Africa understand, respond to and cope with everyday realities. Readings include anthropological and historical analysis, African literature, journalist's accounts and popular articles. By the end of the course, students should be able to critically assess the value of using a contextual analysis in understanding problems in contemporary Africa. This class is a discussion-based seminar and students are expected to actively participate. Students are graded on a series of analytical essays, a final project and in-class participation.
L90 AFAS 178 First-Year Seminar: Imagining and Creating Africa: Youth, Culture, and Change
The goal of this course is to provide a glimpse into how youth reshape African society. Whether in North Africa with the Arab Spring, in West Africa with university strikes, or in East Africa through a linguistic full bloom, youth have been shaping social responses to societies for a long period. In this course, we study social structures, including churches, NGOs, and developmental agencies as well as learn about examples of Muslim youth movements and the global civil society. The course explores how youth impact cultural movements in Africa and how they influence the world. In particular, we examine hip-hop movements, sports, and global youth culture developments that center on fashion, dress, dance, and new technologies. By the end of the course, students will have enriched ideas about youth in Africa and ways to provide more realistic comparisons to their counterparts in the United States.
L90 AFAS 188 Freshman Seminar: Self and Identity in African-American Literature
For whom should the black author write? In this seminar we consider how African-American literature examines the meaning of African-American identity, the individual's relationship with the community, and the often vexed relationship of the black author to the American mainstream. We read classic authors as well as some less familiar ones. W.E.B. Du Bois, Nella Larsen, James Baldwin and Octavia Butler are just some of the possibilities. Class participation and regular reading logs are required. Freshmen only.
L90 AFAS 195C Introduction to African-American Images in Film: A Freshman Seminar
This seminar for freshmen introduces students to an array of films depicting African Americans at different points in the history of filmmaking, as well as the relevance of these films to the advancement of civil rights in America and, by extension, the world. Students are introduced to elementary documentary film production in collaboration with Washington University library staff and hands-on utilization of the Henry Hampton Archive. The course provides a balanced introduction to various civil rights topics that are relevant to African Americans, their depiction in film, and knowledge of how documentary film production can be used to overcome past discrimination.
L90 AFAS 196C Images of Africa in Literature and Art, ca. 1800 to Present Day
This course examines representations of Africa, African peoples and African cultures from the early 19th century to the present day. Drawing on a wide variety of African and colonial source materials — including novels, photographs, art, advertising and movies — we critically explore the ways in which historical developments and cultural products helped to shape conceptions of African identities and ethnicities. Among other issues, we address the legacy of the slave trade; gender and the construction of cultural "traditions"; colonial society, nationalist resistance and the rise of pan-Africanism; and South African Apartheid. Emphasis is placed on critical engagement with the source materials through written assignments and participation in class discussion. Freshmen only.
L90 AFAS 200A Introduction to African Literature
James Bond, in Casino Royale, introduces us to Africa with a group of men betting on a fight between a mongoose and a snake; Hotel Rwanda creates an Africa of beautiful landscapes marred by the violence of genocide; Casablanca positions Africa as the site of wartime fantasy, intrigue and romance. These imaginary Africas, however, obscure the continent's irreducible complexity. As many as 3,000 languages are spoken across Africa's 54 countries, each defined by a unique blend of urban and rural cultures. The people of the Central African country of Chad belong to more than 100 ethnic groups. From their regional affiliations to their sociocultural perspectives, Africa's writers are no less diverse, its literary traditions no less dynamic. By examining texts from various genres and regions, we will trace the development of African literature by considering its roots in the oral traditions and colonial history of the continent, its role in the articulation of African subjectivity on the road to independence, its response to the challenges of the post-independence era, and its present-day stronghold within the global literary marketplace. Readings will include works by Ferdinand Oyono, Nadine Gordimer, Ousmane Sembène, Assia Djebar, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Dinaw Mengestu, among others. No prior knowledge of the literature of Africa is required.
L90 AFAS 203D Intermediate Swahili III
Enhanced acquisition of language fundamentals acquired in first-year Swahili through performance, reading and writing. Students gain skills performing role-plays such as asking for directions, booking a bus ticket, ordering food in a restaurant, etc. Students read more authentic Swahili texts including plays, short stories, newspapers and poems. Prerequisite: AFAS 103D(Q) –104D(Q) or the equivalent. CET course.
L90 AFAS 204D Intermediate Swahili IV
Fourth-semester Swahili language course emphasizes the development of the ability to discuss a wide range of cultural and literary topics with native speakers of the language. These topics are introduced by reading authentic Swahili texts such as plays, novels, poems and newspapers. Students enhance their writing skills and creativity in the language through group-writing projects. Prerequisite: AFAS 103D(Q), 104D(Q) and 203 D(Q). CET course.
L90 AFAS 208B African-American Studies: An Introduction
Lectures, readings, films and discussions reflect a range of academic approaches to the study of African-American people. Course materials drawn from literature, history, archeology, sociology and the arts to illustrate the development of an African-American cultural tradition that is rooted in Africa, but created in the Americas. Required for the major.
L90 AFAS 209B African Studies: An Introduction
This course introduces students to a variety of approaches to the study of Africa by considering the ways that scholars have understood the African experience. It exposes students to the history, politics, literary and artistic creativity of the continent. Emphasis is placed on the diversity of African societies, both historically and in the present, and explore Africa's place in the wider world. Required for the major.
L90 AFAS 210 The Linguistic Legacy of the African Slave Trade in Interdisciplinary Perspective
This course explores the linguistic consequences of the African slave trade, and in so doing introduces students to basic concepts in linguistic science that are relevant to human language development and controversial educational theories that are based on race. Anthropological, linguistic and psychological dimensions of African-American culture are embedded within complementary evaluations of educational controversies surrounding the teaching of (standard) English to American slave descendants, including the Ebonics controversy and its relevance to larger questions of social efficacy, and the affirmative action debate that has consumed the nation. Students work individually or in groups to produce a major intellectual artifact (e.g., a term paper, a scholarly webpage or a project) pertaining to the linguistic plight of citizens within this African diaspora. Students are introduced to foundational African-American studies in anthropology, education, English, linguistics and psychology.
L90 AFAS 215C Topics in African-American Studies
L90 AFAS 220 Topics in AMCS: Don't Believe the Hype: Race, Media, and Social Movements in America
This course introduces students to the different approaches and methodologies within the American Culture Studies field, including those represented by literature, history, sociology and political science; at the same time, we will learn key concepts within the field that will inform their future work. These are presented in a semester-specific topic of focus; consult course listings for a description of the current offering. The course is ideal for AMCS majors and minors, but others are welcome. This course fulfills the "Introductory Course" requirement for AMCS majors and minors.
Same as L98 AMCS 220
L90 AFAS 2230 The African Diaspora: Black Internationalism Across Time and Space
This course is an introduction to the history of the African diaspora. It engages the following questions: What constitutes a diaspora and what is the African diaspora in particular? Where is it? What were the conditions that led to the dispersal of Africans throughout the world? How have Africans in the diaspora constructed cultural and political identities across time and space? What were the circumstances that led to the dispersal of Africans? When the dispersal resulted from conditions of inequality, as was the case when the transatlantic slave trade led to the forced migration of Africans to the "new world," what were the legacies of that inequality? How has the African presence transformed the societies in question? Though the course focuses on readings from the United States, the Caribbean and South America, students also are exposed to the African diaspora as a series of dispersals, with a view to placing the African diaspora in the "new world" within the historic context of a longer history of African dispersal.
L90 AFAS 2250 First-Year Seminar: African-American Women's History: Sexuality, Violence, and the Love of Hip-Hop
Black women, much like their male counterparts, have shaped the contours of African-American history and culture. Still, close study of African-American women's history has burgeoned only within the past few decades as scholars continue to uncover the multifaceted lives of Black women. This course will explore the lived experiences of Black women in North America through a significant focus on the critical themes of violence and sexuality. We will examine African-American women as the perpetrators and the victims of violence, as the objects of sexual surveillance, as well as explore a range of contemporary debates concerning the intersections of race, class and gender, particularly within the evolving hip-hop movement. We will take an interdisciplinary approach through historical narratives, literature, biographies, films and documentaries.
L90 AFAS 230A Black-Jewish Relations in the United States
The relationship of blacks and Jews in the United States is at once intimate and strained, mutually beneficial and antagonistic. This course examines this uneasy alliance from a number of perspectives including anthropology, politics and identity politics, history, religion and class. Beginning with American anthropology's Jewish founding father, Franz Boas, challenging the concept of race, the course traces the relations of blacks and Jews throughout the 20th century and in our contemporary moment. We will pay particular attention to the civil rights era, which is commonly upheld as the golden age of black-Jewish relations, as well as to this alliance's unraveling in the post-civil rights era. The course then moves to a unit focused on more recent ruptures and collaborations including the 1991 Crown Heights race riots, during which Orthodox Jews clashed with their black neighbors, and Jewish involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement. The course concludes with a unit on identity and identity politics focused on the complexity and fluidity of the categories "white," "black," and "Jewish."
Same as L57 RelPol 230
L90 AFAS 237 Don't Believe the Hype: Race, Media, and Social Movements in America
"Don't Believe the Hype" will provide students with the tools to critique popular media and its association to social movements in America. This course will explore and analyze how media, broadly defined, including (but not limited to) music, art, film, literature, television and social media, has influenced social movements in very profound ways over the last century. The course will centralize the African-American experience and the Black Freedom Movement in particular and will teach students how to contextualize media and critically assess its impact, and examine the various ways media has played pivotal roles in social movement. Using these skills we will answer the following questions: What is the audience for a particular form of media? When does a social movement become part of popular culture? What is the purpose of media in these situations? How effective has media been for organizing? An integral part to this course will be the use of the Henry Hampton Archive in the Washington University Film & Media Archive. The archive is a repository of primary materials that will be utilized throughout the semester. By using the Hampton Collection students will also learn to analyze and interpret primary documents while also having a more nuanced understanding of history and how media is constructed and informs the way we process socio-political currents that evolve into social movements. Attendance mandatory during first two weeks.
Same as L98 AMCS 237
L90 AFAS 251 Topics: The Ebonics Controversy
This course examines the controversy regarding the status of Ebonics and its role in education. Ebonics is the term often used to describe the distinct speech of 85 percent of the African-American population. The controversy reached the national limelight in 1996 and 1997 due to a resolution by the Oakland (California) School Board, which identified Ebonics as a legitimate form of speech that should be respected. The arguments about Ebonics are multifaceted and highlight significant linguistic as well as educational and political issues. There is the basic question of just what is Ebonics: Is it a separate language, a dialect, slang, bad grammar, broken English or really not a distinct entity? There are issues related to the term Ebonics as evidenced by the various names that academicians have used for the speech of African Americans, i.e., African-American (vernacular) English and African-American Language. Its origins and history also have been debated: Is it a variant of Southern English or are its origins traceable to the language systems of Africa? Further, there is a fundamental, practical question of how to approach the education of African-American children whose home speech is Ebonics: Should a goal in the education of these children be the purging of Ebonics so that it does not interfere with the mastery of Standard English, or should Ebonics be used as a vehicle for learning Standard English? This course examines these and other issues, such as the portrayal of Ebonics in the popular media as well as its use within African-American communities, through readings, films, small and large group discussions, writing assignments and lectures.
L90 AFAS 255 Introduction to Africana Studies
The course provides an overview of the field Africana Studies and provides analysis of the lives and thoughts of people of African ancestry on the African continent and throughout the world. In this course we will also examine the contributions of Africana Studies to other disciplines. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach drawing from history, philosophy, sociology, political studies, literature, and performance studies and will draw examples from Africa, the United States, the Caribbean, Europe and South America. When possible, we will explore diaspora relationships and explore how the African presence has transformed societies throughout the world. This class will focus on both classic texts and modern works that provide an introduction to the dynamics of African-American and African diaspora thought and practice.
L90 AFAS 2674 Sophomore Seminar: Slavery and Memory in American Popular Culture
Sophomores receive priority registration. The history of slavery has long created a sense of unease within the consciousness of many Americans. Recognizing this continued reality, this seminar examines how slavery is both remembered and silenced within contemporary popular culture. Although slavery scholarship continues to expand, how do everyday Americans gain access to the history of bondage? Taking an interdisciplinary approach to these intriguing queries, we will examine a range of sources: literature, public history, art/poetry, visual culture, movies and documentaries, as well as contemporary music including reggae and hip-hop. The centerpiece of this course covers North American society, however, in order to offer a critical point of contrast, students will be challenged to explore the varied ways slavery is commemorated in others parts of the African diaspora.
Same as L22 History 2674
L90 AFAS 280 Imaging Blackness: Race and Visual Culture in the African Diaspora
In 1903 W.E.B. Du Bois wrote that the "biggest problem of the 20th Century is the problem of the color line." By this stage, cinema and photography were already well established technologies that were being used to produce and justify differences between black and white subjects. Collectively through historical and theoretical readings, film screenings, and by engaging with a variety of visual arts practices, in this seminar we will first examine the relationship between early visual technologies and modern understandings of race. Since the development of photography and cinema, scientists, anthropologists, and the state have mobilized such visual technologies to inscribe racialized difference onto black/African/native bodies. Central to our analysis is the manner in which visual technologies have produced the black/African body as not just racially different but also deviant in terms of gender and sexuality. After establishing the historical context, we will shift our focus to consider how contemporary artists from the Africa diaspora use visual culture and aesthetics to actively challenge and critique overdetermined stereotypes of blackness. Throughout the semester we will study the manner in which class, gender, and sexuality are central to the production of the black body, and we will engage with various representations of blackness that consider these intersecting social formations.
L90 AFAS 2991 Undergraduate TA
Credit 3 units.
L90 AFAS 3002 Feminist Fire!: Radical Black Women in the 20th Century
Black women have been at the forefront of the black radical tradition since its inception. Often marginalized in both the scholarship and popular memory, there exists a long unbroken chain of women who have organized around the principles of anti-sexism, anti-racism, and anti-capitalism. Frequently critical of heterosexist projects as well, these women have been the primary force driving the segment of the black radical tradition that is commonly referred to as Black Feminism. Remaining cognizant of the fact that Black Feminist thought has also flourished as an academic enterprise — complete with its own theoretical interventions (i.e., standpoint theory, intersectionality, dissemblance, etc.) and competing scholarly agendas — this course thinks through the project of Black Feminism as a social movement driven by activism and vigorous political action for social change. Focusing on grassroots efforts at organizing, movement building, consciousness raising, policy reform, and political mobilization, Feminist Fire centers Black Feminists who explicitly embraced a critical posture toward capitalism as an untenable social order. We prioritize the life and thought of 20th-century women like Claudia Jones, Queen Mother Audley Moore, Frances Beal, Barbara Smith, Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, and organizations like the Combahee River Collective, Chicago's Black Women's Committee, and the Third World Women's Alliance. At its core, the course aims to bring the social movement history back into the discourse around Black Feminism.
L90 AFAS 301 A History of African-American Theater
A survey of African-American theater from post-Civil War "coon" shows and reviews to movements for a national black theater, such as Krigwa, Lafayette and Lincoln, and the Black Arts Movement. Early black theater and minstrels; black theater movement and other ethnic theater movements in America. Critical readings of such plays as Amiri Baraka's Dutchman, Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, and Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston's Mule Bone. Also works by August Wilson, Ed Bullins, Charles Fuller, Georgia Douglas Johnson.
L90 AFAS 3010 The Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics
As a hip-hop artist Kanye West has had unprecedented impact on the sonic force of music, fashion, politics and videography. Coupling his controversial moments with his corpus of musical texts with special focus on sonic production, this course illuminates "Mr. West" as a case study for interrogating the interplay between fame, gender, sexuality and race. Mostly, we explore how racialized ways of doing iconography, complex ways of seeing, create a distorted or reductive frame through which we see the black and famous. Nonetheless, the course oscillates with entertaining these nuances, while being entertained by the decade-long catalogue of music and visual imagery. Together, we extract the "Politics of Mr. West" in his music and life, while also illuminating the importance of a politics of genius-making in the larger arc of black pop culture tradition.
L90 AFAS 3014 Black Women's Rhetorics: From Health Care to Hip-Hop
The course will permit an understanding of Black Feminism through the interdisciplinary exploration of Black feminist writings, practices and expressions. The course will draw from literature, history, linguistics, sociology, political science, and other disciplines in order to critically examine key issues, assumptions, and debates from the perspective of Black women. We will trace the sociohistoric origins of Black Feminist Thought, ultimately attempting to understand contemporary iterations of Black Feminism within popular culture and throughout the African diaspora. Essentially, this course asks: What kinds of cultural bonds have been created through Black women having a shared racialized and gendered experience? How has Black Feminism been a form of resistance, a kind of technological agency, and a kind of political identity? Furthermore, how have Black women historically articulated their realities to the larger public in an effort to persuade their audience(s) to listen to and value who they are and what they say in the midst of racist, dehumanizing, oppressive structures and institutions?
L90 AFAS 3015 Speaking Truth to Power: The Black Prophetic Voice in America
To comprehend the origins and development of the black prophetic voice, one must first understand the religious history of African Americans. As such, this course investigates how African Americans have historically employed Christianity as a vessel of protest and empowerment. To illustrate how African Americans' practiced faith has ultimately become a platform for speaking out against their oppression, students engage some of the following questions: What makes Black Christianity so distinct, if at all? What is the so-called "prophetic voice"? And how have African Americans used this prophetic voice to bring attention to various issues of social, political and economic concern? Ultimately students decide for themselves what black prophetic voice is and if it is still a viable part of the American fabric.
Credit 3 units. Art: HUM
L90 AFAS 3031 Music of the African Diaspora
This course explores musical cross-fertilization between the African continent and South America, the Caribbean, and Europe. Beginning with traditional musics from selected regions of the African continent, the course examines the cultural and musical implications of transnational musical flows on peoples of the African diaspora and their multicultural audiences.
Same as L27 Music 3021
L90 AFAS 3035 The Sociology of African-American Politics
While this course includes the insights of political science, history, anthropology, law and cultural studies, it is based in sociology. If political science can be said to focus on theories of governance and the mechanics of governmental administration, political sociology can be said to focus on the underlying social forces making civic and political thought and action possible, the consequences of political thought and action, the impact of informal civic and political worlds on the state, and power dynamics between and within groups. In this course, we will consider each of these topics across seven sections.
L90 AFAS 305C Topics on Africa: African Urban Futures
Nearly 50 percent of Africa's population now lives in urban areas. By 2050 this number is expected to triple to 1.23 billion or what will then be 60 percent of the continent's total population. This urban growth is happening alongside rapid economic expansion, technological innovations, and — in some cities — political insurrection. Many of these developments are taking place in peripheral urban areas that lack formal planning, basic infrastructure, and security. Yet, as many theorists point out, the very lack of cohesive planning and stable infrastructure in urban Africa has produced flexible spaces where novel forms of dwelling, work, and leisure are possible. Many residents, often by necessity, rearrange their built environments to make the city function beyond the limits of its original design. In the process, urban dwellers produce new built spaces, aesthetics, and economic practices, calling into question assumptions about what a city is and how it works. What are the implications of Africa's urban revolution for both the people who inhabit these cities and the world at large? How will Africa's urban future shape what some theorists are calling "the African century"? What can contemporary cities across the continent tell us about the future of urban life everywhere? In this seminar, we will explore these questions by surveying a variety of case studies and topics from across the African continent. The purpose in focusing on Africa in general is not to homogenize an incredibly diverse continent, but to make connections across a variety of different contexts in order to explore conceptual debates and assemble a theoretical tool-kit that is useful for grappling with themes that are simultaneously abstract and concrete.
L90 AFAS 3061 Literacy Education in the Contexts of Human Rights and Social Justice
Literacy is a fundamental human right. In this course, we will explore the current and historical relationships between literacy and human rights. This will include an analysis of the ways in which literacy education is fundamentally linked to issues of global justice including political engagement and voting rights, environmental sustainability, gender and racial equality, and participation in the globalized economy. We will investigate how literacy education has played a role in social struggles at local, national, and international levels such as the creation of the Freedom Schools in St. Louis, the Native American boarding school movement, the Civil Rights movement in the United States including the creation of the Citizenship schools, the Ebonics debate in Oakland, California, the Nicaraguan Literacy Campaign, and the current No Child Left Behind federal educational policy. Students will explore how literacy education has been used, in each of these cases, as a tool of empowerment and a tool of oppression.
Same as L12 Educ 306
L90 AFAS 3062 Islam, Culture and Society in West Africa
This course explores the introduction of Islam into West Africa beginning in the 10th century and explores its expansion and development in the region, placing emphasis on the 19th century to present day. It focuses on the development of West African Muslim cultural, social, religious and political life, to understand not only how the religion affected societies, but also how West African local societies shaped Islam. The course also aims to introduce students to a critical understanding of Islamic writing in West Africa. It also examines the organization of Muslim Sufi orders in West Africa through time and space. The course is organized around a series of lectures and readings, as well as print and visual media.
L90 AFAS 306B Africa: Peoples and Cultures
An anthropological survey of Africa from the classic ethnographies to contemporary studies of development. Emphasis on the numerous social and economic changes African peoples have experienced from precolonial times to the present.
Same as L48 Anthro 306B
L90 AFAS 3071 Caribbean Literature in English
Rum! Fun! Beaches! Sun! This is the image of the Caribbean in America today. This course surveys literature and culture from these islands, looking both at and beyond this tourists' paradise. It aims to introduce students to the region's unmistakably vibrant tradition of multicultural mixture, while keeping an eye on the long history of slavery and rebellion out of which the islands' contemporary situation formed. Along the way we encounter a wide variety of texts, from the earliest writing focused on life in urban slums, to the first novel ever to have a Rastafarian as its hero, to more contemporary considerations of the region's uncertain place in a U.S.-dominated world. Toward the end of the course, we also look at important films like The Harder They Come as well as discussing the most globally famous cultural product of the contemporary Caribbean: reggae music. The course involves readings from multiple genres and covers authors such as C.L.R. James, Derek Walcott, Jean Rhys, V.S. Naipaul, Jamaica Kincaid, and Caryl Phillips.
Same as L14 E Lit 3071
L90 AFAS 3080 Imaging Blackness: Race and Visual Culture in Africa and the African Diasporas
This course examines the relationship between race, nation, and visual culture by interrogating the ways in which citizenship in Western nations is racially defined. Through the semester, we focus specifically on South Africa and African diaspora communities in the U.S., Britain, Canada, Germany, and the Caribbean. People from Africa and the African diaspora have historically been excluded from the national imaginary and have sought other forms of belonging that challenge the limitations of the nation-state. First, this course examines the role of visual culture in reifying the relationship between race and nation. Collectively through readings, film screenings, and by engaging with other visual arts practices (photography and fine art), we interrogate the following questions: What is the relationship between early cinema and photography and how have these visual technologies contributed to contemporary understandings of race, particularly blackness and Africanness? What is the relationship between early cinema, race, and nation? How has cinema been used by black communities to signal the emergence of modern black life? How does Africa figure in the African diasporic imaginary through visual art? After establishing the long history of the intimate relationship between race, nation, and visual culture we then interrogate the manner in which artists of the African diaspora and South Africa have employed the visual technologies of cinema and photography to contest dominant representations (stereotypes) of blackness. We engage with the manner in which these artists have and continue to challenge, critique, and offer new ways to think through the relationship between race, nation, and visual culture. Throughout the course we examine how other vectors of power like class, gender, and sexuality are central to formations of race and nation. By engaging with contemporary visual artists of South African and the African diaspora we examine how cultural production, for example, can and does serve as one means through which people imagine their lives, often resisting and revising forms of oppression to create alternative community and cultural formations.
L90 AFAS 3095 African Art in Context: Patronage, Globalisms, and Inventiveness
This course offers an introduction to principal visual arts from Africa, prehistoric to contemporary. It explores traditions-based and contemporary arts made by African artists from across the continent in conjunction with their various contexts of creation, use, understanding and social history. Theoretical perspectives on the collection, appropriation and exhibition of African arts in Europe and North America will be examined. Course work will be complemented by visits as a group or independent assignments at the Saint Louis Museum, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, and possibly a local private collection.
Same as L01 Art-Arch 3090
L90 AFAS 3101 "Give Up the Mic": Black Feminism in the United States
It is a mistaken, but widely held, assumption that black feminism in the United States emerged from the second-wave women's movement of the 1960s. This course offers a different view: the black feminist movement has a long history with roots in the slavery era. This course charts the historical evolution of black feminist theory and praxis from the 19th century to the present through reading texts from a variety of black feminists including abolitionists, anti-lynching advocates, clubwomen, blues artists, unionists, communists, civil rights and black power movement activists, poets, leaders of formal feminist organizations, and hip-hop feminists. We examine essays and books that articulate the complexity of black American women's demand for social, economic and political equality as well as the desire for a vision of liberation based on historical and ongoing struggles against race and gender oppression. We identify the central concerns of black feminist thought, salient theoretical models such as the intersection of race, gender, sexuality and class, and how the movement changed over time.
L90 AFAS 311 Modern Dance and the African-American Legacy
This course examines the works of several African-American choreographers and their contributions to the field of modern dance in America. These works, considered modern day classics, depict important historical events and reveal cultural influences that people of African descent have impressed upon our society. Through the medium of dance aided by discussions, video and class reading assignments, the choreographers' works are analyzed for form, content and social relevance. Studio work includes technique to support learning the repertory. Prerequisite: one to two years training in modern, jazz or ballet.
Same as L29 Dance 311
L90 AFAS 3113 Culture, Politics, and Society in Francophone Africa
France and Africa have a long historical relationship, dating back to the early Euro-Mediterranean empires, the first explorers, long-distance traders, Christian missionaries, colonialists, and today's French West and North African communities. In this course, we delve into this long process of interaction between France and its colonies of Africa. During the first half of the semester, we explore these historical relationships and examine the scientific constructs of race in the 19th and early 20th century. We touch on themes that defined the colonial encounter, including the development of the Four Communes in Senegal, the Negritude movement, and French Islamic policies in Africa. The curriculum for this course includes articles, films, and monographs, to explore these themes and includes writers and social activists living in France and the African diaspora. The second half of the course examines Francophone Africa after independence. Here the course explores the political and cultural (inter) dependence between France and its Francophone African partners. In addition, we examine the challenges of many African states to respond to their citizen's needs, as well as France's changing immigration policies in the 1980s, followed by the devaluation of the West and Central African Franc (CFA).
L90 AFAS 3140 Urban Inequality: Racism, Segregation, & Ghettoization in the American City
The academic study of urban inequality proceeds from the understanding that: 1) cities are deeply unequal, especially when considered in terms of race and class; 2) rather than being random or natural, urban inequality is the product of human ideas, policies and practices; and 3) urban inequality has substantial and enduring impacts on city life and life chances, especially for racial minorities and the poor. Echoing these general themes, this course closely examines the causes, development, and consequences of urban inequality in the U.S. context. In order to explore U.S. urban inequality most clearly, the course focuses on the African-American urban experience and what has variously been called the "black belt," the inner city, and, most importantly, the ghetto. The scope is still national, though, with analyses of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C., Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, Oakland and St. Louis, among other cities. The course primarily draws from sociology and history but also includes insights from anthropology, political science, criminology and law, among other disciplines.
L90 AFAS 3161 African-American Politics
This course examines the historical and contemporary efforts by African Americans to gain full inclusion as citizens in the U.S. political system. The course focuses on topics such as the politics of the civil rights movement; African-American political participation; and the tension between racial group politics and class politics.
L90 AFAS 3212 The Social Construction of Race
Examination of race, ethnicity and racism from a sociological perspective to understand race as a socially constructed phenomenon manifest in a wide range of social institutions. The course focuses on how race and racism impact contemporary social problems and public policy issues including immigration, affirmative action, education, media representation and work. Application of sociological analysis to understand current race-related events. This course has no specific prerequisites but completion of an introductory course in sociology is recommended before enrollment.
Same as L40 SOC 3212
L90 AFAS 321C African Civilization to 1800
Beginning with an introduction to the methodological and theoretical approaches to African history, this course surveys African civilization and culture from the Neolithic age until 1800 AD. Topics include African geography and environmental history; migration and cross-cultural exchange; the development of Swahili culture; the Western Sudanese states; the trans-Atlantic slave trade; and the historical roots of Apartheid.
L90 AFAS 322C African Civilization: 1800 to the Present
Beginning with social and economic changes in 19th-century Africa, this course is an in-depth investigation of the intellectual and material culture of colonialism. It is also concerned with the survival of precolonial values and institutions, and examines the process of African resistance and adaptation to social change. The survey concludes with the consequences of decolonization and an exploration of the roots of the major problems facing modern Africa.
L90 AFAS 3231 Black Power Across Africa and the Diaspora: International Dimensions of the Black Power Movement
This seminar explores the Black Power Movement as an international phenomenon. By situating Black Power within an African World context, this course examines the advent and intersections of Black Power politics in the United States, parts of Africa (including Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria and Tanzania), the Caribbean (Jamaica, Bermuda, the Bahamas and Cuba), South America (Brazil) and Canada. Particular emphasis is placed upon unique and contested definitions of "Black Power" as it was articulated, constructed and enacted in each region.
L90 AFAS 3242 Introduction to African-American Psychology
This course provides an introduction to the experiences of African Americans from a psychological perspective. Throughout the course, we will consider a range of theoretical and methodological approaches that scholars have developed to conceptualize the thoughts, styles and behaviors of African Americans. The course begins with an overview of these theories, methodologies and frameworks. The second part of the course is devoted to exploring psychological research around pertinent topics in the field such as racism and discrimination, gender, achievement and schooling, kinship and family, racial identity, religion and spirituality, and mental health. Finally, we conclude the course with discussions of current topics, controversies, and recent advances in African-American psychology. Prerequisite: Intro to Africana Studies.
L90 AFAS 3254 African Americans and Children's Literature
This course explores two distinct themes: how African-descended people have been depicted in American and British children's literature and how African Americans have established a tradition in writing for children and young adults. It also examines two related questions: How has African-American childhood been constructed in children's literature and how have African-American writers constructed childhood in children's literature? We look at such classic white writers for children like Helen Bannerman, Annie Fellows Johnston, and Mark Twain as well as efforts by blacks like the Brownies Book, published by the NAACP, and children's works by black writers including Langston Hughes, Ann Petry, Shirley Graham Du Bois, Arna Bontemps, Virginia Hamilton, Walter Dean Myers, Mildred Taylor, Floyd and Patrick McKissack, Julius Lester, Rosa Guy, Sharon Bell Mathis, bell hooks, and others.
L90 AFAS 3255 Black Masculinities
This course will investigate and explore how manhood, or masculinity, interacts with ideas of sexuality in public and private life. Together, we will look closely at writers who offer cultural and theoretical frameworks to challenge our ideas of what black manhood is and should be, particularly those writers who are bold enough to represent same-sex desire among black men and women. Authors will include James Baldwin, Essex Hemphill, Mark Anthony Neal, Mignon Moore, and E. Patrick Johnson.
L90 AFAS 326 Literature of the Color Line
In 1903's The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Dubois wrote "for the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color-line." This literature course includes texts written by African-American authors to examine the ways African Americans came to be portrayed in American literature and culture by writers of color, paying special attention to the changing concept of race and African-American citizenship as influenced by American political thought at a time when many of the gains made by African Americans during the period of Reconstruction were repealed. We read fiction, poetry, essays and pamphlets by African-American writers writing through the late 19th and early 20th century, including but not limited to Charles Chesnutt, W.E.B Dubois, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Pauline Hopkins, Frances E.W. Harper, Paul Laurence Dunbar. In addition to the texts, students are asked to briefly examine portrayals of African Americans in other forms of media, such as visual culture and film.
L90 AFAS 327B African Politics
A survey of politics in the states of sub-Saharan Africa. Major themes include the givens of African politics; the colonial inheritance; ethnicity, race and politics; religion and politics; forms and styles of rule and governance; pathologies and nonformal politics; and the international relation of African states. Requirements include two short papers and a written briefing on an assigned country.
Same as L32 Pol Sci 327B
L90 AFAS 3282 Sexuality in Africa
An examination of various themes of African sexuality, including courtship, marriage, circumcision, STDs and AIDS, polygamy, homosexuality, child marriages, and the status of women. Course materials include ethnographic and historical material, African novels and films, and U.S. mass media productions. Using sexuality as a window of analysis, students are exposed to a broad range of social science perspectives such as functionalist, historical, feminist, social constructionist, Marxist and postmodern.
L90 AFAS 330 Topics in Linguistics: The American Languages
Our perceptions about language are shaped by our linguistic backgrounds and practices as well as our social and political ideologies. This course examines the history of American languages in the U.S. and explores the social, educational, and political issues that surround them. Four types of languages are studied: Native American, colonial, immigrant, and new languages (e.g., Hawaiian Pidgin and American Sign Language). We also take a special look at the history and structure of African-American Language which challenges linguistic categorizations as well as language policy and education. Among the major questions discussed in this course are: what makes American languages distinct in terms of their history and social status; what do they all have in common beyond the simple geographic classification of being "American." In addressing these questions we also study the politics of language, the history of language policy and education in the U.S., as well as issues of current debate, such as indigenous language reclamation, the "Ebonics controversy," bilingual education, and the official English movement.
L90 AFAS 3301 Culture & Identity: The Politics of Black Criminality and Popular Protest
Topics course focusing on instances of identity and culture within the American scope. Varies by semester; consult course listings for description of current semester's offering.
Same as L98 AMCS 330C
L90 AFAS 335 Selected American Writers: James Baldwin Now
Intensive study of one or more American writers. Consult course listings for offerings in any given semester.
Same as L14 E Lit 323
L90 AFAS 3405 For Freedom's Sake: The Civil Rights Movement in America
This course provides an introduction to the period of struggle in American history known as the Civil Rights Movement. Our primary task is to survey the major historical figures, organizations, locations, strategies and ideas that coalesce to make the history of the movement. The course broadly covers the years of the Black Freedom Struggle between 1945 and 1971, with a sharper focus on the pivotal years of 1954-1965. By placing the movement within a broader context, the course seeks to identify the historical developments and social realities that made the movement necessary and possible. The class also looks at the years following the movement, and the general transition from Civil Rights to Black Power.
L90 AFAS 343 Capitalism, Exchange and Inequality in Africa
This course explores issues of power and inequality related to exchange and the emergence of market economies in Africa. Case studies include examinations of cattle and bride wealth among pastoralists in Sudan, welfare policies in contemporary South Africa, and sex work in West Africa. In each of these cases there is a complex balance between the value placed on maintaining social relationships and accumulating private property. We investigate the implications of this balance for the production of local and international forms of inequality. The course also introduces students to key ideas in economic anthropology such as the formalist-substantivist debate, rational choice theory and neo-Marxist approaches to power and stratification. By the end of the course, students should be able to critically assess the value of these theories in understanding day-to-day economic activities in Africa. This class is a discussion-based seminar and in-class participation is highly encouraged. Students are graded on a series of analytical essays, a final paper and in-class participation.
L90 AFAS 3430 West African Music and Dance in Context
A West African dance course specifically focused on the Ivorian dance traditions of the Baule, Bete Dan, Lobi, Makinke, and Senufo peoples. The course addresses the relationship between music and dance as well as their social and cultural significance. Study of myths, art, costumes and masks as they relate to various dances and music is also included. A studio course with related reading material.
Same as L29 Dance 343
L90 AFAS 3447 Visualizing Blackness: Histories of the African Diaspora Through Film
The African diaspora and, more importantly, variations of blackness, black bodies, and black culture have long captured the imagination of audiences across the globe. Taking a cue from exciting trends in popular culture, this course bridges the world of history, film and culture to explore where and how historical themes specific to African-descended peoples are generated on screen (film and television). Fusing the film world with digital media (i.e., online series and "webisodes") this class allows students to critically engage diasporic narratives of blackness that emerge in popular and independent films not only from the United States but other important locales including Australia, Brazil, Britain and Canada. Moving across time and space, class discussions center on an array of fascinating yet critical themes including racial/ethnic stereotyping, gender, violence, sexuality, spirituality/conjuring and education. Students should be either of junior- or senior-level and have taken at least one AFAS course. Permission of the instructor is required for enrollment.
L90 AFAS 346 Race, Literature, and Environmental Justice
The course will permit an introduction to the field of Environmental Humanities through an exploration of environmental writings, practices, and artistic expressions. We will draw primarily from literature, as well as legal proceedings, history, culture, art, and digital media in order to understand the relationship between human beings and natural and built environments. We will also examine the interaction of health and well-being to the physical environment, with attention to women, people of color, and the poor as a way of thinking expansively about environmental justice issues. While social inequality shapes how environmental problems are created, recognized, and dealt with, we will explore how differences of culture and power complicate the meaning of concepts like "environment" and "justice" within and between groups. To do so, we will examine the specific roles the humanities have played in facilitating an environmental consciousness and activism amongst various groups of people. We will begin by posing questions regarding what is nature in order to think more expansively about what the term "environment" can denote.
L90 AFAS 352A The Black Athlete in American Literature
The black athlete is a central figure in American entertainment, and has been since Frederick Douglass decried Christmastime slave games in his Narrative. This course will examine literary depictions of black athletes — in novels, memoirs, essays and poems — in order to better understand the cultural significance of sportsmen and women in the African-American struggle for equality, from abolitionism to the "Black Lives Matter" movement. We will read works by Douglass, Ralph Ellison, Maya Angelou, and John Edgar Wideman, among others, and examine the lives and athletic pursuits of prominent athletes such as Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Wilma Rudolph, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James. Popular perceptions of gender and sexuality, in addition to race and racism, will factor into our readings, especially as students incorporate secondary sources into their own research.
Same as L98 AMCS 352A
L90 AFAS 3542 The Quest for Racial Reconciliation
This course is based within African and African-American studies, and it explores the quest for racial reconciliation, with emphasis equally divided between the United States and racial strife in other parts of the world. Although racial considerations are inherent to central themes within this course, we explore various sources of linguistic, cultural, social, political, racial and ethnic foundations of strife at different points in history, and in different regions of the world. Particular attention is devoted to nonpartisan strategies to advance racial harmony within the United States, and other regions of the world that are of personal interest to students.
L90 AFAS 3582 Race, Class, and Writing in the United States and the Caribbean, 1900-1950
Study of the differences in literary tradition arising from the divergent social, racial, and educational milieux of the United States and the West Indies.
Same as L14 E Lit 3582
Credit 3 units. BU: BA, HUM
L90 AFAS 359 (Re)Writing Slavery
This special topics course considers black-authored texts ranging from the 18th to the 21st century to examine the ways slavery has been discussed in American literature and culture. We pay attention to the role of slavery in creating the African diaspora, the contribution of slave narratives to the Abolitionist movement, and how the structures of American slavery did not disappear after the Civil War. We look at the ways Civil Rights-era and contemporary African-American writers such as Margaret Walker, Toni Morrison, and Charles Johnson have appropriated the slave narrative to engage and critique present day concerns. Their works are read against 19th-century slave narratives by ex-slaves such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs. In addition to the texts, students are asked to consider how slavery and its aftereffects have been portrayed in film and other forms of media.
L90 AFAS 35SM Hands on the Past: History, Murder and the Archive
The future depends on the past. This course taps into that understanding by offering an alternative hands-on methods class to encourage undergraduate student engagement with history and archives, both on- and offline. In this particular class, students will be nurtured to more deeply interact with the historical past by exploring gender, race, violence and sexuality through three central questions explored throughout the course: What and how is African-American history conducted? How do we best document the past with students fully at the intellectual table of production and preservation? How do we make history with history? These exciting and diverse interests will be pursued through in-class discussions and course assigned readings, but especially by taking a spring break research project trip across Missouri to various local repositories and the state archives, to activate and fuel the idea of putting hands on the past.
Same as L22 History 35SM
L90 AFAS 3600 Beyond Sea, Sunshine and Soca: A History of the Caribbean
This course examines major themes in the history of the Caribbean from the 15th to the 20th century. The first half of the course will focus on the 15th to the 19th century, exploring issues such as indigenous societies, European encounter and conquest, plantation slavery, the resistance of enslaved Africans and emancipation. The remainder of the course focuses on aspects of the cultural, economic, political and social experiences of Caribbean peoples during the 20th century. Major areas of inquiry include the labor rebellions of the 1930s, decolonization, diasporic alliances, Black Power, identity construction and the politics of tourism. While the English-speaking Caribbean constitutes the main focus, references will be made to other areas such as Cuba and Haiti.
Same as L22 History 3600
L90 AFAS 3601 Beyond Sea, Sunshine and Soca: A History of the Caribbean
This course examines major themes in the history of the Caribbean from the 15th to the 20th century. The first half of the course focuses on the 15th to the 19th century, exploring issues such as indigenous societies, European encounter and conquest, plantation slavery, the resistance of enslaved Africans and emancipation. The remainder of the course focuses on aspects of the cultural, economic, political and social experiences of Caribbean peoples during the 20th century. Major areas of inquiry include the labor rebellions of the 1930s, decolonization, diasporic alliances, Black Power, identity construction and the politics of tourism. While the English-speaking Caribbean constitutes the main focus, references are made to other areas such as Cuba and Haiti. Additionally, the Caribbean is considered in a multilayered way with a view to investigating the local (actors within national boundaries), the regional (historical events that have rendered the region a unit of analysis) and the global (larger globalizing forces such as capitalism, colonialism, migration and slavery that have made the Caribbean central to world history).
L90 AFAS 360A Religion and the Modern Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1968
The modern Civil Rights Movement is a landmark event in the nation's political, civic, cultural and social history. In many contexts, this movement for and against civil and legal equality took on a religious ethos, with activists, opponents and observers believing that the net result of the marches, demonstrations and legislative rulings would redeem and/or destroy "The Soul of the Nation." This seminar examines the modern Civil Rights Movement and its strategies and goals, with an emphasis on the prominent religious ideologies and activities that were visible and utilized in the modern movement. The course pays particular attention to the Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Islamic traditions, figures and communities that were indifferent, combative, instrumental and/or supportive of Civil Rights legislation throughout the mid-20th century.
Same as L57 RelPol 360
L90 AFAS 363 Mapping the World of "Black Criminality"
Ideas concerning the evolution of violence, crime and criminal behavior have been framed around many different groups. Yet, what does a typical criminal look like? How does race — more specifically blackness — alter these conversations, inscribing greater fears about criminal behaviors? This course taps into this reality, examining the varied ways people of African descent have been and continue to be particularly imagined as a distinctly criminal population. Taking a dual approach, students consider the historical roots of the policing of black bodies alongside the social history of black crime while also foregrounding where and how black females fit into these critical conversations of crime and vice. Employing a panoramic approach, students examine historical narratives, movies and documentaries, literature, popular culture through poetry and contemporary music, as well as the prison industrial complex system. Prerequisite: AFAS 3880 (Terror and Violence in the Black Atlantic) and/or permission from the instructor, which is determined based on a student's past experience in courses that explore factors of race and identity. Enrollment limit: 20.
L90 AFAS 364 Bad and Boujee: Blackness, Deviance, and Homemaking in the U.S.
This course will examine the social construction of deviance as it relates to blackness in the U.S. context, with specific emphasis on the impact it has had on how black people make, claim, and belong to home. Here, we are referring to home not only in terms of the built environment (house) but also in terms of legal citizenship and cultural inclusion. There has been, and continues to be, a long history of racial minorities searching for and being denied home in geopolitical spaces that often articulate them as outside of home — as, in fact, homeless — literally and figuratively. This is evidenced by the constant displacement of black people through processes of gentrification; the overrepresentation of black people in carceral institutions; the racialized nature of the housing mortgage crisis; the alarming numbers of little black girls across the country who have gone missing without much public outcry or media coverage; and in the murdering of black trans women. And yet, racial minorities and black people in particular have simultaneously insisted on building and claiming home in the U.S., despite attempts to keep them out. This course will help frame these historical tensions and the subsequent processes contributing to these tensions as they relate to gender, sexuality, class and the nation. Particularly, we will be engaging popular representation and media, the law, and social and public policy to better understand who gets understood as deviant or normal, why, and what (im)material implications such cultural designations have on people's lives. In doing so, we will also examine how black people in the U.S. have mobilized the discourse of deviance as well as acts of deviance themselves, as modes of resistance, to both respond to and sometimes perpetuate systems of oppression organized around the banner of normativity. As such, student will develop a richer understanding of how the bad (re: deviant) and boujee (re: bourgeoisie) life, while seemingly at odds, are generative sites of social, political, and economic possibility. Key topics we will cover: black feminist thought and queer of color critique; blackness, respectability and the rise of capitalism; biopower, surveillance, and carcerality; and urban renewal and scenes/modes of resistance.
L90 AFAS 3651 Black Women Writers
When someone says "black woman writer," you may well think of Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison. But not long ago, to be a black woman writer meant to be considered an aberration. When Thomas Jefferson wrote that Phillis Wheatley's poems were "beneath the dignity of criticism," he could hardly have imagined entire Modern Language Association sessions built around her verse, but such is now the case. In this class we survey the range of Anglophone African-American women authors. Writers likely to be covered include Phillis Wheatley, Harriet Wilson, Nella Larsen, Lorraine Hansberry, Octavia Butler and Rita Dove, among others. Be prepared to read, explore, discuss and debate the specific impact of race and gender on American literature.
L90 AFAS 3662 Experts, Administrators and Soldiers: Governance and Development in Post-Colonial Africa
Between 1957 and 1975, one African territory after another made the transition from European colony to independent nation-state. Widespread optimism that these "transfers of power" would bring a new era of prosperity and dignity dissipated quickly as the new nations struggled with political instability, military coups, social unrest, and persistent poverty. Consequently many western observers and development specialists are certain that they have become "failed states" requiring foreign assistance to develop properly. This course challenges these assumptions by tracing the origins of African governance and economic development from their imperial origins into the independence era. By exploring nation building, economic planning, and public administration from the perspective of political elites, foreign experts, and ordinary people, the class takes an intimate look at how colonies became nation-states. These new perspectives offer students a historical grounding in international public administration and development by exploring how imperial ideas and concepts continue to influence contemporary social planning and development policy in both Africa and the wider world.
Same as L22 History 3662
L90 AFAS 3670 The Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement is known as a southern movement, led by church leaders and college students, fought through sit-ins and marches, dealing primarily with non-economic objectives, framed by a black and white paradigm, and limited to a single tumultuous decade. This course seeks to broaden our understanding of the movement geographically, chronologically, and thematically. It pays special attention to struggles fought in the North, West and Southwest; it seeks to question binaries constructed around “confrontational” and “accommodationist” leaders; it reveals how Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans impacted and were impacted by the movement; and it seeks to link the public memory of this movement with contemporary racial politics.
Same as L22 History 3670
L90 AFAS 3672 Medicine, Healing and Experimentation in the Contours of Black History
Conversations regarding the history of medicine continue to undergo considerable transformation within academia and the general public. The infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment serves as a marker in the historical consciousness regarding African Americans and the medical profession. This course taps into this particular evolution, prompting students to broaden their gaze to explore the often delicate relationship of people of African descent within the realm of medicine and healing. Tracing the social nature of these medical interactions from the period of enslavement through the 20th century, we examine the changing patterns of disease and illness, social responses to physical and psychological ailments, and the experimental and exploitative use of black bodies in the field of medicine. As a history course, the focus extends toward the underpinnings of race and gender in the medical treatment allocated across time and space — the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America — to give further insight into the roots of contemporary practice of medicine.
Same as L22 History 3672
L90 AFAS 368 Emerging Africa: Language, Identity, and Social Change
Beginning with a review of key issues that shape Africa's linguistic history, the course explores linguistic situations in several African countries, including examining the role language plays in constructing identities, maintaining social cohesion, and empowering marginalized communities. An integral part of the course will be a critical look at the growth and influence of urban slang and pidgins in Kenya, South Africa, Senegal, Zambia, DR Congo, and Cameroon.
L90 AFAS 370 Youth, Generation and Age in Africa
It is estimated that children and youth constitute more than 60 percent of the population in Africa. In a context of economic decline associated with neoliberal policies of structural adjustment, many of these young people will face extreme difficulty in finding work, supporting families, and taking on the social responsibilities of adults. In recent years, disaffected African youth have been increasingly blamed for political and social instability. This course examines the condition of youth in contemporary Africa. The course begins with classic anthropological texts on generation, youth, and the life cycle in Africa. Readings address the implications of colonialism, education, wage labor, and urbanization for relations between generations. The second half of the course examines recent research concerning the position of African youth in a context of economic and cultural globalization.
L90 AFAS 3766 Women, Men, and Gender in African Societies Since 1800
This seminar explores the ways in which gender relations have been produced, reproduced and transformed through the everyday actions of women and men in Africa. The focus is both on agency and on structures of power, as we move from a consideration of gender relations during the 19th-century jihads in West Africa to problems of love, sexuality and marriage in contemporary South Africa.
Same as L22 History 38A8
L90 AFAS 3800 Black Cinema: An Introduction
This course introduces students to the films and filmmaking practices from West Africa, South Africa, and Black Britain. Central to the pedagogical goals of this class is to introduce students to the diverse societies, cultures, and perspective of people from Africa and the diaspora through cinema. Students will immerse themselves in the types of social critiques the films engage in as they tackle topics such as gender politics, race, polygamy, migration, corruption, human rights, homosexuality, economic crisis, apartheid, and Westernization. Through critical analysis of films, academic readings, and participating in the annual African Film Festival hosted at Washington University this course will fulfill the requirements set out above. Even though four weeks of the course focuses on Black British Cinema and the social, political, and economic condition of black British citizens, students will engage with the complexities of the African diaspora experience, particularly in relationship to migration, diaspora, race relations, and gender and sexuality. Given that the course as a whole focuses on filmmaking practices, aesthetics and the politics of African and African diasporic cinemas, students will definitely be exposed to a totally different world experience and the diversity of people, cultures, and aesthetics in Africa and the diaspora. Students in this class will also be required to actively participate in the annual African Film Festival hosted by Washington University and will have the unique opportunity to interact with visiting filmmakers. Required screenings.
L90 AFAS 3838 African-American Poetry From 1950-Present
Beginning with the year in which Gwendolyn Brooks became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize, we examine the tradition of African-American poetry and the ways in which that tradition is constantly revising itself and being revised from the outside. We focus in particular on the pressures of expectation — in terms of such identity markers as race, gender and sexuality — and how those pressures uniquely and increasingly affect African-American poetry today.
L90 AFAS 386A Topics in African-American Literature: Rebels, Sheroes, and Race Men
L90 AFAS 3877 In Living Color: Performing the Black 90s
From Cross Colours overalls, to oversized sweatshirts, to boom boxes, the 1990s was loud, colorful, and in your face. But along with the fun of house parties and the growing prominence of hip-hop, black people in the U.S. also contended with heightened criminalization and poverty codified through the War on Drugs, welfare reform, police brutality, and divestment from public education. In the midst of insurgency, creativity, and the quiet that undergirded both, we will study the various cultural productions of black performers and consumers as they navigated the social and political landscapes of the 1990s. Focusing primarily on urban centers, we will study major works growing out of hip-hop, R&B, comedy, television shows, films, and popular literature that attends to the regional differences throughout the nation. In this course, we will use theories from performance and cultural studies to understand the specificities of blackness, gender, sexuality, religion, and geography in the 1990s.
Same as L15 Drama 387
L90 AFAS 387C African-American Literature: Early Writers to the Harlem Renaissance
Same as L14 E Lit 387
L90 AFAS 3880 Terror and Violence in the Black Atlantic
From the period of bondage through the 21st century, terror and racialized violence have consistently been used as a form of social control. This course is constructed to explore the historical foundations of extreme threats of violence inflicted among populations of African descent. The fabric of American culture has given birth to its own unique brand of terrorism, of which this class spends considerable time interrogating. Yet, in recognizing that these practices are commonly found in other parts of the Black Atlantic, students are encouraged to take a comparative view to better tease out the wider strands of violence operative in places like England, the Caribbean and Latin America. Within this course, we explore the varied ways in which music, films, newspapers and historical narratives shed light on these often life-altering stories of the past. Some of the themes touched upon include: the use of punishment/exploitation during the era of slavery, lynching, sexual violence, race riots, police brutality, motherhood, black power and community activism.
L90 AFAS 388C African-American Literature: African-American Writers Since the Harlem Renaissance
African-American literature in the 20th century moves from a renaissance into an institution. Guggenheim, Pulitzer and Nobel prize winners; Communist and Conservative Party sympathizers; Black Power advocates, inaugural poets, Broadway playwrights, Book-of-the-Month Club novelists, along with writers whose allusive and elliptical pages may never win them legions of fans, are among the many whose works we discover together. Written assignments may include two papers and two exams. Prerequisites: none, but related classes such as E Lit 215 and/or AFAS 208 are suggested. Satisfies the American literature requirement in English, and/or one 300-level elective requirement in AFAS.
L90 AFAS 397 W.E.B. Du Bois and the Origins of Modern Black Studies
In particular, we will use the biographies about and the autobiographies by Du Bois to trace and learn about his life and the times in which he lived. Next, we will read most or all of The Philadelphia Negro (1899), Black Reconstruction in America (1935), The Souls of Black Folk (1903), John Brown (1909), and Black Princess (1928), each an example, respectively, of his sociology, history, essays, biography, and literature. Next, we will reassess his legacy within and without scholarship, especially focusing on his impact on sociology, history, political science, and anthropology. Lastly, we will take a closer look at several of his most influential views and concepts, including the talented tenth, double consciousness, the veil, and the psychological wages of race. In this, we will also consider his disagreement and rivalry with Booker T. Washington (and others) as well as his views on and relationship to race, gender, sexuality and art. The overall goal of the course is to provide a comprehensive introduction to the life, thought, and legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois. Through class activities and course assignments, students should also improve their critical analysis, reading, and writing skills. While a previous course in African and African-American Studies, History, or Sociology may be helpful, there are no prerequisites to the course.
L90 AFAS 400 Independent Study
Permission of the director of the African and African-American Studies Program and an African-American Studies instructor required prior to registering.
Credit variable, maximum 6 units.
L90 AFAS 4001 Interrogating Health, Race and Inequalities: Public Health, Medical Anthropology and History
Interrogating Health, Race and Inequalities is intended for graduate students in the School of Social Work and in Arts & Sciences as well as advanced undergraduates in Arts & Sciences who have previous course work in medical anthropology, public health or urban policy. The fundamental goal of the course is to demonstrate that health is not merely a medical or biological phenomenon but more importantly the product of social, economic, political and environmental factors. To meet this goal the course is designed to examine the intersection of race/ethnicity and health from multiple analytic approaches and methodologies. Course readings draw from the fields of public health, anthropology, history and policy analysis. Teaching activities include lectures, group projects and presentations, videos, and discussions led by the course instructors. These in-class activities are supplemented with field trips and field-based projects. By the end of the course, students are expected to have a strong understanding of race as a historically produced social construct as well as how race interacts with other axes of diversity and social determinants to produce particular health outcomes. Students gain an understanding of the health disparity literature and a solid understanding of multiple and intersecting causes of these disparities.
Same as I50 InterD 4001
Credit 3 units.
L90 AFAS 4005 Video Microanalysis: Methods and Tools
The purpose of this course is to explore video microanalysis as a methodological tool for studying and valuing unconscious aspects of culturally diverse settings. Utilizing social cultural theoretical lens, this type of analysis reveals fleeting actions, subtle movements, peripheral events, and nonverbal communication that are not easily identified in real time viewing. Specifically we may look at facial expressions, direction of gaze, hand movements, body position, and use of material resources as micro techniques to expand our capacity to explore minute aspects and alternative interpretations of social interactions.
Same as L12 Educ 4033
L90 AFAS 4006 Internship in Interrogating Health, Race and Inequalities
Internship in Interrogating Health, Race and Inequalities is intended for advanced undergraduates who are enrolled in the course Anthro 4003 and who have previous course work in (medical) anthropology, public health, urban policy, or African and African-American Studies. The internship experience is designed to facilitate students' familiarity with research and evaluation strategies that both address structural factors shaping health outcomes and are sensitive to community needs and sociocultural contexts. The internship experience contributes to students' in-class understanding of the ways that race as a historically produced social interacts with other axes of diversity and social determinants to produce particular health outcomes. Prerequisite: permission from the instructor. Corequisite: Anthro 4003.
Same as I50 InterD 4002
Credit 1 unit.
L90 AFAS 4007 Research Methods in African & African-American Studies
What is research? How does one go about conducting research? How have scholars conducted research on the experiences of people of Africa and the African Diaspora? As a field/discipline that has been interdisciplinary from its inception, African and African-American Studies has always utilized a variety of research methods to study and understand the experiences of people of Africa and the African Diaspora. This course is designed to introduce students to the various methods of conducting research in the field/discipline. It also explores the ways that power, race, and ethnicity have shaped the construction of knowledge as it relates to African descendants. Organized specifically for AFAS majors, the course is designed to provide students with the basic tools to conduct independent research, while reflecting on African and African-American Studies as a unique area of inquiry. Students enrolled in this course are required to have already completed AFAS 255 (Introduction to Africana Studies) as a prerequisite.
L90 AFAS 401 Senior Seminar
This capstone seminar is required for students who are majoring in African and African-American Studies.
L90 AFAS 403 Advanced Swahili
This course aims to help students gain skills in reading and appreciating selected readings in Swahili literature. Although the course primarily focuses on plays, novels and poetry, students also are introduced to Swahili songs, comic books and other forms of popular literature in an attempt to understand the growth and development of contemporary Swahili literature. Prerequisites: permission of instructor and successful completion of AFAS 103D, 104D, 203D and 204D or equivalent experience.
L90 AFAS 4031 Advanced Readings in Swahili Literature
Course designed with instructor. Permission of instructor required.
L90 AFAS 4041 Beginning Graduate-Level Swahili
A beginning language course for graduate students emphasizing acquisition of reading, writing and conversational skills in Swahili language. Through video and other multimedia presentations, students also are introduced to the culture of Swahili-speaking communities living in more than a dozen African countries.
L90 AFAS 4042 Beginning Graduate-Level Swahili II
Second-semester graduate-level Swahili language course emphasizing conversational competence and knowledge of Swahili-speaking cultures of East Africa. Introduction to elementary-level Kenyan and Tanzanian Swahili texts, grade school readers, newspapers and government educational material. Prerequisite: AFAS 4041.
L90 AFAS 4043 Intermediate Graduate-Level Swahili III
Enhanced acquisition of language fundamentals acquired in first-year graduate-level Swahili through performance, reading and writing. Students gain skills performing role-plays such as asking for directions, booking a bus ticket, ordering food in a restaurant, etc. Students read more authentic Swahili texts including plays, short stories, newspapers and poems. Prerequisite: AFAS 4041, 4042 or permission of instructor.
L90 AFAS 406 Sexual Health and the City: A Community-Based Learning Course
In this community-based learning course, students partner with a St. Louis AIDS service organization (ASO) or sexual health agency to explore how the interrelationships among gender, class, race/ethnicity and sexual identity shape sexual health decisions, outcomes and access to services. Students also examine the complex relationship between men's and women's life goals and constraints, on the one hand, and the public health management of sexual health, on the other. In collaboration with their community partner and its clients, students develop a project that addresses an identified need of the organization and the community it serves. Course readings draw from the fields of anthropology, public health, feminist studies and policy making. Prerequisite: PHealth 4134 The AIDS Epidemic: Inequalities, Ethnography and Ethics or permission from the instructor, which is determined based on past student's experience in the fields of medical anthropology or sexual/reproductive health.
L90 AFAS 409 Gender, Sexuality and Change in Africa
This course considers histories and social constructions of gender and sexuality in sub-Saharan Africa during the colonial and contemporary periods. We examine gender and sexuality both as sets of identities and practices and as part of wider questions of work, domesticity, social control, resistance and meaning. Course materials include ethnographic and historical materials and African novels and films. Prerequisite: graduate students or undergraduates with previous AFAS or upper-level anthropology course.
L90 AFAS 4121 Rainbow Radicalisms!: Ethnic Nationalism(s), the 1960s and the Politics of the New Left
The Black Panther Party remains one of the most iconic groups of the 1960s and 1970s. Perhaps one of the most understudied aspects of the Panthers' legacy is their radical influence upon other American racial and ethnic groups, including Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans and American Indians, among others. This seminar considers the emergence of ethnic and racial nationalism among these various groups, as a result of their contact and relationship(s) with the Black Panther Party. Considering the politics of groups like the Red Guard, the Brown Berets, the Young Lords and the American Indian Movement, this course charts the rise and fall of rainbow radicalism as a general offspring of the Black Power Movement and part and parcel of what is commonly referred to as "the New Left." It also considers these groups in relation to the state by probing the dynamic push and pull between repression and democracy. Ultimately, this course grants insight into the contemporary racial domain and current political landscape of America as we discuss how these groups helped to shape modern identity formations, discourses on multiculturalism and definitions of "minority," "diversity" and "equality."
L90 AFAS 4134 The AIDS Epidemic: Inequalities, Ethnography and Ethics
In the year 2000, HIV became the world's leading infectious cause of adult death, and over the next 10 years, AIDS killed more people than all wars of the 20th century combined. As the global epidemic rages on, our greatest enemy in combating HIV/AIDS is not knowledge or resources, but global inequalities and the conceptual frameworks with which we understand health, human interaction and sexuality. This course emphasizes the ethnographic approach for cultural analysis of responses to HIV/AIDS. Students explore the relationship between local communities and wider historical and economic processes, and theoretical approaches to disease, the body, ethnicity/race, gender, sexuality, risk, addiction, power and culture. Other topics include the cultural construction of AIDS and risk, government responses to HIV/AIDS, origin and transmission debates, ethics and responsibilities, drug testing and marketing, the making of the AIDS industry and "risk" categories, prevention and education strategies, interaction between bio-medicine and alternative healing systems, and medical advances and hopes.
Same as L48 Anthro 4134
L90 AFAS 417 Topics in African History: Middle Passages: African Americans and South Africa
This upper-division seminar explores the fascinating transnational relationship between African Americans and black South Africans during the 20th century. These two populations became intimately familiar with each other as African-American missionaries, sailors, musicians, educators and adventurers regularly entered South Africa while black South African students, religious personnel, political figures, writers and entertainers found their way to America. This course details why these two populations gravitated toward each other, how they assisted each other in their respective struggles against racial segregation and apartheid, and how these shared histories influence their relationship today. Readings for this course draw from key books, articles and primary documents within this exciting new field of intellectual inquiry.
L90 AFAS 4213 Sufism and Islamic Brotherhoods in Africa
Muslim societies are prevalent in Africa — from the Horn, the North, the East to the West, with smaller conclaves in Central and South Africa. Islam has played an influential role in these diverse societies, particularly through its Sufi form. Even though Sufism originated in the Arabian Peninsula, it has fit well with African beliefs and cultures. This course aims to explore Sufi beliefs, values and practices in Africa. It reconsiders the academic constructions of "African Islam" by exploring education, intellectual life, economics, gender roles, social inequalities and politics. The goal is to show that Africa is a dynamic part of the Muslim world and not a peripheral one, as it is most often portrayed by the international media or historically, through travelers and colonial accounts. African Muslim brotherhoods have served as political mediators between countries and people (i.e., the role of the Tijaniyya in the diplomatic rivalry between Morocco and Algeria, or its role in reconciliation of clanic rivalries in Sudan). In addition, the course pays attention to hierarchy in particular tariqa. Finally, the course examines how African Sufi orders have shaped their teachings to fit transnational demands over the 20th and 21st century. We explore these issues through readings, current media, lectures and special guest speakers.
L90 AFAS 421A From Mammy to the Welfare Queen: African-American Women Theorize Identity
How do representations of identity affect how we see ourselves and the world sees us? African-American women have been particularly concerned with this question, as the stories and pictures circulated about black female identity have had a profound impact on their understandings of themselves and political discourse. In this course we look at how black feminist theorists from a variety of intellectual traditions have explored the impact of theories of identity on our world. We look at their discussions of slavery, colonialism, sexuality, motherhood, citizenship, and what it means to be human.
Same as L77 WGSS 421
L90 AFAS 4262 Politics of the Civil Rights Movement
This course is intended primarily for sophomores and juniors. The topic of this course varies by semester, dependent on faculty and student interests. Prerequisite: L32 101B American Politics.
Same as L32 Pol Sci 426
L90 AFAS 429 Topics in African-American Literature: Harlem Renaissance
Same as L14 E Lit 4244
L90 AFAS 433 Culture, Language and the Education of Black Students
This course examines the communicative patterns of what is called variously African-American language, Pan-African linguistic systems and Ebonics within the context of public school policy and practice. In addition to a review of the structural and pragmatic aspects of black speech, the course highlights relationships between controversies within the linguistic community, contrasting views of speech within black lay communities, public discourse, and educational policy. Students also conduct a field-based research project in accord with their particular interests.
Same as L12 Educ 4315
L90 AFAS 434B Seminar in Black Social Sciences
This seminar applies a deep reading to social science texts that examine the construction and experiences of black people in the United States from the point of view of black scholars. Readings include theoretical and empirical work. The seminar focuses on the influence of the disciplines of psychology, sociology and anthropology on the policy and social practices that characterize dominant North American institutions. Advanced class level strongly advised.
L90 AFAS 435 Slavery and American Literary Imagination
Same as L14 E Lit 4232
L90 AFAS 4377 Performing Ghosts: Blackness, Performance, and Archival Erasure
Taking ghost as apparition, metaphor, an imaginary, and type of possession, this course focuses on the intersections between performance, affect theory, and archival practice to investigate how scholars and artists contend with the psychic and affective terrors against blackness. Part of these terrors, the course asserts, happened and is happening in the realm of the affective, ephemeral, and archival. Moving across theoretical works, literature, and theater, our readings differently query: how can performance enable us to recuperate the lives of those violently erased from the archive? How to imagine embodiment for subjects "tracked" by history, such as black folks whose bodies suggest other forms of pathology, like sexual deviancy, mentally "insanity," and other forms of criminalization? How have attachments to ghosts been used as a methodology to stage and reperform blackness in the past and in the present? And lastly, how can we capture embodiment (or enfleshment) without live bodies? By rethinking "liveness," "absence," "loss," and "remains," the readings and discussions will offer performance as a methodological and analytical infrastructure to conduct historical and/or archival research.
Same as L15 Drama 437
L90 AFAS 438 Islam, Transnationalism and the African Diaspora
This course is designed for students who are interested in religion among African immigrants and African diaspora communities living mostly, but not exclusively, in Europe and North America, especially during waves of migration to the Americas. We begin in the days of the transatlantic slave trade, where we examine how interactions, bricolage, and influences of Christianity, Judaism, African indigenous religions, and Islam have impacted the African diaspora living in the Americas. We equally examine how Islam served as a means of resistance to slavery and provided a spiritual connection with the motherland.
L90 AFAS 441 Black Sexual Politics
Borrowing from Patricia Hill Collins' perspective in Black Sexual Politics, this seminar examines the historic and popular understandings of black sexuality and how they maintain color line, as well as threaten to spread what Hill Collins refers to as a "new brand of racism." Particularly, this course engages questions about sexuality that have only begun to be discussed with African-American Studies and the larger public sphere. Taking the intersections of identities very seriously, this course interrogates the ways in which these constructions have affected black women, while also being attentive to how "others" are implicated within discourses of black sexuality. Similarly, we will also engage the various distortions of black men — depictions of the black and masculine as almost always violent, sexually and socially irresponsible, brutish, questionable and unfaithful. Together we will use various critical texts and media to better understand the impact and the importance of visual and material images in the interplay of race, sex and politics in contemporary America.
Same as L77 WGSS 436
L90 AFAS 4433 Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?: The Spectrum and Specter of Blackness in Post-Racial America
In 2001, Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, boldly claimed that a new generation of African Diasporic artists had officially heralded a new day in "post-Black art." Six years later a young presidential candidate, born of a white mother from Kansas and a Kenyan father, motivated a black writer for Time magazine to ask, "Is Obama Black enough?" Since 2001, and in the wake of America's first black president, both public and scholarly discourse on Blackness has virtually exploded. New terms and ideas about the "end of Blackness" — as conservative Debra Dickerson put it — seem to enter the popular and scholarly lexicon every day. It is now quite common to hear the phrases "disintegration," "post-racial," "biracial," "post-Blackness," and even "the end of Black politics." This course explores this expanding discourse and attempt to pinpoint what scholars, pundits and cultural critics mean when they employ these terms. It also unpacks the socio-historical context that has given birth to these terms, asking "Why now?" Has the social and political landscape of America changed so much that we are indeed living in a "post-racial society"? Or does the specter of "Blackness" still loom large, haunting American politics, popular culture, sexuality, media discourse, punitive measures, political economy and our understanding of "Africa" in "African-American" and "African diaspora"? Through the use of fictional texts, history, cultural essays and films this course explores the intraracial spectrum that characterizes Black America, while paying particular attention to issues of class, sexuality, ethnicity, ancestry, diaspora formation and global migration.
L90 AFAS 448 Race Politics in 19th- and 20th-Century America
This course explores the efforts of black Americans to use the political processes to claim civil rights and economic improvements in the 19th and 20th centuries. It tracks the aims, ideals and organizing strategies of African-American leaders and of grass-roots organizers. Readings and research highlight the ways African Americans debated agendas, fought over strategies and worked to mobilize voters. We study the ways various groups of people — in rural and urban America — argued over priorities, set agendas for their communities, produced a political language, came together with neighbors to fight for civil rights and economic necessities, and, in short, established a dynamic and conflicted political culture.
L90 AFAS 4483 Race and Politics
From the moment enslaved Africans were brought to American shores, race and racism has been central to the American political project. In this class we will examine how notions of race and racism inform conceptions of citizenship, the allocation of state resources, the development of political parties, and political participation. We will also examine the way that race and racism influence public opinion.
Same as L32 Pol Sci 4241
Credit 3 units.
L90 AFAS 4489 Black Political Thought
Newscasters, pundits, pollsters, analysts and even politicians often think of African Americans as a monolithic population, held together by a uniform set of beliefs that run steady across the entire community. However, this simply is not the case. When it comes to politics and political thought, African Americans, and those who make up the black population in the United States, exhibit a broad range of intra-racial diversity. Manifested along the fault lines of class, gender, age, ideology, and a number of other factors, the complexity of black political thought is built upon the structure of both African-American communities and the larger American political landscape. This course will explore the contours of black political thought in the United States, while paying close attention to various ideologies, pivotal historical moments and major debates shaping the course of African-American political life.
Credit 3 units. Arch: NSM
L90 AFAS 4511 Race, Ethnicity and Culture: Qualitative Inquiries into Urban Education I
Drawing on traditional and recent advances in the field of qualitative studies, this course is the first in a series to examine ethnographic research at the interlocking domains of race, ethnicity, class, gender and culture. The emphasis in this course is on how these concepts are constructed in urban educational institutions. The course includes a field component that involves local elementary and/or middle schools.
L90 AFAS 4512 Race, Ethnicity and Culture: Qualitative Inquiries into Urban Education II
This course is the second of two to examine ethnographic research at the intersecting and overlapping points of race, ethnicity, class, gender and culture. The emphasis in this course is on developing methodology that is consistent with critically grounded, socially responsible, culturally responsive and humane research projects and programs. Secondary English education majors are required to take fall semester during the year in which student teaching is done. Prerequisites: AFAS/Educ 4511 and/or permission of the instructor.
Same as L12 Educ 4512
L90 AFAS 4601 Topics in African-American Studies: Health in the Black Community: A Social Science Perspective
Health matters for every facet of social life. In this course, we use a critical sociological perspective to explore the dynamic nature of health and health care experiences among blacks in the United States. We draw upon core concepts in Sociology, the Sociology of Health, Illness, and Care as well as Critical Race Theory and Social Epidemiology to guide our discussions throughout the semester. Using contemporary, real-world examples, we examine the causes and consequences of racial health disparities that too often situate blacks in positions of disadvantage. We use the work of scholars such as Patricia Hill Collins, David Williams, and Dorothy Roberts to explore topics ranging from racism in the health care system to the black immigrant health advantage to health and hip-hop. We consider how poor health and health care outcomes among blacks in the United States matter on a global scale. Throughout the course, we consider practical policy and programmatic interventions that can be implemented to eliminate poor health in black communities.
L90 AFAS 4608 Education of Black Children and Youth in the United States
This course provides an overview of the education of black children and youth in the United States. Covering both pre- and post-Brown eras, this course applies a deep reading to the classic works of DuBois and Anderson as well as the more recent works of Kozol, Delpit and Foster. The social, political and historical contexts of education, as essential aspects of American and African-American culture and life, are placed in the foreground of course inquiries.
Same as L12 Educ 4608
L90 AFAS 461B Construction and Experience of Black Adolescence
This course examines the construct of black adolescence from the general perspectives of anthropology, sociology and psychology. It begins by studying the construct of black adolescence as an “invention” of the social and behavioral sciences. The course then draws upon narrative data, autobiography, literature and multimedia sources authored by black youth to recast black adolescence as a complex social, psychological, cultural and political phenomenon. This course focuses on the meaning-making experiences of urban-dwelling black adolescents and highlights these relations within the contexts of class, gender, sexuality and education.
L90 AFAS 4755 Queering Sexual Cultures in Africa and the Diaspora
This course examines gender and sexuality in contemporary Africa and the diaspora. We will focus specifically on queerness as a category of analysis and will examine queer identities, practices, communities and cultures in Africa and the African diaspora. In recent years, many African countries have adopted harsh anti-homosexuality laws and much of the political and popular discourse frames expressions of same-sex desire as "un-African.'' However, there is a long history of non-normative sexualities in Africa, challenging the manner in which the continent is constructed as heterosexual by both local and global forces. Similarly, black communities across the African diaspora have relied on the regulation of gender and sexuality to demarcate the boundaries of blackness, and have traditionally sought belongingness to the nation through compulsory heterosexuality. Many scholars, artists and activists in the African diaspora continue to critique parochial definitions of Africanness and Blackness that rely on the exclusion of queer subjects. By drawing on historical, theoretical and visual texts, we will examine the debates concerning sexuality, citizenship and human rights on the African continent and the diaspora as well as their relationship to global issues around sexual citizenship and human rights. By focusing on the lived experiences of LGBTQ subjects in the African diaspora, we will interrogate the contested relationship between sexuality and politics. This reading-intensive, interdisciplinary course will familiarize students with the debates and issues of Queer African Studies, Black Queer Studies, and Black and African Feminist Thought.
L90 AFAS 4851 Prisons, Politics and Activism
Prison reformers argue that de-criminalizing nonviolent offenses will be enough to reduce mass incarceration, while prison abolitionists argue that we need to dismantle the entire carceral state in the U.S., which is maintained by a racially stratified system of public schooling, housing, employment and health care. What is at stake in these debates? Are we seeking to promote basic humanity, racial and gender equality or utopian visions of rehabilitation? This course seeks to historically contextualize prison reform and abolitionism from the 13th Amendment's re-articulation of slavery to current resistance to mass incarceration. Special attention will be paid to the intersections between the prisoner's rights movement and the Black & Brown Power, feminist, queer and disability movements.
Same as L22 History 4851
L90 AFAS 4881 Advanced Seminar: Mad: Mental Illness, Power and Resistance in Africa and the Caribbean
This seminar explores the history of mental illness in Africa and the Caribbean during the colonial and postcolonial periods. We will be guided by the following questions: What is mental illness? How do social, cultural and political realities affect how mental illness is defined? Should mental illness always be analyzed within a specific cultural context? How did psychiatry factor into the efforts of European colonizers to maintain social order in their colonies? How have colonized people resisted colonial notions of madness? What is the place of religion in these histories? How did mental institutions change after the end of colonial rule and how was postcolonial Caribbean and African psychiatry harnessed in service of decolonization? The course will pay special attention to how European colonial powers employed similar understandings of blackness across regions as they formulated ideas concerning the black populations they deemed "mad" across Africa and the Caribbean.
Same as L22 History 4881
L90 AFAS 4930 Advanced Seminar: Slavery in America: The Politics of Knowledge Production
This course focuses on the long history of black chattel slavery in America, from origins to emancipation. The course foregrounds the struggles over power, life and death, that were at the heart of slavery's traumatic and grotesquely violent 250-year career in North America, with attention to hemispheric context. At the same time, it highlights the fiercely contested historical battleground where scholars have argued about how to define American slavery — as a system or site of labor, reproduction, law, property and dispossession, racial and gender domination, sexual abuse and usurpation, psychological terror and interdependency, containment and marooning, selfhood and nationality, agency, revolutionary liberation and millennial redemption.
Same as L22 History 49SA
L90 AFAS 4973 Advanced Seminar: Gender, Race and Class in South Africa, 1880-present
By focusing on the complex historical dynamics of race, gender and class in South Africa over the past 120 years, this course is aimed at understanding the development of segregation, apartheid, and racial capitalism, as well as the emergence of multiple forms of resistance to counter white minority rule. Topics include: white settler expansion and the defeat of the African peasantry; the rise of mining capital and the emergence of a racially divided working class; the origins of African and Afrikaner nationalisms; migrant labor and the subordination of African women; and the prospects for a non-racial, non-sexist democracy in a unified South Africa.
Same as L22 History 4979
L90 AFAS 4977 Advanced Seminar: A Long Road to Uhuru and Nation: The Social History of Modern Kenya
This seminar challenges the popular western view that the African continent is a single place and that Africans are homogenous or inherently tribal. Focusing on the lived experiences of imperial rule, the struggle for independence, and the process of nation building, it explores the development of an African country. The seminar focuses on how common men, women and adolescents wrestled with the problem of turning a colony into the modern Kenyan nation. Admission to the seminar requires permission of the instructor and at least one previous upper-level course in African history.
L90 AFAS 498 Fieldwork in African-American Studies
A fieldwork project carried out under the direction of an instructor in the African and African-American Studies program. Prerequisites: permission of instructor and the director of African and African-American Studies prior to enrollment. Contact program office for forms.
Credit variable, maximum 6 units. EN: S
L90 AFAS 4984 The Problem of Freedom: The Age of Democratic Revolutions in the Americas, 1760-1888
Ever since the improbable alliance of the English pirate and slave trader Sir Francis Drake and the fugitive slave Cimarrons on the Atlantic coast of Panama many centuries ago, the history of freedom in the New World has unfolded in unlikely fits and starts. The course will explore two related conjectures: first, that maroon politics (the often short-lived alliances between slaves, quasi-free blacks and white allies), slave rebellion, provincial secession and civil war were the widespread and normative conditions of post-colonial regimes throughout the New World; and second, that the problem of freedom was especially challenging in a New World environment in which freedom was fleeting and tended to decompose. Special attention will be given to antislavery insurgencies, interracial politics and alliances in the Unites States and the perspectives on freedom they produced, but the readings will also include materials on debates over freedom in the Caribbean and South America over the course of the long age of democratic revolution, 1760-1888.
Same as L22 History 4984
L90 AFAS 499 Independent Work for Senior Honors: Research
Prerequisite: permission of director and appropriate grade point average. Application forms available in program office.
Credit 3 units.
L90 AFAS 4991 Independent Work for Senior Honors: Thesis
Prerequisite: satisfactory standing as a candidate for senior honors and permission of the director of the African and African-American Studies program.
Credit 3 units.
L90 AFAS 49TP Advanced Seminar: Whose Nairobi?: Opportunity and Inequality in a 20th-Century African City
Visitors to East Africa often hear the cautionary refrain, "Nairobi is not Kenya." But over the past century, Kenya's largest city has meant distinctly different things to distinctly different people. Starting as a simple railway camp in the late 19th century, and shaped by decades of colonial racial and ethnic segregation, it has grown into a global "mega-city," where Kenyans from every background and every corner of the country interact with an equally diverse cast of foreigners. Focusing on the realities of the day-to-day, this research seminar deploys a wide variety of historical evidence to better understand how ordinary people experienced, and were shaped by, Nairobi during the long and turbulent 20th century. This seminar's centerpiece is an extensive and original research paper that offers students the opportunity to work a wide variety of primary sources including archives, city planning reports, maps, images of the built environment, music, material culture, memoirs and narrative fiction.
Same as L22 History 49TP
Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters
PhD, Cornell University
J.H. Hexter Professor in the Humanities
PhD, Northwestern University
Margaret Bush Wilson Professor in Arts & Sciences
PhD, University of Pennsylvania
PhD, Johns Hopkins University
PhD, University of Michigan
Carol Camp Yeakey
PhD, Northwestern University
PhD, Harvard University
J. Dillon Brown
PhD, University of Pennsylvania
PhD, The Claremont Graduate School
William J. Maxwell
PhD, Duke University
Jeffrey Q. McCune Jr.
PhD, Northwestern University
(African-American Studies and Gender Studies)
PhD, Yale University
PhD, University of Massachusetts
PhD, Michigan State University
Henry Hampton Jr. Distinguished Artist-in-Residence
BA, Washington University
MLS, University of Michigan
PhD, Michigan State University
PhD, Stanford University
El Hadji Samba Amadou Diallo
PhD, School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences - Paris
(History & Anthropology)