This course introduces students to the field of African American Studies through an examination of the complex experiences, both past and present, of Americans of African descent. Through a multidisciplinary perspective, it reveals the complicated ways we come to know and live race in the United States. Students engage classic texts in the field, all of which are framed by a concern with epistemologies of resistance and of ignorance that offer insight into African American thought and practice.
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African American Studies and the Philosophy of Race
Instructors: Eddie Glaude, Imani Perry
Introduction to Pre-20th Century Black Diaspora Art
This course focuses on the networks, the imaginaries and the lives inhabited by Black artists, makers, and subjects from the 18th through 19th centuries. It revolves around the Caribbean (particularly the Anglophone Caribbean), North America and Europe. We will reflect on how pre-twentieth century Black artists are written into history or written out of it. We will explore the aesthetic innovation of these artists and the visionary worlds they created, and examine their travels, their writings, along with the social worlds and communities they formed. The course incorporates lectures and readings and, if possible, museum visits.
Instructors: Anna Kesson
Junior Seminar: Research and Writing in African American Studies
As a required course for AAS concentrators, this junior seminar introduces students to theories and methods of research design in African American Studies. Drawing on a wide-ranging methodological toolkit from the humanities and social sciences, students will learn to reflect on the ethical and political dimensions of original research to produce knowledge that is intellectually and socially engaged. This is a writing-intensive seminar with weekly essay assignments.
Instructors: Tera Hunter, Naomi Murakawa
Topics in Global Race and Ethnicity: Scientific Racism: Then and Now
This course explores the intellectual history of scientific racism, paying close attention to how its theories influence power and institutions today. Reading primary sources from the history of science, each class will trace the reverberations of scientific racism in media, education, politics, law, and global health. Our conversations will consistently analyze the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and age in the legacies of scientific racism. We will also examine the impact of scientific racism in public discourse about the Black Lives Matter Movement and collectively brainstorm for activism towards restorative justice.
Instructors: Dannelle Gutarra Cordero
Topics in Race and Public Policy: Do Black Lives Matter in the News?
This course examines media practices in the context of Black Lives Matter, police violence, and criminal justice reform. What are the ethics of mass broadcasting videos of police murders? Who is seen as an "expert" on policing and mass incarceration? This course nests contemporary questions in historical and institutional context, beginning with nineteenth-century racial criminalization and the norms of profit-based mass media. This course is interdisciplinary, drawing on scholarship from history, media studies, social psychology, and the politics of racism, crime, and punishment.
Instructors: Naomi Murakawa
Diversity in Black America
As the demographics of Blacks in America change, we are compelled to rethink the dominant stories of who African Americans are, and from whence they come. In this seminar, we will explore the deep cultural, genealogical, national origin, regional, and class-based diversity of people of African descent in the United States. Materials for the course will include scholarly writings as well as memoirs and fiction. In addition to reading assignments, students will be expected to complete an ethnographic or oral history project based upon research conducted within a Black community in the U.S., and a music or visual art based presentation of work.
Instructors: Imani Perry
Beyond Tuskegee: Race and Human Subjects Research in US History
This course will explore the history of human subjects research as a scientific practice and how practitioners interpreted the use of living and dead bodies for producing scientific knowledge. It examines how and why certain bodies become eligible for research and experimentation. This course will show how race, class, gender, and disability shape the history of human subjects research, and show how human subjects were also deliberately selected from vulnerable populations. It will focus on the experiences of African Americans as research subjects, and consider other vulnerable populations such as children, the disabled, and the incarcerated.
Instructors: Ayah Nuriddin
Black Radical Tradition
This course surveys a genealogy of U.S. Black politics and culture in order to gain purchase on the idea of a "Black Radical Tradition." We will examine historical cases of deliberative activities, intimate life, and aesthetic choice in Black communities, orienting our discussions around the following questions: What are the stakes in defining the Black Radical Tradition? What qualifies as 'the political' for Black subjects? And, to what extent are conceptions of politics historically contingent? Students will develop inventive engagements with Black political history and learn concepts that are important to the study of race and politics.
African American Literature: Origins to 1910
This course tracks the evolution of Black literature and literary culture from the mid-18th century to the early 20th. Moving across a range of genres - from poetry to drama to fiction - and mediums - from the periodical to the bound novel - we will interrogate the relationship between literary form, aesthetics, and cultural politics, while developing a deep understanding of the emergence of an African American literary tradition.
Instructors: Autumn Womack
Migration and the Literary Imagination
This course will explore the various meanings of The Great Migration and mobility found in 20th century African American literature. Through careful historical and literary analysis, we will examine the significant impact migration has had on African American writers and the ways it has framed their literary representations of modern Black life.
Instructors: Wallace Best
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