Introduces the history, culture, and politics of people of African descent in inside and outside the United States.
This course studies African American culture and politics. Rather than study African American history as a story of endless progression—from enslavement to equality—this class adopts a more nuanced approach. We will examine the ways freedom and oppression, dreams and nightmares, coexist throughout African American life and history. Indeed, this class adopts the approach that the object of African American Studies is this simultaneous engagement with freedom and oppression. We will explore this tension across a variety of cultural, historical, and thematic sites. By the end of the quarter, students should be able to identify core concepts in African American studies and apply them across a variety of settings.
Student learning goals
Think in a critical and expansive manner about African American culture and politics throughout U.S. history and present
Understand race in the context of gender, sexuality, class, and democracy
Locate African American history in relation to both dominant American institutions and other racial and ethnic groups
Develop a firm grounding of how historical processes connect to current-day realities of African Americans
Enhance critical thinking, research, and writing skills through a variety of assignments and in-class projects
General method of instruction
This class combines a variety of instructional means: lecture, small-group discussion, individual and group presentations and assignments, self-reflection, engagement with a wide array of historical artifacts (textual, visual, auditory), and attention to common themes across time and space.
This is an introduction course without prerequisites or necessary background other than an eagerness to learn. Students who need help with some writing basics are encouraged to supplement course learning with university services and books on grammar and punctuation. Because histories of race are histories of both violence and freedom, students are asked to come to class ready to engage a wide range of historical and current-day themes and concepts—including some difficult ones.
Class assignments and grading
The assignments in this class are all designed to build on each other and help students integrate the learning goals. The assignments will include course contribution (in-class discussions and presentations), reading analyses/responses, and a mini-research project.