AFCNA-141 Introduction to Modern African History
This course provides an introduction to African history over the past three centuries. Venturing beyond the stereotypes, we will explore the complex histories that constitute a diverse continent. Special attention is given to spotlighting the voices of African people through a range of primary and secondary sources, including memoirs, film, music, cartoons, speeches and photography. Students will gain knowledge of African geographies and histories, develop the skill of primary source analysis, and be able to connect events in -- and narratives of -- present-day Africa to a deeper historical past.
AFCNA-142 Introduction to Pre-colonial African History
This course surveys the social, political and economic history of Africa from earliest times to 1750. We will consider developments in early significant units of the continent such as Ethiopia, Kush, Zimbabwe, and Egypt. We will focus on themes such as human origins, agriculture, migration, Islam, gender, slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. By the end of the course, students will have a sound understanding of key developments in African history from ancient times to the eve of European expansion in Africa.
AFCNA-181 Introduction to African Diaspora Religions
Over the last century, religionists have labored to discover the meaning of African dispersal beyond the continent and its accompanying spiritual lineages. What theories of encounter sufficiently adjudicate the synthetic religious cultures of African-descended persons in North America, South America, and the Caribbean? What are the cross-disciplinary methodologies that scholars utilize to understand African religious cultures in the Western hemisphere? Firstly, this course will introduce the field of Africana religious studies. This background will inform the second and primary objective of the course: thematizing and exploring West and Central African religious traditions housed in the Americas.
AFCNA-200 Foundations of Africana Studies
This reading- and writing-intensive course draws upon the intellectual traditions of African American, African, and African diasporic studies in order to explore the connections and disjunctures among people of African descent. While the course pays attention to national, regional, and historical contexts, it asks this question: what do African descended people have in common and when and how are their experiences and interests different? What can we glean from contemporary discourses grounded in the consideration of global black lives?
AFCNA-208 Introduction to Twentieth-Century Critical Race Theory
This course examines the discursive relationship between race, power and law in contemporary U.S. society. Readings examine the ways in which racial bodies are constituted in the cultural economy of American society where citizens of African descent dwell. We explore the rules and social practices that govern the relationship of race to gender, nationality, sexuality, and class in U.S. courts and other cultural institutions. Thinkers covered include W.E.B. DuBois, Kimberle Crenshaw, Derrick Bell, and Richard Delgado, among others.
AFCNA-221 Engaging Ghana: Inquiry and Action
This course prepares students to pursue curated internships in Ghana. It provides the historical, social, economic, political and cultural context crucial for powerful student learning experiences and ethical engagement with Ghanaian organizations and communities. Guest lectures, readings, and class discussion will provide an intellectual orientation to the country, as well as contextualize student work in curated internships across a range of fields and sites. The course begins a journey of reflection on personal and internship organizations goals that will continue when instructor and students are on site in Ghana in the summer.
AFCNA-234 Black Metropolis: From MLK to Obama
Black Metropolis" refers to the more than half a million black people jammed into a South Side ghetto in Chicago at mid-twentieth century that featured an entrenched black political machine, a prosperous black middle class, and a thriving black cultural scene in the midst of massive poverty and systemic inequality. This course will follow the political, economic, and cultural developments of what scholars considered to be the typical urban community in postwar United States. We will examine such topics as Martin Luther King's failed desegregation campaign; Harold Washington, first black mayor; William Julius Wilson's urban underclass thesis; and the rise of Barack Obama.
AFCNA-241 Topics in Africana Studies
AFCNA-241BA Topics in Africana Studies: 'Black Atlantic Diasporas: Departures, Travels, and Arrivals'
We explore modern encounters of African-Americans and Afro-Europeans in the spaces and peripheries of the Black Atlantic, as the spaces constitute diasporic practices. Diasporic Blackness serves as a critique of and community-based resistance to global anti-Blackness, largely in response to Europe's colonial and imperial activities. Our materials frame anti-Blackness as a source of trauma, travel, and resistance, where each of these is a vital part of an emancipatory movement. We include textual and visual materials that examine the consequences of representations of past, present, and future Black freedom dreams and their lived effects. How is diasporic Blackness constituted through time and space? How does the critique of Black-white binarist thought compel a rethinking of controlling narratives of race as nation? What about encounters with other racialized folks?
AFCNA-241EN Topics in Africana Studies: 'The Early African American Novel'
This course tracks the beginnings of the African American novelistic tradition in the nineteenth century. The early African American novel had to contend with a number of other literary forms within its political and cultural context such as the slave narrative with its central claim to truth. We will consider: What is specific to the form of the novel? How does it differentiate itself from and even include other forms of writing and literature? What are the politics of the early African American novel in the era of slavery and abolition? We will examine how early novels by Black Americans imagine more emancipatory futures while also critiquing the unfreedom of the nineteenth century.
AFCNA-241EU Topics in Africana Studies: 'European Expansion in Africa'
Between the 1870s and 1910s, Africa was conquered by and divided among European powers. Why were European powers interested in informal and formal control of Africa? Why were they in competition with one another? How did Africans respond to European conquest and rule? What were the impacts of colonial rule in Africa? This course answers these and many other questions. The course is divided into two phases. The first focuses on the activities of the European powers in the late nineteenth century. The second examines the post-conquest period and examines African responses to the European conquests and rules in the early twentieth century.
AFCNA-241HS Topics in Africana Studies: 'African American History, Precolonial to Emancipation'
This course will examine the cultural, social, political, and economic history of African Americans through the Civil War. Topics covered include the African background to the African American experience, the Atlantic slave trade, introduction and development of slavery, master-slave relationships, the establishment of black communities, slave revolts, the political economy of slavery, women in slavery, the experiences of free blacks, the crisis of the nineteenth century, and the effect of the Civil War.
AFCNA-241PE Topics in Africana Studies: 'African Performance Aesthetics'
This class explores African approaches to performance, premised on the interdisciplinarity of theatre in many African societies. We take our inspiration from centuries of apprentice-style artist training in some indigenous West African societies. The evolution of oral and popular performance traditions into literary theatre has also necessitated a similar trend in the training of the modern actor. The primary object of this class is to be able to embody a plethora of idiomatic expressions. Thus, we will move to the energy of the drums, we will train the ears to transmit the complex musicality of several sonic elements and raise our voices in song and apply them in scene explorations. Ultimately, we intend to unlock new ways of using our minds, bodies, and voices as conduits of exciting storytelling.
AFCNA-241PT Topics in Africana Studies: 'Introduction to Poetry of the African Diaspora'
What is African poetry and how has it evolved over time from oral to written literature? In this course, we will read and respond creatively and critically to poetry by people of the African diaspora with a focus on people with ties to the Sub-Saharan region. We will explore both oral and written poetry as well as themes of identity, nationhood, and spirituality. By the end of the semester, students will create a chapbook with (20-30) poems and will be encouraged to submit their poems to journals for publication.
AFCNA-241SV Topics in Africana Studies: 'Slavery and Emancipation in Africa'
Slavery and emancipation is a broad theme in the history of the modern world. The study of this theme has usually been centered on the Atlantic world and the focus has always been on the enslavement of Africans in the Americas. Yet, slavery was a global phenomenon. Slavery has been one of the most common historical settings in all regions of the world. This course focuses on Africa and examines the meanings and nature of slavery, methods of enslavement, slave use in Africa, internal and external slave trades, the place of women, slave resistance, abolition, and the persistence of slavery in Africa during the colonial rule. We will compare slavery in Africa and other regions of the World.
AFCNA-241TR Topics in Africana Studies: 'The Early African American Novel'
The course examines horror and comedy as genre conventions that become strained and distorted when bent to the demands of black critical expression This course will center on themes of life and death as they are framed in black film and literature through idioms of the absurd and the ghastly. We will encounter film and writing by Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, Chester Himes, Toni Morrison, Danielle Fuentes Morgan, Bill Gunn, Donald Glover. Students will learn how to close-read our media-saturated environment, thinking through the ways in which representation functions to condition our perception of enjoyment and terror.
AFCNA-246 Womanist Religious Thought
As a conceptual framework which reconsiders the rituals, scriptures, and allegiances of religious black women, womanist thought has expanded the interdisciplinary canon of black and feminist religious studies. This course is a survey of womanist religious scholars from multiple religious traditions: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Yoruba-Ifa -- as well as theorists who understand womanism as a "spiritual but not religious" orientation. Course participants will use the interpretive touchstones of cross-culturalism, erotics, earthcare, and health -- among others -- to examine contemporary womanist religious thought.
AFCNA-251 Contemporary African American Literature II
This course will examine African American literature and culture in the postwar period as American identities are coalescing around the concept of the US as a world power. Specifically, our task during the semester will be to discuss the myriad ways black authors and artists attempt to interrogate the structure of racial hegemony by creating poetry and prose meant to expand notions of culture and form. We will also examine music, visual art, and advertisements from this era to have a greater sense of the black experience through various cultural representations. Writers will include James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, Michael S. Harper and bell hooks.
AFCNA-257 African American Literature
This course surveys Black literary production with special attention to the idea of genre as a choice of form made by Black writers from the antebellum era through the present to communicate critique, effect political change, and render new worlds. Structured around debates about the genre status of Black writing, this course introduces students to slave era texts by Harriet E. Wilson, David Walker, Phillis Wheatley; 20th century works by Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Amos Tutuola, Chester Himes, Bill Gunn, James Baldwin, Toni Cade Bambara; and contemporary work by Saidiya Hartman, Octavia Butler, Jeremy O. Harris, and Rita Dove. Reading, writing, and critical viewership will be central to the course.
AFCNA-282 African American History from Emancipation to the Present
This course will examine the social, cultural, political, and economic history of African Americans from emancipation and Reconstruction through the present. Emphasis will fall on postwar southern social and economic developments, the rise of segregation, northern migrations, black class stratification, nationalism, the twentieth-century civil rights movement, and current trends in African American political, social, and economic life.
AFCNA-295 Independent Study
AFCNA-308 Luminous Darkness: African American Social Thought After DuBois
Examines the life, work, and legacies of WEB DuBois. Drawing on domestic and diasporic fictional and nonfictional meditations on black life and progress in and beyond the 'DuBoisian century,' the course considers the changing meanings of and movements for global racial justice for people of African descent. The course also confronts the globalization of the color line in the post-Civil Rights/Black Power era. Due to increasing precarity for the masses, emphasis is given to more recent ideas like afro-pessimism, racial capitalism, and afro-futurism, as contemporary responses to DuBois's 1903 question, 'How does it feel to be a problem?' Readings by Jemisin, Gyasi, Robinson, Fields, Butler, Davis, Ransby, Hartman, Wilderson, Fanon, YamahttaTaylor, among others form the core of the course.
AFCNA-341 Topics in Africana Studies
AFCNA-341AE Topics in Africana Studies: 'Race, Gender and Sexual Aesthetics in the Global Era' Justice'
Reading across a spectrum of disciplinary focuses (e.g. philosophies of aesthetics, post-structural feminisms, Black cultural studies, and queer of color critique) this course asks the question what is the nature of aesthetics when it negotiates modes of difference? This course explores the history and debates on aesthetics as it relates to race, gender, and sexuality with particular emphasis on Black diaspora theory and cultural production. Drawing on sensation, exhibitions, active discussion, observation, and experimentation, emphasis will be placed on developing a fine-tuned approach to aesthetic inquiry and appreciation.
AFCNA-341AF Topics in Africana Studies: 'African American Spiritualities of Dissent'
This course seeks to understand how protest fuels the creation and sustenance of black religious movements and novel spiritual systems in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We will examine the dissentive qualities of selected African American activists, community workers, scholars, spiritual/religious leaders and creative writers. By the end of this course, students will be able to thoughtfully respond to the questions, "What is spirituality?"; "What is dissent?"; and "Has blackness required resistive spiritual communities?
AFCNA-341AT Topics in Africana Studies: 'African Theater'
This course introduces the oral traditions, important playwrights, and aesthetic innovations in postcolonial literary theatre in some African societies. The oral theatre traditions of Africa are an example of the innate human quest to perform and will eventually be the basis for understanding some of the innovations made in African literary theatre. We shall also focus on writings by African writers and writers of African descent who deal with the post-colonial conditions of Black Africa and the African Diaspora. This class is designed to serve as a window into the continent of Africa: its people, its ideas, triumphs, struggles, and the complex histories emerging from its vastness and diversity.
AFCNA-341DC Topics in Africana Studies: 'Decolonization and the Civil Rights Movement'
This course explores pan-African collaborations between the continental Africans and the African Diaspora during the age of decolonization and the Civil Rights Movement. It examines key developments in the global black movement with a focus on (de)segregation, the Civil Rights Movement, decolonization, and the Black Power Movement. Through readings and discussions, students who complete this course will come to understand the contributions of continental Africans to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and the responses of the African Diaspora to social, political, and economic conditions in post-colonial Africa.
AFCNA-341DE Topics in Africana Studies: 'Development in Africa: A Critical History'
How and why has Africa become synonymous with "development"? This class traces the historical construction of an idea so pervasive that it has become almost invisible. Moving through 200 years of history, we interrogate the ways that different projects for "developing" Africa have been envisioned, challenged, planned, implemented and lived. Throughout, we return to key questions. Why and how have the lives of African people become entangled with various ideologies of "progress"? What visions of African "development" have been articulated-in the West, in the African diaspora, on the continent itself? And, fundamentally, is "development" still a useful concept today?
AFCNA-341EM Topics in Africana Studies: 'The Age of Emancipation'
This colloquium examines the causes and the course of the Civil War, its social, economic, and political results during Reconstruction, and the early roots of both de jure segregation and the civil rights movement. It will examine the process of emancipation from the perspective of social history. Violent conflicts over free labor, the establishment of sharecropping, and the political and economic policies pursued by various groups--freedpeople, ex-masters, northern policymakers, wage laborers, and African American women, for example--will be covered. African American viewpoints and histories will receive particular emphasis.
AFCNA-341MT Topics in Africana Studies: 'Bodies of Thought: Metaphors of Embodiment in Black Literature'
This course tracks uses of the body as a metaphor in literature by black writers in the 20th and 21st centuries. Thinking about the body as a conceptual unit that refers to a broad range of configurations -- the physical body, the national body, bodies of knowledge, and so on -- this course will ask students to think about the limits and potentials of the body as form when it is marshaled by black writers toward a range of political, social, and aesthetic projects. We will read texts by Frantz Fanon, James Hannaham, Jesmyn Ward, Octavia Butler, Jamaica Kincaid, and others.
AFCNA-341RB Topics in Africana Studies: 'Postcolonial Literatures of Anglophone Africa and South Asia'
This course brings together literatures from Anglophone South Asia and Africa to explore how belonging to the nation is complicated by realities of marginalization and displacement. Postcolonial histories demonstrate tensions between the ideological aspirations of the nation as home and the reality of internal conflicts and wars that expose the limits of belonging. Texts include novels, literary criticism, and critical theory on internal displacement and refugees, the gendered and ethnic minorities, the political other, and trauma. We will read Chinelo Okparanta's Under the Udala Tree, Bapsi Sidhwa's Cracking India, Michael Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost, and Tsitsi Dangarembga's The Book of Not.
AFCNA-341SE Topics in Africana Studies: 'Black Sexual Economies'
At once viewed as a dysfunction of normative ideas about sexuality, the family, and the nation, Black sexualities are intimately linked to and regulated by political and socioeconomic discourses. Slavery studies scholars remind us of how it has proven foundational for modern notions of race and sex by making explicit links between labor and exploitation. Thus, this course moves through themes such as slavery historicity, intersections between Black feminisms and Black sexualities, sexual labor/work, pleasure, and the erotic, in order to consider the stakes of our current critical approaches to Black sexual economies and interrogate its silences and possibilities.
AFCNA-341TM Topics in Africana Studies: 'Toni Morrison'
This course will examine the work and the centralized black world of the last American Nobel laureate in literature, Toni Morrison. Morrison is the author of eleven novels and multiple other works, including nonfiction and criticism. In a career that has spanned over forty years and has informed countless artists and writers, Morrison's expansive cultural reach can hardly be measured accurately. In this course we will endeavor to critically analyze the arc and the import of many of Morrison's writings. Readings include: The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Jazz, Playing in the Dark, Paradise, and A Mercy.
AFCNA-341WM Topics in Africana Studies: 'The African/American Woman in Literature'
This course surveys historical representations of Black female subjects in the literature of the African Diaspora. We will read The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat, Efuru by Flora Nwapa, and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi as well as a curated list of short stories. Discussions will center on the changing notions of values for these women as a result of their geographical location: how does space/relationship to land shape African/American women's identities? Students will also compose critical reflections and a final creative project which may include an art collection, documentary, short story, or a series of blog posts.
AFCNA-349CB Topics in Africana Studies: 'Contemporary Black Memoir'
This course traces the formation of the Black public intellectual in the internet age. All memoirs read in this class have been published within the last decade, and include works by luminaries such as Kiese Laymon, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Roxane Gay, Hari Ziyad, and Da'Shaun Harrison. Students will examine the elasticity of memoir as a category, and assignments will compare and contrast authors' online personas to their published work.
AFCNA-361 The Aquatic Life of Black Devotion
Water informs religious and spiritual worldviews the world over; commonplace rituals from baptism to libation underwrite its prescience. The religious cultures of West and Central Africa, along with its multiple diasporas, theorize, encounter, and engage water centrally. Seminar participants will dive deeply into the water-based epistemologies of African and African diaspora religions, probing liturgical language, ritual performance and spiritual entities for aquatic common threads. Seminar participants will analyze the historical realities that have made water such a contested yet indispensable feature of black religious life.
From its counterhegemonic beginning as a nexus of Garveyism, Ethiopianism, and Pan-Africanism, Rastafari has shifted from a Caribbean theological movement to a new religious and socio-political movement globally. What were the epistemological tenets that enabled Rastafari to boast such a multi-sited diaspora? What was the role of reggae music in spreading the religious culture? How have women negotiated their roles within its textured prescriptions? Seminar participants will explore these questions, among others. Beyond understanding the diverse beliefs and practices of global Rastafari, seminar participants will consider some of the enduring motifs of black, dissentive religions as iterated through Rastafari.
AFCNA-395 Independent Study