Home > Undergraduate > 2012 SPRING UNDERGRADUATE COURSES
AFAS C1001 Section 001 / Call # 76047
Introduction to African-American Studies
Tuesday & Thursdays: 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Instructor: Josef Sorett
From the arrival of enslaved Africans to the recent election of President Barack Obama, black people have been central the story of the United States, and the Americas, more broadly. African Americans have been both contributors to, and victims of, this “New World” democratic experiment. To capture the complexities of this ongoing saga, this course offers an inter-disciplinary exploration of the development of African American cultural and political life in the U.S., but also in relationship to the different African diasporic outposts of the Atlantic world. The course will be organized both chronologically and thematically, moving from the “middle passage” to the present so-called “post-racial” moment—drawing on a range of classical texts, primary sources, and more recent secondary literature—to grapple with key questions, concerns and problems (i.e. agency, resistance, culture, structure, etc.) that have preoccupied scholars of African American history, culture and politics.
Students will be introduced to range of disciplinary methods and theoretical approaches (spanning the humanities and social sciences), while also attending to the critical tension between intellectual work and everyday life, which are central to the formation of African-American Studies as an academic field. This course will engage specific social formations (i.e. migration, urbanization, globalization, diaspora, etc), significant cultural/political developments (i.e. uplift ideologies, nationalism, feminism, pan-Africanism, religion/spirituality, etc), and hallmark moments/movements (i.e. Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights movement, Black Power, etc). By the end of the semester students will be expected to possess a working knowledge of major themes/figures/traditions, alongside a range of cultural/political practices and institutional arrangements, in African American Studies.

AFAS W3030 Section 001 / Call # 81552
African-American Music
Monday & Wednesday:  2:40pm - 3:55pm
Instructor:  Kevin Fellezs
This course focuses on a central question: how do we define “African American music”? In attempting to answer this question, we will be thinking through concepts such as authenticity, representation, recognition, cultural ownership, appropriation, and origin(s). These concepts have structured the ways in which critics, musicians and audiences have addressed the various social, political and aesthetic contexts in which African American music has been composed (produced), performed (re-produced) and heard (consumed). In exploring the diversity of African American musical expression, we will question our assumptions about race, about music, and the links between the two. By taking a largely historical approach, we will see how African American music has both shaped and been shaped by the social contexts in which it is created and performed. Our readings and discussions will encompass African American music from spirituals and work songs to bebop and hip hop, from Duke Ellington to N.W.A., from Bessie Smith to Stevie Wonder, from James Reese Europe to Bob Marley, all of which will help us explore the rich set of meanings black music has held in the Americas for over four hundred years.

AFAS  C3930 Section 001 / Call # 12537
Topics in the Black Experience:  African American Photographic Cultures
Wednesday:  2:00pm - 4:00 pm
Instructor:  Zoe Trodd
This undergraduate seminar explores the politics of representation in African American photography. We will examine a diverse range of visual “texts,” including daguerreotypes, collages, installations, photo-essays, image-text collaborations, and multiple traditions, including social documentary, protest, street photography, photo-journalism, modernism and portraiture. Throughout the semester we will discuss the relationship of photography to some central themes in black culture and creative expression, including confined space, invisibility vs. visibility, heroism, and historical “truth.” We will set photographs in their historical context, discussing slavery, lynching, migration, segregation and poverty. Engaging the debates surrounding representation and race, we will consider to what extent photography has subverted racial identities and social hierarchies, attacked caricatures and stereotypes, furthered protest movements, and dismantled the master’s house with the master’s tools. The course will include a class trip to a photography exhibition.

Cross listed undergraduate courses available to AFAM majors and minors:
Art History   W4855 section 001:  Call # 16396
African-American Artists in the 20th & 21st Century
Monday & Wenesday: 11:00am - 12:15pm
Instructor:  Kellie Jones
Cross Listed Department:  Art History
This course is a survey of visual production by North Americans of African descent from 1900 to the present. It will look at the various ways in which these artists have sought to develop an African American presence in the visual arts over the last century. We will discuss such issues as: what role does stylistic concern play; how are ideas of romanticism, modernism, and formalism incorporated into the work; in what ways do issues of postmodernism, feminism, and cultural nationalism impact on the methods used to portray the cultural and political body that is African America?

English W3401 Section 001 / Call #: 26030
African American Literature II - Surrender to the Air:  Twentieth-Century African American Literature
Tuesday & Thursday:  4:10pm - 5:25pm 
Instructor:   Marcellus Blount 
Cross Listed Department:  English
This survey of African American literature from 1940 to the present focuses on language, history, and culture.  What are the contours of African American literary history?  How do race, gender, class, and sexuality intersect within the politics of African American culture?  What can we expect to learn from these literary works?  Why does literature matter to students of social change?  This lecture course will attempt to provide answers to these questions, as we begin with Richard Wright's Native Son (1940) and end with Melvin Dixon's Love's Instruments (1995) with many stops along the way.  We will discuss poetry, fiction, drama, and non-fictional prose.  Other authors include Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Malcolm X, Ntozake Shange, Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison.  There are no prerequisites for this course, including African American Literature, I.  Two five page essays and a final examination.  See Course Works for syllabus and course books.

English W3934 Section 001 / Call # 88347
Harlem Renaissance in Literature, Music & Art
Tuesday & Thursday:  10:35am - 11:50am 
Instructor:   Robert G. O'Meally
Cross Listed Department:  English
The novelist Ralph Ellison called the Harlem Renaissance “a sophisticated moment” when black Americans had survived the shocks of slavery and the disappointments of Reconstruction sufficiently to think of leadership on a very broad scale.  Ellison referred to black political leadership, in the United States and abroad. But like Alain Locke and many of the founders of the Harlem Renaissance, he also stressed the importance of leadership across the spectra of the arts: in literature, music, and the visual arts. This course will focus on the arts of the Harlem Renaissance as experiments in cultural modernity and as forms of incipient political empowerment.
What was the Harlem Renaissance? Where and when did it take place? Who were its major players? What difference did it make to everyday Harlemites? What were its outposts beyond Harlem itself? Was there a rural HR? An international HR? As we wonder about these problems of definition, we will upset the usual literary/historical framework with considerations of music and painting of the period. How to fit Bessie Smith into a frame with W.E.B. Du Bois? Ellington with Zora Neale Hurston? Aaron Douglas with Langston Hughes?
Ellison also wrote that “Harlem is Nowhere.” (There is an important new book by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts that borrows Ellison’s title.) Where is Harlem today? Does it survive as more than a memory, a trace? How does it function in “our” “national”/(international?) imagination? Has the Harlem Renaissance’s moment ended come and gone? What continuities might we detect? What institutions from the early twentieth century have endured?

Political Science:  W3922 section 002 / Call # 60279
American Politics Seminar:  African-American Politics
Wednesday:  2:10pm - 4:00pm
Instructor:  Fredrick Harris
Cross Listed Department:  Political Science
The course considers the struggle of African Americans for inclusion in the American political system.  Primary topics will include the historical development of black activism, the role of black leadership, the transformation from protest to mainstream politics since the civil rights movement, and the consequences of blacks' incorporation into the channels of mainstream political institutions.

Political Science  W3922 section 004 / Call # 72096
Community Organizing and American Politics
Thursday:  2:10pm - 4:00pm
Instructor:  Dorian T. Warren
Cross Listed Department: Political Science
With the election of Barack Obama as President in November 2008, Americans also voted for the first-ever "Community-Organizer-in-Chief". "Community organizing"—as a vocation, philosophy, strategy, technique and set of tactics for social change—has been both praised and vilified in the media and popular culture. 
This course examines the theory, art and practice of community organizing in American politics. We begin with a brief introduction and overview of community organizing, and then examine what community organizing purports to be a solution to: contemporary political, economic, racial and gender inequalities in American society. Next, we take up the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of community organizing (democratic participation and social justice), followed by examining the contemporary empirical research on unequal power and participation in the political system. Starting with Saul Alinsky, we turn to the roots of modern community organizing in the early 20th century. We then take a critical look at different "models" of community organizing, from secular to faith-based, and examine how and under what conditions they are able to bridge differences across race, ethnicity, gender, class, geography and religion.