Students are encouraged to study an African language through the SILP program (Arabic, Swahili or Xhosa) and to go on a program abroad in Africa (Sénégal or South Africa).


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The Africana Studies program enhances the educational development of students by offering courses that reflect the experience of Africa, African Americans, and the African Diaspora. The program offers an interdisciplinary major in Africana Studies and interdisciplinary minors in African Studies, Africana Studies, and African American Studies. All courses to be counted toward a major or minor must be completed with a grade of C- or higher.

interdisciplinary, 10 courses
AFS 150 Foundations of Africana Studies, AFS 180 Black Atlantic or approved substitute, eight courses in one of three concentrations (African, African American, Africana) and a 400 level seminar course or internship. Within the eight courses of the concentration, there must be at least one course exploring each of the following perspectives: historical (H), contemporary (CP), artistic/literary (AL), anthropological (A), and comparative or cross cultural (C). An independent study may substitute for the seminar if such a course is not offered.

interdisciplinary, 5 courses
An introductory course and four courses from the African concentration list. At least three different perspectives (historical, contemporary, artistic/literary, anthropological, and comparative or cross cultural) must be represented within these four courses. One perspective must be historical, the other two should be chosen in consultation with an adviser in the program.

interdisciplinary, 5 courses
An introductory course and four courses from the African American concentration list. At least three different perspectives (historical, contemporary, artistic/literary, anthropological, and comparative or cross cultural) must be represented within these four courses. One perspective must be historical, the other two should be chosen in consultation with an adviser in the program.

interdisciplinary, 5 courses
An introductory course and four courses from either the African or African American concentration lists. At least three different perspectives (historical, contemporary, artistic/literary, anthropological, and comparative or cross cultural) must be represented within these four courses. One perspective must be historical, the other two should be chosen in consultation with an adviser in the program. Students are encouraged to take as many comparative or cross cultural courses as their program permits.

Introductory Courses
AFS 150 Foundations of Africana Studies
AFS 180 Black Atlantic

African Concentration
AFS 201 South Africa: An Orientation (CP)
AFS 216 African Literature II: National Literatures of Africa (AL)
AFS 240 African, Asian and Caribbean Women's Texts (CP)
AFS 303 Post-Apartheid Identities (AL)
AFS 309 Black Cinema (AL, C, CP)
ANTH 296 African Cultures (A)
DAN/DAT 950 World Dance (AL)
FRE 352 Advanced Francophone Topics: Maghreb Literature (AL)
HIST 203 Gender in Africa (H)
HIST 283 South Africa in Transition (H, CP)
HIST 284 Africa: From Colonialism to Neocolonialism (H)
HIST 331 Law in Africa (H)
HIST 332 Slavery in Africa (H)
HIST 364 Seminar: African History (H)

African American Concentration
AFS 200 Ghettoscapes (AL, C)
AFS 225 African American Culture (AL)
AFS 309 Black Cinema (AL, C, CP)
AFS  460 Invisible Man and its Contexts (AL)
ARTH 201 African American Art (AL)
EDUC 337 Education and Racial Diversity in the U.S. (C)
ENG 290 African American Autobiography (AL)
ENG 291 Introduction to African American Literature I (AL)
ENG 318 Body, Memory, and Representation (AL)
ENG 342 Readings in Multi-Ethnic Women's Literature (AL)
FRNE 218 Island Voices: Caribbean Literature in French (AL)
HIST 227 African American History I (H)
HIST 228 African American History II: The Modern Era (H)
HIST 306 Civil War and Reconstruction: 1845-1877 (H)
POL 215 Racial and Ethnic Politics (CP)
POL 270 African American Political Thought (C)
POL 348 Racism and Hatreds (CP)
POL 259 African Politics (CP)
REL 238 Liberating Theology (C)
REL 241 Rastaman and Christ (C)
SOC 221 Sociology of Minorities (C)
WRRH 251 Black Talk/White Talk (C)

150 Foundations of Africana Studies This course provides the foundations and context for Africana Studies from an historical and contemporary perspective. It defines the geographical parameters, which include the study of Africans on the Continent and in the Diaspora (Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean). It also clarifies concepts and corrects false perceptions of Africa and Africans, with a focus on inclusiveness and diversity of both the traditional and the modern. This course is multi-disciplinary cross-cultural, taught from an African-centered perspective sensitive to race, gender, and class. Faculty members from the departments of anthropology, economics, French, history, political science and sociology participate as guest lecturers.  (Pinto, McCorkle, offered every other year)

AFS 180 The Black Atlantic: Cultures Across an Ocean The concept of the ‘Black Atlantic’ was created by Paul Gilroy to counteract the divisive forces of nationalism and race, which gives rise in people of African descent to a ‘double consciousness.’  In the Black Atlantic, we seek to understand how the conceptualization of nation—hence culture—around notions of race, creates a double consciousness and how, in spite of this, peoples of African descent have sustained cultural links that stretch across the Atlantic, uniting Africa, Europe and the Americas through shared language, religion, and music.  Starting with possible pre-Columbian voyages, through the Middle Passage to the return voyages of contemporary Americans to Africa, we chart these connections across time and space.

200 Ghettoscapes More than ever, the ghetto has come to dominate the American imagination. Mainstream media has portrayed the inner city as a place of fear and to be feared. In reaction to this view, many African American and Latino writers and filmmakers have forged powerful images of community and effort. This course focuses on films and literary texts that take up the imagery of the ghetto and its role in modern American society. In addition, students consider the role of the inner city as the crucible for hip-hop culture, including its international manifestations. (Jiménez, offered alternate years)

201South Africa: An Orientation This course provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the people, land and culture of South Africa. It is a requirement for students planning to go on the South Africa program. It is taught from an African-centered and feminist perspective inclusive of the variety and diversity of peoples and cultures. It includes the historical, socio-political, literary and cultural aspects. The cultural component includes music and the arts. Issues of health and safety are central to the course. (Pinto, Fall, offered alternate years)

202 Women's Narratives in Post-Apartheid South Africa This course makes students aware of the importance of people in any culture having a voice in the events that influence their lives and examines the contributions of South African women to their history and culture. In the post-apartheid period (since 1994) women's narratives, autobiographies, novels, stories and plays have emerged as a rich source of information about the hidden and silenced majority. These narratives navigate between history and literature, reconfiguring women's roles in South African history and culture. The literary texts can in this way contribute to the restoration of women's places and rewriting their history and contributions. No prerequisites. (Pinto, Fall, offered alternate years)

AFS 208 Growing Up Black This course focuses on the development of racial consciousness and identity in adolescence in African and African Diaspora literature and film.  (Jimenez, McCorkle, offered occasionally)

216 African Literature II: National Literatures of Africa This course is a continuation of African Literature I and focuses on a single national literature from Africa and the ways in which writers and bards work in the context of the postcolonial national society identity. (Pinto)

225 African American Culture This course attempts to identify and analyze distinctive elements of African American culture. It focuses on literature, dance, and film, but also refers to music and visual arts. While it follows the development of African American culture chronologically, it often returns to key experiences and sees them in light of new experiences or different contexts. (Jiménez, offered alternate years)

226 Black Popular Culture This course addresses the developments in African American culture from the Harlem Renaissance onwards, with specific emphasis on the 1980’s through the present. Topics include: development of rhythm and blues, rap, hip-hop and their worldwide impact.

240 African, Asian and Caribbean Women's Texts This course analyzes issues of special importance to Third World women through literary texts. The focus is on the "politics of the body," and includes discussion of such issues as reproduction, fertility and infertility, self-image and racial identity, and aging. (Pinto, offered alternate years)

AFS 300 Black Auteurs In this course, we will analyze closely the work of five black ‘auteurs,’ filmmakers who by choice or necessity have written, directed and sometimes also filmed and edited their own work. Their status as auteurs has allowed them to develop a distinctive style and themes; examples of auteurs include Oscar Micheaux, Ousmane Sembene, Soulemayne Cisse, Haile Gerima, Charles Burnett, Julie Dash and, of course, Spike Lee. In some instances, the label auteur refers to a long-standing collaboration between one or more individuals, such as Spike Lee and Ernest Dickerson. By analyzing more than one film from each, students will be able to trace the stylistic and thematic constants that define the work. The choice of filmmakers to feature may change each time the course is taught. (Jimenez, offered occasionally)

303 Post-Apartheid Identities This course will examine identity in the post-apartheid South Africa analyzing the influence of racism and sexism over a protracted period on the formation of personal and group identity. Political and ideological manipulation and the distortions created by the apartheid system over a long period will be examined in the context of the new democratic South Africa. The intersections and distortions will be examined in novels and other non-fictional works to determine how to gain integrated identities in post-apartheid communities. (Pinto, offered alternate years)

309 Black Cinema This course examines films by African, African American, and other African diaspora directors. It focuses on the attempt by different filmmakers to wrest an African/diasporic identity and aesthetic from a medium that has been defined predominantly by American and European models. Students analyze the implicit and explicit attempts to formulate a black aesthetic within film, as well as the general phenomenon of the representation of blacks in film. Directors considered include Haile Gerima, Ousmane Sembene, Souleymane Cisse, Charles Burnett, Camille Billops, Isaac Julien, Sara Maldoror, Julie Dash, Spike Lee and others. (Jiménez, offered alternate years)

310 Black Images/White Myths This course is designed to provide basic analytical tools for the study of racial and ethnic images in films, television, and other texts. The focus is on African American and Latino images in mainstream media as inflected through issues of race/ethnicity, gender, and class. (Jiménez, offered occasionally)

430 The Films of Spike Lee The work of Spike Lee encompasses many genres (drama, musicals, documentary, comedy, action films and commercials) and addresses some of the most controversial inter-racial and intra-racial issues of our time. For these reasons, he has become a defining cultural icon, and his films have sparked considerable academic interest. Moreover, Spike Lee's own writing about his films in their pre-production and post-production stages gives us the opportunity to look at the creative process in a unique way. In this course then, we shall study Spike Lee's work, not only from the usual critical and academic perspective but also from Lee's perspective as an artist. Prerequisites: Africana Studies major. If there is room, non-Africana Studies majors will be allowed in the course provided they have taken at least two MDSC courses above the 100 level. (Jimenez, offered alternate years)

460 Invisible Man and Its Contexts This course is a seminar focusing on a close reading and analysis of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. Ellison's novel is a pivotal work in the study of African American culture because it draws upon many aspects of the African American experience–history, music, politics, etc., and poses fundamental questions about identity and the nature of American democracy. It also has the distinction of coining one of the enduring tropes of racial discourse—invisibility. Prerequisite: AFS 225, HIST 227, HIST 228, or equivalent. (Jiménez, offered occasionally)

461 Experience of Race In this seminar students explore all aspects of race as part of the human experience in an attempt to understand why racial categories are so pervasive and enduring in Western thought. How did racial categories arise? Was there a time when Western societies did not think in terms of race? Or is race a "natural" way of fixing differences? What is the difference between racialized thinking and racism? Has racism ended, as some social thinkers contend? Will we ever stop categorizing people in terms of race? In addition, students examine the differences in how race is experienced in the United States, Latin America and the English-speaking Caribbean. (Jiménez, Pinto offered occasionally)