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).


To browse the full list of courses available by academic department, visit Courses of Instruction.



To browse the most up-to-date faculty listing, click here.

2014-2016 CATALOGUE

To browse the 2014-2016 Catalogue online as a PDF, click here.

2012-2014 CATALOGUE

To browse the 2012-2014 Catalogue online as a PDF, click here.

2010-2012 CATALOGUE

To browse the 2010-2012 Catalogue online as a PDF, click here.

2008-2010 CATALOGUE

To browse the 2008-2010 Catalogue online as a PDF, click here.

2006-2008 CATALOGUE

The 2006-2008 Catalogue is still available online as a PDF. To browse it, click here.


If you have questions or comments about the new online Catalogue, please send us your feedback.



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 110 Introduction to African Experience
AFS 150 Foundations of Africana Studies
AFS 180 Black Atlantic

African Concentration
AFS 201 South Africa: An Orientation (CP, H, A)
AFS 203 African Voices: Identity and Colonial Legacy in Recent African Literature (AL)
AFS 208 Growing Up Black (AL)
AFS 309 Black Cinema (AL, C, CP)
ANTH 296 Africa: Beyond Crisis, Poverty & Aid (A, C)
ANTH 354/454 Food, Meaning & Voice (A, C)
ARAB 101 Beginning Arabic I (CP, C)
ARAB 102 Beginning Arabic II (CP, C)
ARAB 201 Intermediate Arabic I (CP, C)
ARAB 202 Intermediate Arabic II (CP, C)
DAN 110 Introduction to Global Dance Forms (AL)
DAN 907 Introduction to Jamaican Dance (AL)
DAN Global Dance Techniques (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)
POL 258 Comparative Politics of the Middle East (CP)
POL 259 African Politics (CP)
POL 285 International Politics of the Middle East (CP)

African American Concentration
AFS 200 Ghettoscapes (AL, C)
AFS 208 Growing Up Black (AL)
AFS 211 Black Earth: Nature and African American Writing (AL)
AFS 230 New World Voices (AL)
AFS 305 Dust Tracks in the Road: The African American Autobiography (AL)
AFS 309 Black Cinema (AL, C, CP)
ARTH 201 African American Art (AL)
ECON 243 Political Economy of Race (H, CP)
EDUC 337 Education and Racial Diversity in the U.S. (C)
ENG 165 Introduction to African American Literature I (AL)
ENG 361 Readings in Multi-Ethnic Women's Literature (AL)
ENG 362 Body, Memory, and Representation (AL)
FRE 253 Paris-outre-mer (CP, AL, C)
FRNE 218 Memory, Culture and Identity in French Caribbean Literatures (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)
REL 238 Liberating Theology (C)
REL 241 Rastaman and Christ (C)
SOC 221 Sociology of Minorities (C)
WRRH 251 Black Talk/White Talk (C)

AFS 110 Introduction to African Experience The African continent houses fifty-four countries, more than two thousand languages, and the most genetically diverse population in the world.  This course introduces you to the major themes in the study of African history, culture, literature, politics, and economics. From the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the HIV/AIDS crisis, from precolonial oral traditions to contemporary cinema, we will explore both the challenges facing Africa and the continent’s rich cultural and political tradition.  Major themes will include the impact of colonialism on African politics and culture; the determinants of economic growth and human development; and debates about “modernity” and “tradition” in the African context.

AFS 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.

AFS 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)

AFS 203 African Voices: Identity and Colonial Legacy in Recent African Literature The challenges to African literature described by Ng?g? wa Thiong’o in his Decolonising the Mind form the basis for our discussions of recent African literature.  Principal themes of the course then are the critique of social structures both traditional and colonial, the position of women, modalities of resistances, and the exploration of expression within and against the conventions of European literature.  While relying primarily on the novel to represent diverse cultures and approaches to questions of identity, the course will also include essays, memoir, poetry and film.  Readings may include Ng?g? wa Thiong’o, Decolonising the Mind; Wole Soyinka: Ake: The Years of Childhood; Bucchi Emecheta: The Slave Girl; Okot p’Bitek: Song of Lawino; Nawal El Saadawi: Woman at Point Zero; Yvonne Vera: The Stone Virgins; Boubacar Boris Diop: Murambi: The Book of Bones; Zakes Mda: Ways of Dying; Zoe Wicomb: Playing in the Light. (McCorkle, offered occasionally)

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. (McCorkle, alternate years relative to AFS 211)

AFS 211 Black Earth: Nature and African American Writing Writing about nature—whether from the tradition of the sublime or as an expression of American potentiality or from the perspective of eco-criticism—has excluded considerations of the contributions of African Americans. What concepts of nature and one’s interaction with nature that survived the Middle Passage, the relationship of slavery, migration, and rural and urban life as well as contemporary appraisals of the environment will be among the topics considered. In particular, through literary works—whether essays, novels, or poems—environmental concerns and approaches to nature are addressed. The course proposes there is a decided and profound tradition within the African American community of addressing nature that both parallels and is quite distinct from European traditions.  Secondly, the course proposes to examine the conjunction of discrimination and environmental degradation, that the bifurcation of humans from nature is intrinsically linked to social injustice and inequality.  Readings may include Henry Bibb: The Narrative of Henry Bibb; Camille T. Dungy: Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry; W.E.B. Dubois: Souls of Black Folk; Jean Toomer:  Cane; Zora Neale Hurson: Their Eyes were Watching God; bell hooks: Belonging; Toni Morrison:  A Mercy; C.S. Giscombe: Giscome Road; Natasha Trethewey: Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. (McCorkle, alternate years relative to AFS 208)

AFS 220 Africana Sacred Matters: Religious Materialities in Africa and the Americas This course will introduce students to Africana religions in Africa and the Diaspora through examining their respective material cultures and embodied practices. During the first part of the semester, students will explore several African indigenous religions and materials cultures on the continent with an attention to the foundational elements of African thought, practice , and ethics. During the second half of the semester, we will then examine manifestations and transformations of African religions in the Caribbean and the Americas. With Specific attention to Kongo, Vodun, and Yoruba-inspired religious cultures, the primary goal of this course is for students to investigate Africana religious experiences through varied materialities and embodiments of the sacred.

AFS 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.  (Jimenez, alternate years)

AFS 230 New World Voices Among the aims of this course, and corresponding to the mission of Africana Studies, is to provide an understanding and appreciation of cultural transactions: that we are always in the process of exchanging and renewing culture and language, specifically African and Western, is a fundamental goal. Secondly, the course will provide an introduction to two of the most influential Caribbean poets as well as a variety of contemporary poets and poetics that exemplify West African, African American, and Caribbean poetry. The development and practice of close reading constitutes a third but no less important aim of the course.  Readings include works by Kamau Braithwaite, Derek Walcott, Niyi Osundare, Harriet Mullen, Claudia Rankine, and Will Alexander. (McCorkle, offered occasionally)

AFS/ANTH 296 Africa: Beyond Crisis, Poverty, and Aid This course explores the continent’s diversity by reexamining broadly held stereotypes, delving into its history, and researching daily realities of modern day Africans. We will examine a cultural mosaic of different African societies from a variety of perspectives, including anthropology, politics, history, and economics. While this course focuses on small-scale communities and case studies, it also looks at wider sociocultural and geopolitical interconnections. We will ask how common representations of Africa shape our understanding of this diverse continent and gain insight into the many different ways Africans live their lives. I'm pleased you are in this course. There is a Zambian Chibemba proverb that states, "Imiti iikula, e mpanga." (Growing trees make a forest.) May this course act as a nursery that fosters your intellectual growth about this extraordinary part of our world! 

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)

AFS 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. (McCorkle, offered occasionally)

AFS 305 Dust Tracks in the Road: The African American Autobiography The memoir or autobiography is often cast as a personal narrative; this course proposes that the memoir, and in particular the African American memoir, serves as not only the record of one’s life, but also as having political agency and intention.  Beginning with Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Malcolm X’s Autobiography and Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of my Name, to Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, the course will consider the autobiography as an argument for political and social change; as a witness to one’s life, it also enacts a re-visionary process of social justice.  To what degree does the structure of the slave narrative continue to inform contemporary narratives?  In what ways might there be a definitive element for African American autobiographical writing?  How do the community and writers interact and are interdependent?  What is at stake for the African American autobiographer? (McCorkle, offered occasionally)

AFS 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)

AFS 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)



Hobart and William Smith Colleges,
Geneva, NY 14456
(315) 781-3000

Contact the Colleges


Offices and Resources
Campus Directory

make a gift

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.