Dara Strolovitch


AAS 201
Introduction to the Study of African American Cultural Practices

As the introductory course required to earn a certificate in African American Studies, this course examines the past and present, the doings and the sufferings of Americans of African descent from a multidisciplinary perspective. It highlights the ways in which serious intellectual scrutiny of the agency of black people in the United States help redefine what it means to be American, new world, modern and post modern.

AAS 202 / SOC 202
Introductory Research Methods in African American Studies

The purposes of this course are to assist the student in developing the ability to critically evaluate social science research on the black experience and to do research in African studies. To accomplish these goals, the course will acquaint students with the process of conceptualizing basic research techniques, and some of the unique issues in conducting research on the black experience. A variety of appropriate studies will be utilized.

AAS 212/ENG 212
What’s So Funny? Forms of African American Humor

What’s so funny? is a question that could be turned around to ask: Who’s laughing? Comedian Dave Chappelle might say it’s a question about who gets the joke, and who doesn’t. This survey of African American humor is an introduction to getting the joke. We study the technical artistry of black humorists and comedians and reflect on the audiences for whom they write and perform. We examine a range of cultural expression, from the dozens to stand-up comedy. In our critical and creative work, we assess how past forms and strategies can be adapted to the project of African American humor today

AAS 221 / SOC 221 / WOM 221
Inequality: Class, Race, and Gender

Inequalities in property, power, and prestige examined for their effects on life chances and life styles. Primary focus on socioeconomic classes in modern societies. Special attention to the role of religious, racial, and ethnic factors. Comparisons of different systems of stratification in the world today.

AAS 230 / ENG 231
The Fire This Time: Reading James Baldwin

This course examines the selected non-fiction writings of one of America’s most influential essayists and public intellectuals: James Baldwin. Attention will be given to his views on ethics, art, and politics – with particular consideration given to his critical reflections on race and democracy.

AAS 235 / SOC 236
Race is Socially Constructed: Now, What?

The truism that “race is socially constructed” hides more than it reveals. Have Irish Americans always been white? Are people of African descent all black? Is calling Asian Americans a “model minority” a compliment? Does race impact who we date or marry? In this course, students develop a sophisticated conceptual toolkit to make sense of such contentious cases of racial vision and division as the uprising in Ferguson. We learn to connect contemporary events to historical processes, and individual experiences to institutional policies, exercising a sociological imagination with the potential to not only analyze, but transform the status quo.

AAS 237 / ART 237
Modern and Contemporary African Art

This course examines the range of work by African artists from the colonial period to the era of post-independence. It seeks to familiarize students with modern and contemporary art from Africa by studying forms, ideas, and subject matter that have preoccupied African artists since the mid-2oth century. It is also interested in the critical practices that have helped set these artists on the global stage, as well as theoretical structures that might help our understanding of these processes.

AAS 238 / THR 238
American Spectacle: A Theatre Conversation Beyond the Proscenium

In this workshop, students will create original writing that is in conversation with American theatrical traditions beyond the proscenium. We will investigate and engage American theatrical forms, such as the freak show, burlesque, courtroom drama, mega-church, street protests, violence as spectacle and more.

AAS 239 / COM 239 / AFS 239
Introduction to African Literature and Film

African literature and films have been a vital (but often unacknowledged) stream in and stimulant to the global traffic in invention. Nigerian literature is one of the great literatures of the 20th century. Ethiopian literature is one of the oldest in the world. South Africans have won more Nobel Prizes for Literature in the past forty years than authors from any other country. Senegalese films include some of the finest films ever made. In this course, we will study the richness and diversity of foundational African texts (some in translation), while foregrounding questions of aesthetics, style, humor, and epistemology.