Undergraduate Courses and Subfields

 African American Studies undergraduate courses are offered in three subfields – African American Culture and Life, Race & Public Policy, and Global Race & Ethnicity. Courses outside of ‘AAS’ may count towards credit in the department if they satisfy our Articulation Agreements and/or are an Approved Cognate course. Courses at the 500-Level are aimed at graduate students, but undergraduates may be considered for enrollment on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the instructor.

African American Culture and Life (AACL) Subfield
In the African American Culture and Life subfield students use and interrogate social science methodologies in examining the condition of the American state and American institutions and practices. With an analysis of race and ethnicity at the center, students will examine the development of institutions and practices, with the growth and formation of racial and ethnic identities, including changing perceptions, measures, and reproduction of inequality.

Race and Public Policy (RPP) Subfield
In the Race & Public Policy subfield students use the prevailing analytical tools and critical perspectives of African American studies to consider comparative approaches to groups, broadly defined. Students will examine the intellectual traditions, socio-political contexts, expressive forms, and modes of belonging of people who are understood to share common boundaries/experiences as either:
     (1) Africans and the African Diaspora outside of the United States and
     (2) non-African-descended people of color within the United States.

Global Race and Ethnicity (GRE) Subfield
In the Global Race & Ethnicity subfield students use and interrogate social science methodologies in examining the condition of the American state and American institutions and practices. With an analysis of race and ethnicity at the center, students will examine the development of institutions and practices, with the growth and formation of racial and ethnic identities, including changing perceptions, measures, and reproduction of inequality.

Fall 2017 Courses

Courses are not offered every semester, or every year. Refer to the Office of the Registrar for each term's specific offerings.

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AAS 201
Introduction to the Study of African American Cultural PracticesGRE and AACL

Taught by Professor Imani Perry

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

Taught by Professor Kinohi Nishikawa

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 245/ART 245
Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts MovementsAACL

Taught by Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu

This course surveys important moments in twentieth century African American art from the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s to the 1960s Black Arts movement. Our close studies of the work of major artists will be accompanied by examination of influential theories and ideologies of blackness during two key moments of black racial consciousness in the United States. We shall cover canonical artists and writers such as Aaron Douglas, James van der Zee, William H. Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, W. E. B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, James Porter and Jeff Donaldson.





AAS 301/SOC 367
Black to the Future: Science, Fiction, and SocietyRPP and AACL

Taught by Professor Ruha Benjamin

Designer Babies. Ancestry Tests. Organ Regeneration. Biometric Surveillance. These and more comprise our 21st century landscape. This interdisciplinary course examines the values and politics that shape science, medicine, and technology, asking who bears the risk and who reaps the benefit of innovations? Social inequality is legitimized, in part, by myths about human difference. And while course participants grapple with past and present stories that shape science and technology, we also apply a sociological imagination to the future, exploring how contemporary hopes and fears may give rise to "real utopias" that are more equitable and just.





AAS 350/SOC 362
Rats, Riots, and Revolution: Housing in the Metropolitan United StatesRPP

Taught by Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

This course examines the history of urban and suburban housing in the twentieth century U. S. We will examine the relationship between postwar suburban development as a corollary to the "underdevelopment" of American cities contributing to what scholars have described as the "urban crisis" of the 1960s. Housing choice and location were largely shaped by discriminatory practices in the real estate market, thus, the course explores the consequences of the relationship between public policy and private institutions in shaping the metropolitan area including after the passage of federal anti-housing discrimination legislation in the late 1960s.





AAS 353/ENG 352
African American Literature: Origins to 1910GRE and AACL

Taught by Professor Autumn Womack

This introductory course focuses on black literature and literary culture from the mid-eighteenth century to the early twentieth; it will cover the poetry of Phillis Wheatley and Paul L. Dunbar; the political oratory of Sojourner Truth and David Walker; slave narratives by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs; non-fiction prose by W. E. B. Du Bois and Anna Julia Cooper; and Frances Harper's and James Weldon Johnson's novels. In readings, assignments, and discussions, we will explore the unique cultural contexts, aesthetic debates, and socio-political forces that surround the production of an early African American literary tradition.





AAS 367/HIS 387
African American History Since EmancipationGRE and AACL

Taught by Professor Joshua Guild

An analysis of the social, political, legal, and cultural dimensions of the African American experience in the United States throughout critical historical moments such as Reconstruction, suffrage, the Great Migration, war, the Great Depression, the New Deal, the Civil Rights era, the black power movement, and contemporary racial politics.





AAS 380/AMS 382
Public Policy in the U.S. Racial StateRPP

Taught by Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

This course explores how ideas and discourses about race shape how public policy is debated, adopted, and implemented. Black social movements and geopolitical considerations prompted multiple public policy responses to racial discrimination throughout the twentieth century. Despite these policy responses, discrimination persists, raising theoretical concerns about the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, political representation, the role of the state (meaning government or law) in promoting social justice, and the role of social movements and civil society in democratizing policymaking and addressing group oppression.