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.

Spring 2016 Courses

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

To view course information, click on the box to expand.

AAS 200
Collaborative Learning Exchange: Creative Explorations of JusticeAACL

Taught by Professor Chris Hedges

This course will focus through stories and essays the issues of violence, alienation, justice, dignity, punishment, conscience, economic inequality, redemption and transformation. It will examine these issues through the lens of great creative writers, as well as the creative writing of students.



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.

10:00 am - 10:50 am MW

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

Taught by Professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

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.

1:30 pm - 4:20 pm M

AAS 342 / COM 394 / AFS 342
Sisters' Voices: African Women WritersGRE

Taught by Professor Wendy Laura Belcher

In this class, we study the richness and diversity of poetry, novels, and memoirs written by African women. The course expands students' understanding of the long history of women's writing across Africa and a range of languages. It focuses on their achievements while foregrounding questions of aesthetics and style. As an antidote to misconceptions of African women as silent, students analyze African women's self-representations and how they theorize social relations within and across ethnic groups, generations, classes, and genders. The course increase students' ability to think, speak, and write critically about gender.


1:30pm - 4:20 M

AAS 349 / ART 364
Seeing to Remember: Representing Slavery Across the Black AtlanticGRE and AACL

Taught by Professor Anna Arabindan-Kesson

The class explores the historical representation of slavery and its contemporary manifestations in art of the Black diaspora. It pays particular attention to the different ways that art objects, institutions and monuments narrate these histories and considers why slavery remains relatively invisible in public art, in public monuments, and as a subject for national institutions in the US. Students will have the opportunity to work closely with objects held in collections at Princeton, go on field trips and learn from visiting artists and curators. Their final assignment will be the construction of a digital exhibition.


1:30pm - 4:20 pm M

AAS 359 / ENG 366
African American Literature: Harlem Renaissance to the PresentAACL

Taught by Professor Cassandra Jackson

A survey of twentieth and twenty-first century African American literature, including the tradition's key aesthetic manifestos. Special attention to how modern African American literature is periodized and why certain innovations in genre and style emerged when they did. Poetry, essays, novels, popular fiction, a stage production or two, and related visual texts.


11:00 am - 12:20 pm T

AAS 366 / HIS 386
African American History to 1863AACL

Taught by Professor Tera W. Hunter

This course explores African-American history from the Atlantic slave trade up to the Civil War. It is centrally concerned with the rise of and overthrow of human bondage and how they shaped the modern world. Africans were central to the largest and most profitable forced migration in world history. They shaped new identities and influenced the contours of American politics, law, economics, culture and society. The course considers the diversity of experiences in this formative period of nation-making. Race, class, gender, region, religion, labor, and resistance animate important themes in the course.


11:00 am - 11:50 am TTh

AAS 368 / REL 368
Topics in African American Religion: Black Religion and the Harlem RenaissanceAACL

Taught by Professor Wallace Best

The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s is most often depicted as "the flowering of African American arts and literature." It can also be characterized as a period when diverse forms of African American religious expressions, ideologies, and institutions emerged. This course will explore the literature of the Harlem Renaissance, particularly the writings of Langston Hughes, to understand the pivotal intersection of race and religion during this time of black "cultural production.


1:30pm - 4:20 pm W

AAS 370 / AMS 374
Policing Racial Order: The History of U.S. Police Power From Slave Patrols to DronesRPP

Taught by Professor Naomi Murakawa

This course investigates the role of police power in reinforcing or challenging racial order in all of its economic, spatial, and gendered manifestations. We pay particular attention to the ways in which commonplace notions of safety and security develop in relation to the history of territorial expansion, war, wealth accumulation, and the racialized distribution of private property.


1:30pm - 4:20 pm W

AAS 380 / AMS 383
Public Policy in the American Racial StateRPP

Taught by Professor Naomi Murakawa

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.


1:30pm - 4:20 pm T

AAS 392 / ENG 392
Topics in African American Literature: Fictions of Black Urban LifeAACL

Taught by Professor Nijah Cunningham

This course considers the transformation of urban life in the 20th and 21st centuries through an exploration of selected works by African American and African diasporic writers, artists, and intellectuals. We will discuss sociological studies, novels, poems, music, and experimental works that interrogate fictions such as urban development, revitalization, and even gentrification. Here, "fiction" names the implicit narratives and imaginaries of the urban that animate both its policy and design. Ultimately, the course is concerned with the discourses of black pathology and hidden forms of social life that have shaped the contemporary city.


1:30pm - 4:20 pm Th

AAS 404 / GSS 419 / POL 429
Intersectional Activisms and Movements for Social JusticeRPP

Taught by Professor Dara Z. Strolovitch

Examines the role of intersectionality roots as a political intervention growing out of and based in movement politics. Begins with early articulations of intersec- tional perspectives on the part of Black feminists and feminists of colour, emphasizing its movement roots. Examines empirical research about social movements and political activism, focusing on scholarship that considers both the potential of and the challenges to movements that try to address the imbrication of racial inequalities with other forms of marginalization and domination, including (though not limited to) heteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, and the carceral state.


1:30pm - 4:20 pm T

AAS 404/GSS 419 /POL 429
Intersectional Activisms and Movements For Social JusticeRPP

Taught by Professor Dara Strolovitch

Examines the role of intersectionality roots as a political intervention growing out of and based in movement politics. Begins with early articulations of intersectional perspectives on the part of Black feminists and feminists of colour, emphasizing its movement roots. Examines empirical research about social movements and political activism, focusing on scholarship that considers both the potential of and the challenges to movements that try to address the imbrication of racial inequalities with other forms of marginalization and domination, including (though not limited to) heteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, and the carceral state

Seminar S01: 1:30 pm – 4:20 pm W

AAS 522 / COM 522 / ENG 504
Publishing Articles in Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies500-Level

Taught by Professor Wendy Laura Belcher

In this interdisciplinary class, students of race and gender will read deeply and broadly in academic journals as a way of learning the debates in their fields and placing their scholarship in relationship to them. Students will report each week on the trends in the last five years of any journal of their choice, writing up the articles' arguments and debates, while also revising a paper in relationship to those debates and preparing it for publication. This course enables students to leap forward in their scholarly writing through a better understanding of their fields and the significance of their work to them.


10:00am - 12:50pm

AAS 522/COM 522/ENG 504
Publishing Articles in Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies500-Level

Taught by Professor Wendy Laura Belcher

In this interdisciplinary class, students of race and gender will read deeply and broadly in academic journals as a way of learning the debates in their fields and placing their scholarship in relationship to them. Students will report each week on the trends in the last five years of any journal of their choice, writing up the articles’ arguments and debates, while also revising a paper in relationship to those debates and preparing it for publication. This course enables students to leap forward in their scholarly writing through a better understanding of their fields and the significance of their work to them.



AMS 315 / MTD 315 / THR 341 / AAS 309
Race and the American Musical from Minstrelsy to HamiltonAACL

Taught by Professor Stacy Wolf

This seminar explores how and why race is a key component of the Broadway musical theatre. From 19th-century minstrel shows, in which African American performers "blacked up" to play black characters previously performed by whites in blackface; to the mid-20th century "golden age" musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein, in which Asian characters were created to support a white liberal agenda; to the blockbuster HAMILTON, which merges musical theatre conventions and hip hop to re-tell the story of America, performances of race and ethnicity structure the American musical's aesthetic and political work. How did we get from there to here?

1:30pm - 4:20pm T

ART 560 / AAS 560
Art and the British Empire500-Level

Taught by Professor Anna Arabindan-Kesson

This seminar proceeds through a series of thematic and case studies ranging from Britain's early colonial expansion to the legacies of empire in contemporary art and museum practice. Topics include science and ethnography; the colonial picturesque; curiosity and collecting; slavery and visual representation; art and nationalism and readings are drawn from a range of disciplines.

1:30pm - 4:20pm T

CLA 310 / AAS 311
Citizenships Ancient and ModernGRE and AACL

Taught by Professor Dan-El Padilla Peralta

Recent developments in the United States and throughout the world have exposed fault lines in how communities design and regulate forms of citizenship. But current debates over the assignment, withholding, or deprivation of citizen status have a long and violent history. In this course we will attempt to map a history of citizenship from the ancient Mediterranean world to the 21st century. Questions to be tackled include: who/what is a citizen? (How) are exclusion and marginalization wired into the historical legacies and present-day practices of citizenship?

11:00am - 11:50 am TTh

COM 376 / AAS 371 / ENG 377 / GSS 381
Crafting Freedom: Women and Liberation in the Americas (1960s to the present)GRE and AACL

Taught by Professor Susana Draper

This course explores the question of liberation in writings by women philosophers and poets whose work helped to create cultural and political movements in the U.S. and Latin America. Starting in the 60s, we will study a poetics and politics of liberation, paying special attention to the role played by language and imagination when ideas translate onto social movements related to abolition, education, care, and the commons. Readings include Angela Davis, Gloria Anzaldúa, Silvia Federici, Diamela Eltit, Audre Lorde, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Gayatri Spivak, Zapatistas, among others.

1:30pm - 4:20 pm W

DAN 211 / AAS 211
American Dance Experience & Africanist PracticesGRE and AACL

Taught by Professor Harvey Salaam

A studio course introducing students to American dance aesthetics and practices, with a focus on how its evolution has been influenced by African American choreographers and dancers. An ongoing study of movement practices from traditional African dances and those of the African diaspora, touching on American jazz dance, modern dance, and American ballet. Studio work will be complemented by readings, video viewings, guest speakers, and dance studies.

2:30pm - 4:20pm MW

DAN 222 / AAS 222
Introduction to Hip-Hop DanceAACL

Taught by Professor Joseph Schloss

This introductory survey course gives equal weight to scholarly study and embodied practice, using both approaches to explore a range of hip-hop dance techniques, as well as the cultural and historical contexts from which these dances emerged. Special attention will be given to breaking - the most prominent hip-hop form - as a foundation for exploring other forms of movement. By critically exploring these physical and historical connections, individuals will adapt and apply their own philosophies to dance in order to develop a personalized style.

11:00am - 1:20pm F

DAN 322 / AAS 312
Special Topics in Urban Dance: Improvisational Approaches to Hip-Hop PracticesAACL

Taught by Professor Raphael X. Williams

This course is designed to provide a broad understanding of hip-hop dance, history and culture. We will explore the various dance styles and folk art traditions that preceded and influenced hip-hop dance and its essential elements. With a focus on Breaking and its deconstruction of body movements and choreographic forms, the course will emphasize the creative tools inherent in Breaking techniques and improvisational structures to support students to develop and find their own individual style. Viewings and readings videos will contextualize students' investigations.

4:30pm - 6:20pm TTh

HIS 393 / AAS 393 / WWS 389
Race, Drugs, and Drug Policy in AmericaRPP

Taught by Professor Keith A. Wailoo

From "Chinese opium" to Oxycontin, and from cocaine and "crack" to BiDil, drug controversies reflect enduring debates about the role of medicine, the law, the policing of ethnic identity, and racial difference. This course explores the history of controversial substances (prescription medicines, over-the-counter products, black market substances, psychoactive drugs), and how, from cigarettes to alcohol and opium, they become vehicles for heated debates over immigration, identity, cultural and biological difference, criminal character, the line between legality and illegality, and the boundaries of the normal and the pathological.

10:00am - 10:50am TTh

POL 319 / AAS 316 / AMS 391 (EM)
History of African American Political ThoughtRPP

Taught by Professor Desmond D. Jagmohan

This course explores central themes and ideas in the history of African American political thought: slavery and freedom, solidarity and sovereignty, exclusion and citizenship, domination and democracy, inequality and equality, rights and respect. Readings will be drawn, primarily, from canonical authors, including Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, Martin Delany, Booker T. Washington, Anna Julia Cooper, Ida B. Wells, W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Ralph Ellison, Kwame Ture and Charles Hamilton, and Martin Luther King, Jr. This is an introductory course, which emphasizes both thematic and historical approaches to political theory.

9:00 am - 9:50 am TTh

REL 310 / AAS 310
American PentecostalismGRE and AACL

Taught by Professor Wallace Best

Pentecostalism is the fastest growing religious movement in the world, having a major impact on the religious, social, and economic practices in many areas of the country. This course looks into the religious and cultural sources of the movement from its birth in Los Angeles in 1906, focusing on such distinctive features as healing, expressive bodily worship, "speaking in tongues," and its special appeal to people on the margins of society.

11:00am - 12:20pm TTh

REL 367 / AAS 346
The American Jeremiad and Social Criticism in the United StatesAACL

Taught by Professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

This course examines the religious and philosophical roots of prophecy as a form of social criticism in American intellectual and religious history. Particular attention is given to what is called the American Jeremiad, a mode of public exhortation that joins social criticism to spiritual renewal. Michael Walzer, Sacvan Bercovitch, and Edward Said serve as key points of departure in assessing prophetic criticisms, insights and limitations. Attention is also given to the role of black prophetic critics such as James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cornel West.

1:30pm - 4:20pm T

SPA 352 / LAS 356 / AAS 352
Topics in the Politics of Writing and Difference: Literature and Slavery in the Iberian AtlanticRPP and GRE

Taught by Professor Rachel L. Price

This course examines literature, court records, travel narratives, and the only known autobiography of an ex-slave in Spanish to consider the world of slavery, uprisings and emancipation across Latin America in the nineteenth century. Centered on Cuba, whose earliest literature focused on the island's massive slave industry, the course opens up to consider histories and literatures from Haiti, Colombia, Brazil, and beyond. Also included: recent historiography, psychoanalysis, and contemporary representations of slavery in Latin America, including films.

3:00pm - 4:20pm MW

WWS 331 / AAS 317 / SOC 312
Race and Public PolicyRPP

Taught by Professor Douglas Massey

Analyzes the historical construction of race as a concept in American society, how and why this concept was institutionalized publicly and privately in various arenas of U.S. public life at different historical junctures, and the progress that has been made in dismantling racialized institutions since the civil rights era.

10:00am - 10:50am MW