Spring 2019 Courses

AAS Courses


AAS 235, SOC 236 (SA)

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.

Ruha Benjamin

AAS 302, SOC 303, ANT 378, GHP 302 (SA)

Political Bodies: The Social Anatomy of Power and Difference


Students will learn about the human body in its social, cultural and political contexts. The framing is sociological rather than biomedical, attentive to cultural meanings, institutional practices, politics and social problems. The course explicitly discusses bodies in relation to race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, age, health, geography and citizenship status, carefully examining how social differences come to appear natural. Analyzing clinics, prisons, border zones, virtual realities and more, students develop a conceptual toolkit to analyze how society "gets under the skin", producing differential exposure to premature death. 

Ruha Benjamin

AAS 303 (HA)

Topics in Global Race and Ethnicity: From Haiti to Ferguson: The Global Black Freedom Struggle


This seminar surveys the global and historical dimensions of the black freedom struggle beginning with the Haitian Revolution. Course readings challenge students to reflect on the contingent nature of identity and power as experienced by people of African descent living on different continents over the course of two centuries. Meanwhile, class assignments facilitate practice with critical thinking, civic engagement, and different forms of communication, including oral history, blog posts, and exhibit design.

Jessica Ann Levy

AAS 304, HUM 303, GSS 325 (HA)

History of Black Captivity

This course explores the intellectual history of black captivity. We begin by analyzing how black political prisoners have been understood as symbols, while also paying close attention to how scientific racism not only legitimized black captivity, but also modern captivity in general. Students then concentrate on examining the transition from the notion of slave captivity to the premeditated containment of black bodies through criminalization, exploitation, human experimentation, and alienation. Lastly, we address how black social movements have used "captivity" as a trope within discourses of resistance and restorative justice.

Dannelle Gutarra Cordero

AAS 306, AMS 305 (HA)

Topics in Race and Public Policy: Radical Subjects - Race and Deportation


This seminar critically explores the historical practice of deportation in the United States both past and present, looking at how our ideas of human rights, freedom, and belonging intersect with racial and national ideologies. We will work through a wide archive of literature, theory, and art, drawing important connections between the political geographies, experiences, and responses of Indigenous Americans, Black dissidents and Mexican deportees. This study of removal will help us to reflect on the contemporary moment of global mass migrations when humans are increasingly managed through preventative policing, detention, and deportation.

Olivia Mena

AAS 313, LAS 377, HIS 213 (HA)

Modern Caribbean History


This course will explore the major issues that have shaped the Caribbean since 1791, including: colonialism and revolution, slavery and abolition, migration and diaspora, economic inequality, and racial hierarchy. We will examine the Caribbean through a comparative approach--thinking across national and linguistic boundaries--with a focus on Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. While our readings and discussions will foreground the islands of the Greater Antilles, we will also consider relevant examples from the circum-Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora as points of comparison. 

Reena N. Goldthree

AAS 318, REL 318, GSS 375 (LA)

Black Women and Spiritual Narrative


This course will analyze the narrative accounts of African American women since the nineteenth century. Working from the hypothesis that religious metaphor and symbolism have figured prominently in black women's writing (& writing about black women) across literary genres, we will explore the various ways black women have used their narratives not only to disclose the intimacies of their religious faith, but also to understand and to critique their social context. We will discuss the themes, institutions, and structures that have traditionally shaped black women's experiences, as well as the theologies black women have developed in response.

Wallace D. Best

AAS 319, LAS 368, GSS 356 (HA)

Caribbean Women's History


This seminar investigates the historical experiences of women in the Caribbean from the era of European conquest to the late twentieth century. We will examine how shifting conceptions of gender, sexuality, race, class, and the body have shaped understandings of womanhood and women's rights. We will engage a variety of sources - including archival documents, films, newspaper accounts, feminist blogs, music, and literary works - in addition to historical scholarship and theoretical texts. The course will include readings on the Spanish-, English-, and French-speaking Caribbean as well as the Caribbean diaspora. 

Reena N. Goldthree

AAS 351, GSS 351 (SA)

Law, Social Policy, and African American Women


Journeying from enslavement and Jim Crow to the post-civil rights era, this course will learn how law and social policy have shaped, constrained, and been resisted by black women's experience and thought. Using a wide breadth of materials including legal scholarship, social science research, visual arts, and literature, we will also develop an understanding of how property, the body, and the structure and interpretation of domestic relations have been frameworks through which black female subjectivity in the United States was and is mediated.

Imani Perry

AAS 359, ENG 366 (LA)

African American Literature: Harlem Renaissance to Present


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.

Cassandra Jackson

AAS 366, HIS 386 (HA)

African American History to 1863


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.

Tera Hunter

AAS 372, ART 374, AMS 372 (LA)

Postblack: Contemporary African American Art


As articulated by Thelma Golden, postblack refers to the work of African American artists who emerged in the 1990s with ambitious, irreverent, and sassy work. Postblack suggests the emergence of a generation of artists removed from the long tradition of black affirmation of the Harlem Renaissance, black empowerment of the Black Arts movement, and identity politics of the 1980s and early 90s. This seminar involves critical and theoretical readings on multiculturalism, race, identity, and contemporary art, and will provide an opportunity for a deep engagement with the work of African American artists of the past decade.

Chika Okeke-Agulu

AAS 404, GSS 419, POL 429 (SA)

Intersectional Activisms and Movements for Social Justice


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, abelism, and the carceral state. 

Dara Strolovitch


Graduate Courses


AAS 500

African American Intellectual Tradition

This interdisciplinary seminar introduces graduate students to African-American intellectual traditions. Reading across disciplines and genres, we will engage theories and histories of racial formation, racial capitalism, slavery and empire, social movements, and cultural representation. Particular attention will be paid to black radicalism, to the ways various thinkers have imagined the relationship between theory and praxis, and to black intellectual activity as a dynamic site of both critique and knowledge production.

Eddie Glaude, Joshua Guild

AAS 522, COM 522, ENG 504

Publishing Articles in Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

In this interdisciplinary class, students of race and gender 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 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.   

Wendy Laura Belcher

AAS 555

Toni Morrison: Texts and Contexts

This course provides a critical overview of the writings of Toni Morrison. Close reading, cultural analysis, intertextuality, social theory and the African American literary tradition are emphasized.

Imani Perry


Cross-listed Courses


AMS 315, MTD 315, THR 344, AAS 309 (LA)

Race and the American Musical From Minstrelsy to Hamilton


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?

Stacy Wolf

AMS 334, AAS 335 (SA)

Decolonizing America: A Seminar in Black Worldmaking


This seminar asks its participants to think critically about notions of American dominance, American exceptionalism, and indeed about American power, through the critical lenses of race, gender and decoloniality. We move back and forth across temporalities and social spaces thinking about what kinds of American futures African Americans imagined in the past, and what kinds of futures feel possible in the present. The course uses scholarly readings, science fiction, poetry, film, television, and popular music as a way to understand how Black people in America try to live out a daily disposition toward the decolonial.

Brittany Cooper

ANT 223, AMS 223, AAS 224, URB 224 (SA)

Policing and Militarization Today


This class aims to explore transnational issues in policing. Drawing heavily upon anthropological methods and theory, we aim neither to vindicate nor contest the police's right to use force (whether a particular instance was a violation of law), but instead, to contribute to the understanding of force (its forms, justifications, interpretations). The innovative transnational approach to policing developed during the semester will allow for a cross-cultural comparative analysis that explores larger rubrics of policing in a comprehensive social scientific framework. We hope that you are ready to explore these exciting and urgent issues with us.

Aisha Beliso-de Jesús, Laurence Ralph

ANT 389, AAS 333, AMS339 (SA)

Religion and Culture: Muslims in America


The course is an introduction to Muslim cultures in the US. We will read texts from anthropology, sociology, history and other fields to develop an understanding of the historical and present diversity of Muslim communities in America. The first half provides a survey of Muslim communities in this country from the 17th century onward. The second half is a thematic approach to various topics: 9/11, women and gender, religious conversion, interfaith relations, youth, mosques as institutions, and Islamophobia. In addition to scholarly materials, we will learn from multimedia sources (films, news, cartoons), visitors, and a visit to local mosque.

Aly Kassam-Remtulla

ANT 461, AAS 364, GHP 461, GSS 461 (EM)

Disability, Difference, and Race


While diseases are often imagined to be scientific or medical conditions, they are also social constructs. In the 19th century the condition of Dysaesthesia Aethiopis (an ailment that made its sufferers "mischievous") was considered nearly universal among free blacks. Today AIDS and tuberculosis are often associated with personal attributes, while the social forces at work to structure risk for acquiring these illnesses are glossed over. We will examine work from anthropologists, sociologists, historians, queer studies scholars and scientists who work on issues of disability to investigate how people challenge contemporary visions of society.

Laurence Ralph

DAN 211, AAS 211 (LA)

The American Dance Experience and Africanist Dance


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.

Dyane Harvey Salaam

DAN 222, AAS 222 (LA)

Introduction to Hip-Hop Dance


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.

Joseph Schloss

DAN 323, AAS 309, LAO 323 (LA)

The Politics of Hip-Hop Dance


Hip-Hop is one of the most important cultural movements of the last half-century. But although hip-hop culture comprises a wide range of artistic practices - including music, dance, theater and graphic arts - its cultural politics are almost always analyzed through the lens of rap music. This seminar, by contrast, will explore the social and historical implications of hip-hop culture through its dance forms.

Joseph Schloss

DAN 350, AAS 329, CWR 350 (LA)

Creating Your Biomythography Workshop


Coined by the poet and essayist Audre Lorde, the term "biomythography" combines history, biography, and myth-making. Using an interdisciplinary workshop approach to explore the concept of the biomyth, this course will provide an introduction to various sites of contemporary art practices situating literature, design, and dance within a social and historical context. Zami will serve as a point of departure into the creation of our memoir narratives. Additional texts will include live and recorded performances, historical, theoretical secondary sources, as well as guest writers, poets and artists.

Jaamil Olawale Kosoko

AAS 413, ENG 411 (LA)

Major Author(s): Mourning America: Emerson and Douglass


This course focuses on the literary and political writings of these two "representative men" of the 19th century. Suggesting that the promise of America has yet to be realized, they argue that democracy can be furthered through acts of writing. The course stages an encounter that may revise our understanding of both of these writers, especially in relation to issues of slavery, racism, and capital. Demonstrating that Douglass' strategies of writing have relays with Emerson's points to the political and historical character of Emerson's writings but also to the profoundly literary elements of Douglass' political writings.

Eduardo L. Cadava

ENG 411, AAS 413 (LA)

Major Author(s): Toni Morrison and the Ethics of Reading


This course traces the relationship between reading, politics, and aesthetics in the work of Toni Morrison. Working across her published oeuvre and personal archive -- from the "Bluest Eye" to "God Save the Child" -- we will approach Morrison as a critical reader, as a theorist of reading, and her novels as sites that interrogate reading practices. In tackling these goals, we will not only read works Morrison authored, but also works she edited (Gayle Jones' Corregidora), and collaborated on (The Black Book).

Autumn M. Womack

FRE 376, AAS 378 (LA)

Haiti: History, Literature, and Arts of the First Black Republic


The readings and discussions will consider how the literature and arts of Haiti affirm, contest, and bear witness to historical narratives concerning the world's first black republic. The course will sample an array of historical accounts, novels, Afro-Caribbean religion (Vodun), plays, music, film, and visual arts of this unique postcolonial nation.

Rober W. Decker & F. Nick Nesbitt

LAS 313, LAO 313, AAS 331 (SA)

Locked Up in the Americas: A History of Prisons and Detainment


This course explores the history of incarceration, detention centers, and internment camps in the Americas from the 1800s to the present. It addresses a range of issues, including political suppression, inmate labor, immigration, and the architectures of confinement, to show how penal colonies, convict transport, exile, and international policing have been evolving endeavors of state and social control since independence. We will look at a series of case studies, from detainment on the US-Mexico border and a panopticon in Cuba to the famed escapes at Devil's Island and the Chilean penal island that inspired the story of Robinson Crusoe.

Ryan Edwards

MUS 262, AAS 262 (LA)

Jazz History: Many Sounds, Many Voices


This course will examine the musical, historical, and cultural aspects of jazz throughout its entire history, looking at the 20th century as the breeding ground for jazz in America and beyond. During this more than one hundred year period, jazz morphed and fractured into many different styles and voices, all of which will be considered. In addition to the readings, the course will place an emphasis on listening to jazz recordings, and developing an analytical language to understand these recordings. A central goal is to understand where jazz was, is, and will be in the future, examining the musicians and the music that has kept jazz alive.

Matthew D. Clayton & Sarah Town

POL 344, AAS 344 (HA)

Race and Politics in the United States


This course examines intersectionality's roots as a political intervention growing out of & based in movement politics. It begins with early articulations of intersectional perspectives on the part of Black feminists & feminists of color, emphasizing its movement roots. We then examine empirical research about social movements & political activism, focusing on scholarship that considers both the potential of & 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, & the carceral state.

LaFleur Stephens-Dougan

POL 492, HUM 492, AAS 491, AMS 492 (HA)

The Politics of Race and Credit in America


This course engages theoretical and empirical work about interest groups and social movements in American politics and policy-making. We examine theories of interest group and social movement formation, maintenance and decline; how interest groups and social movements attempt to influence public policy; the impact of interest groups and social movements; lobbying; the relationships between interest groups and the three branches of the federal government; interest groups, elections, campaign finance, and the effectiveness of interest groups and social movements as agents of democratic representation, particularly for marginalized groups.

Stefan Eich

POL 543, GSS 543, AAS 543 (HA)

Interest Groups and Social Movements in American Politics and Policy


This course engages theoretical and empirical work about interest groups and social movements in American politics and policy-making. We examine theories of interest group and social movement formation, maintenance and decline; how interest groups and social movements attempt to influence public policy; the impact of interest groups and social movements; lobbying; the relationships between interest groups and the three branches of the federal government; interest groups, elections, campaign finance, and the effectiveness of interest groups and social movements as agents of democratic representation, particularly for marginalized groups.

Dara Z. Strolovitch

SPA 377, AAS 374, AMS 377, GSS 372 (SA)

Transnational Feminisms


Transnational feminist approaches to globalization, race, sexuality, diaspora and nationalisms from Latinx, Black, and Asian American perspectives. Through different methodologies and interdisciplinary approaches to feminism, we will explore issues of women's and LGBTQIA rights, gender equality, globalization, capitalism, and contemporary debates around race and sexuality.

Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús

SPA 556, AAS 554 

Slavery, Anti-Slavery, and Post-Slavery in the Iberian Atlantic

This course introduces students to important texts from the immense body of scholarship on slavery, anti-slavery movements, and post-emancipation culture in the Iberian Atlantic world, focusing primarily on the "slave societies" of 19th-century Cuba and Brazil and their connections to the greater Caribbean. Grounded in historiography, the course includes literature, court documents, visual culture, studies of post-emancipation movements, theories from the black radical tradition, and films about Latin American slavery. Sub-topics include insurrections, autobiography, religion, the role of translators, conucos/provision grounds, fashion.

Rachel L. Price

WWS 331, SOC 312, AAS 317 (SA)

Race and Public Policy


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.

Douglas S. Massey