Fall 2021 Courses

Core Courses

AAS 244/ART 262 (CD or LA)

NEW! Introduction To Pre-20th Century Black Diaspora Art 

AAS Subfield(s): AACL, GRE

This course focuses on the networks, imaginaries, and lives inhabited by Black artists, makers, and subjects from the 18th through 19th centuries. It revolves around the Caribbean (particularly the Anglophone Caribbean), North America, and Europe. We will reflect on how pre-20th century Black artists are written into history or written out of it. We will explore these artists' aesthetic innovation and the visionary worlds they created and examine their travels, their writings, along with the social worlds and communities they formed. The course incorporates lectures and readings and, if possible, museum visits. [This course fulfills the pre-20th century core survey requirement for concentrators. This course fulfills the core survey requirement for certificate students.]

Anna Arabindan-Kesson

AAS 245/ART 245 (CD or LA)

Introduction To 20th Century African American Art

AAS Subfield(s): AACL

This course surveys the history of African American art during the long 20th-century, from the individual striving of the late 19th century to the unprecedented efflorescence of art and culture in 1920s Harlem; from the retrenchment in Black artistic production during the era of the Great Depression to the rise of racially conscious art inspired by the Civil Rights Movement. From the Black feminist art in the 1970s to the age of American multiculturalism in the 1980s and 1990s. Finally, to the turn of the present century, when ambitious "postblack" artists challenge received notions of Black art and racial subjectivity. [This course fulfills the course survey requirement for concentrators and certificate students]

Chika Okeke-Agulu

AAS 300 (SA)

Junior Seminar: Research And Writing In African American Studies

As a required course for AAS concentrators, this junior seminar introduces students to theories and research design methods in African American Studies. Drawing on a wide-ranging methodological toolkit from the humanities and social sciences, students will learn to reflect on original research's ethical and political dimensions to produce knowledge that is intellectually and socially engaged. This is a writing-intensive seminar with weekly essay assignments. [AAS Juniors Only] 

Reena Goldthree, Naomi Murakawa

AAS 359/ENG 366 (LA)

African American Literature: Harlem Renaissance To The Present

AAS Subfield(s): AACL

A survey of 20th- and 21st-century African American literature, including the tradition's key aesthetic manifestos. Special attention to how modern African American literature fits into specific periods and why certain genre and style innovations emerged when they did. Poetry, essays, novels, popular fiction, stage production or two, and related visual texts. [This course fulfills the course survey requirement for concentrators and certificate students] 

Kinohi Nishikawa

AAS 366/HIS 386 (HA)

African American History To 1863

AAS Subfield(s): AACL

This course explores African American history from the Atlantic slave trade up to the Civil War. It is centrally concerned with the rise and overthrow of human bondage and how it 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, with race, class, gender, region, religion, labor, and resistance animate the course's important themes. [This course fulfills the pre-20th century core survey requirement for concentrators. This course fulfills the core survey requirement for certificate students.] 

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

AAS Undergraduate Courses

AAS 201/PHI 291 (CD or EC)

African American Studies And The Philosophy Of Race

AAS Subfield(s): AACL

This course introduces students to African American Studies by examining the complex experiences, both past, and present, of Americans of African descent. It reveals the complicated ways we come to know and live race in the United States from a multidisciplinary perspective. Students engage classic texts in the field, all of which are framed by a concern with epistemologies of resistance and ignorance that offer insight into African American thought and practice.

Eddie S. Glaude

AAS 303/HUM 314/GSS 406 (HA or SA)

Topics In Global Race And Ethnicity: Scientific Racism Then And Now

AAS Subfield(s): GRE

This course explores the intellectual history of scientific racism, paying close attention to how its theories influence power and institutions today. Reading primary sources from the history of science, each class will trace the reverberations of scientific racism in media, education, politics, law, and global health. Our conversations will consistently analyze the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, age, and disability in the legacies of scientific racism. We will also examine the impact of scientific racism in public discourse about the Black Lives Matter Movement and collectively brainstorm for activism towards restorative justice.

Dannelle Gutarra Cordero

AAS 306/GSS 428 (SA)

Topics In Race And Public Policy: Institutional Anti-Blackness And The Power Of Naming

AAS Subfield(s): GRE, RPP

Who decided which first names are deemed "difficult to pronounce"? Why are the words "fear," "ignorance," "belief," and "guilt" used to normalize racism? Why do history textbooks avoid the use of the word "genocide" when addressing Atlantic slavery? This course explores the recent intellectual history of the role of naming and coded language in institutional anti-Blackness. Each class will analyze how power structures have intentionally erased their histories and contemporary acts of racial oppression through linguistic and epistemic control while also paying close attention to the language of resistance in Black activism.

Dannelle Gutarra Cordero

AAS 331/HIS 382 (CD)

NEW! Beyond Tuskegee: Race And Human Research In U.S. History

AAS Subfield(s): AACL

This course will explore the history of human subjects' research as a scientific practice and how practitioners interpreted the use of living and dead bodies for producing scientific knowledge. It examines how and why certain bodies become eligible for research and experimentation. This course will show how race, class, gender, and disability shape the history of human-subject research and show how human subjects were also deliberately selected from vulnerable populations. It will focus on African Americans' experiences as research subjects and consider other vulnerable populations such as children, the disabled, and the incarcerated.

Ayah Nuriddin

AAS 426/HIS 426 (HA)

Memory, History, and the Archive

AAS Subfield(s): AACL, GRE

Why are some events from the past widely recalled, memorialized, and taught in school, while others are consigned to obscurity? What role do acts of historical erasure play in processes of exclusion? How have acts of remembering figured in struggles for justice? Using historical scholarship: memoirs, visual art, and music, this course examines the relationship between "history" and "memory," focusing on the different ways that race and social power have shaped the relationship in the U.S. and across the African diaspora. We will link representations of the past to debate about issues such as public monuments, legal redress, and reparations.

Joshua B. Guild

Cross-listed Courses

ANT 244/AAS 243 (CD or SA)


AAS Subfield(s): AACL, RPP

This seminar traces the historical roots and growth of the Black Lives Matter social movement in the United States and comparative global contexts. The movement and course are committed to resisting, unveiling, and undoing histories of state sanctioned violence against Black and brown bodies. The course seeks to document the forms of dispossession that Black Americans face, and offers a critical examination of the prison industrial complex, police brutality, urban poverty, and white supremacy in the US.

Hanna Garth

ART 378/AFS 378/AAS 377 (LA)

Post-1945 African Photography

AAS Subfield(s): GRE

This course examines the role and status of photography in different phases of Africa's political, cultural and art historical experience since 1945. We explore how African photographers used the photographic medium in the service of the state, society and their own artistic visions during the colonial and post-independence eras. Photography's relationship with art and its social function in Africa will underlie our discussion.

Chika O. Okeke-Agulu

ART 560/AAS 560

Art and The British Empire

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.

Anna Arabindan-Kesson

COM 373/AAS 383 (EM)

Cinema In Times Of Pandemic: Research Film Studio

AAS Subfield(s): AACL

This course is dedicated to the study of critical film curation. The Pandemic disrupted traditional film production, distribution and canonization. Could this disruption be turned into a creative subversion of the strong industrial and commercial aspect of American filmmaking and the Jim Crow system of Hollywood? In cooperation with the Sundance and the Berlin Film Festivals, we will practice critical curation of films made by women and Afro-American directors and interview filmmakers, film festival directors and leaders of the film industry. Work-products of the class (interviews, reviews, synopses) can be published on our course website.

Erika A. Kiss

DAN 211/AAS 211 (LA)

The American Experience and Dance Practices Of The African Diaspora

AAS Subfield(s): AACL, GRE

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

ENG 573/AAS 573/COM 580

Problems in Literary Study: Black Modernism

A foundational moment in the history of European modernism in the twentieth century was the discovery of the world of Black others and the use of Blackness as a mechanism for maintaining and sustaining a new style of art. At about the same time, Black writers and artists adopted modernism as the aesthetic that would represent Black subjectivity in a world defined by racial violence. This course has two aims: to explore how Black writers and artists in Africa, the Americas, and the Caribbean responded to high modernism's exoticism and to explore how they adopted and transformed the aesthetic ideology of global modernism.
Simon E. Gikandi

FRE 376/AAS 378 (LA)

NEW! Haiti: History, Literature, and Arts Of The First Black Republic

AAS Subfield(s): GRE

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.

F. Nick Nesbitt

GSS 208/AAS 208 (SA)

Media, Sex, and The Racialized Body

AAS Subfield(s): AACL

This course explores the recent intellectual history of media, sex, and the racialized body. We will analyze the representation of the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in film, advertisements, the fashion industry, reality TV, animation, and music videos. This course will also closely examine the predominance of white heteronormativity in film, the representation of gender in K-pop and K-dramas, and the hypersexualization of Blackness and Latinidad in Blaxploitation films and telenovelas.

Dannelle Gutarra Cordero

HIS 388/URB 388/AMS 380/AAS 388 (CD or HA)

Unrest and Renewal in Urban America

AAS Subfield(s): AACL

This course surveys the history of cities in the United States from colonial settlement to the present. Over centuries, cities have symbolized democratic ideals of "melting pots" and cutting-edge innovation, as well as urban crises of disorder, decline, crime, and poverty. Urban life has concentrated extremes like rich and poor; racial and ethnic divides; philanthropy and greed; skyscrapers and parks; violence and hope; downtown and suburb. The course examines how cities in U.S. history have brokered revolution, transformation and renewal, focusing on class, race, gender, immigration, capitalism, and the built environment. 

Alison E. Isenberg

HIS 578/AAS 578

Topics In African Diaspora History: Emancipation, Migration, Decolonization

This readings course considers the dispersals, political movements, cultural production, social bonds, and intellectual labors that together have constituted and continually re-configured the modern African diaspora, from the emergence and collapse of the Atlantic slave system through the late twentieth century. The course tracks the evolution of diaspora as an idea and analytical framework, highlighting its intersections with concepts  of Pan-Africanism, black nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and citizenship.

Joshua B. Guild 

POL 344/AAS 344 (CD or SA)

Race and Politics in the United States

AAS Subfield(s): RPP

This course examines various political controversies that surround the role of race and ethnicity in American society. These controversies and issues affect public opinion, political institutions, political behavior, and salient public policy debates. Thus this course will assess and evaluate the role of race in each of these domains while also examining historical antecedents. The first half of the course will focus on historical antecedents such as the civil rights movement and the Black Power movement. The second half of the course will focus on the role of race in the 2008-2020 presidential elections.

LaFleur Stephens-Dougan

REL 373/AAS 320 (SA)

NEW! Studies In Religion: Spirit Possession In Caribbean Religions

AAS Subfield(s): GRE

This course is designed to explore the possession experiences in Caribbean Religions. Through historical,ethnographic, autobiographical, literary and visual texts this course examines complex, gendered practices within the possession process, the vibrant spiritual energy that sustains communal connections during religious ceremonies, and the transnational imaginations that animate Caribbean religious practices in the Americas. Special attention will be given to Santeria, Candomble, Vodou, Myal, Palo Monte, and Revival Zion in the Americas.

Eziaku Nwokocha

SPI 331/SOC 312/AAS 317/POL 343 (SA)

Race And Public Policy

AAS Subfield(s): RPP

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 institutios since the civil rights era.

Ismail K. White

THR 332/AAS 389/GSS 342/LAO 332 (CD or EM)

Movements for Diversity in American Theater

AAS Subfield(s): AACL

Theater artists routinely bend, twist and break all kinds of rules to create the imaginary worlds they bring to life on stage. Why, then, has the American theater so struggled to meaningfully address questions of equity, diversity and inclusion? In this course, we undertake a critical, creative and historical overview of agitation and advocacy by theater artist-activists aiming to transform American theatre-making as both industry and creative practice, as we connect those histories with the practices, structures and events determining the ways diversity is (and is not) a guiding principle of contemporary American theater.

Brian E. Herrera

THR 355/AAS 399 (HA or LA)

NEW! Illegal Gatherings Act - South African Protest Theatre

AAS Subfield(s): GRE

The South African Anti-Apartheid movement saw mass resistance against the government's racial segregationist policies. Students will learn about the conditions that gave rise to Apartheid and the Anti-Apartheid movement, taking a look at the instrumental role that the performing arts and protest theatre played in dismantling the unjust system. Participants will develop performance work of their own based in South African protest theatre, encouraging a rejection of excess and on seeing obstacles as opportunities. Students will craft original protest theatre works that address sociopolitical concerns of their choosing.

Shariffa Ali

VIS 373/AAS 398/ART 372/GSS 440 (LA)

NEW! Curating Within Obscurity: Research As Exhibition Structure and Form

AAS Subfield(s): AACL

How can posthumous research on a curatorial subject influence the structure and form of an exhibition or a new conceptual artwork? This course retraces the steps taken to produce McClodden's 2015-2019 artistic and curatorial work centering the lives of three Black gay men - poet Essex Hemphill, writer/poet Brad Johnson, and composer Julius Eastman - in order to examine key concepts central to research-based practice. Students will be expected to produce a research/exhibition study of an artist whom they feel has been obscured posthumously.

Tiona Nekkia McClodden