Spring 2021 Courses

Core Courses

AAS 359 / ENG 366 (LA)

African American Literature: Harlem Renaissance to Present


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 certain periods and why certain innovations in genre and style emerged when they did. Poetry, essays, novels, popular fiction, stage production or two, and related visual texts. This course fulfills the core survey requirement for Concentrators and Certificate Students.

Kinohi Nishikawa

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. This course fulfills the pre-20th Century core survey requirement for Concentrators. This course fulfills the course survey requirement for Certificate Students.

Tera W. Hunter


AAS Undergraduate Courses


AAS 230 / ENG 231 (LA)

Topics in African American Studies: 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 a particular consideration given to his critical reflections on race and democracy.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

AAS 301 / SOC 367 (CD or SA)

Black to the Future: Science, Fiction, and Society


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.

Ruha Benjamin

AAS 302 / SOC 303 / ANT 378 / GHP 302 (CD or SA)

Political Bodies: The Social Anatomy of Power & 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 / LAS 363 (HA or SA) 

Topics in Global Race and Ethnicity: From Slave Ship to Cruise Ship: Empire and Resistance in the Caribbean


This course examines the social and political history of the major islands and societies of the Caribbean Sea. The class will examine the historical changes that unfolded between the seventeenth century and the present, including the conquest and expropriation of Native American land by European settlers, the colonization and enslavement of Africans, labor processes in European colonialism, the expansion of imported East and South Asian laborers, emancipation, transnational migration, and anti-colonial movements. The course will also investigate Caribbean productions at the intersections of race, gender, and culture.

Westenley Alcenat

AAS 306 / GSS 428 (SA)

Topics in Race and Public Policy: Institutional Anti-Blackness and the Power of Naming


 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 structures of power 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 313 / HIS 213 / LAS 377 (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 322 / LAS 301 / LAO 322 / AMS 323 (HA)

Afro-Diasporic Dialogues: Black Activism in Latin America and the United States


This course investigates how people of African descent in the Americas have forged social, political, and cultural ties across geopolitical and linguistic boundaries. We will interrogate the transnational dialogue between African Americans and Afro-Latin Americans using case studies from Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. We will explore how Black activists and artists from the US have partnered with people of color in Latin America and the Caribbean to challenge racism and economic inequality, while also considering why efforts to mobilize Afro-descendants across the Americas have often been undermined by mutual misunderstandings.

Reena N. Goldthree

AAS 342 / COM 394 / AFS 342 (LA)

Sisters' Voices: African Women Writers


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.

Wendy L. Belcher

AAS 350 / SOC 362 (HA)

Rats, Riots, and Revolution: Housing in the Metropolitan United States


This class examines the history of urban and suburban housing in the twentieth century US. 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.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

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 teach 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 365 / REL 362 (LA)

Migration and the Literary Imagination


This course will explore the various meanings of The Great Migration and mobility found in 20th century African American literature. Through careful historical and literary analysis, we will examine the significant impact migration has had on African American writers and the ways it has framed their literary representations of modern Black life.

Wallace D. Best

AAS 372 / ART 374 / AMS 372 (CD or 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 O. Okeke-Agulu

AAS 477 / HIS 477 (HA)

The Civil Rights Movement


This course critically examines the development of the southern Civil Rights Movement and the rise of the Black Power insurgency from the end of World War II through the end of the 1960s. We will examine historical research, oral histories, literature, documentaries and other kinds of primary and secondary documentation.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor


AAS 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 engage theories and histories of racial formation, racial capitalism, slavery and empire, social movements, and cultural representation. Particular attention is 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.

Joshua B. Guild

AAS 555 / ENG 536

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 Listing


AMS 351 / GSS 427 / AAS 345 / REL 393 (CD or SA)

Islam in/and America: Race, Religion, and Gender in the United States


What is American Islam and who are U.S. Muslims? This seminar employs lectures, discussions, and a diverse array of texts, including novels, scholarly works, films, arts, music, and much more, to respond to this question, revealing how a focus on Islam and Muslims in the U.S. produces critical counter-narratives of race, religion, and gender in the United States from the colonial era to the present.

Sylvia Chan-Malik 

ANT 223 / AMS 223 / AAS 224 / URB 224 (CD or 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 M. Beliso-De Jesús, Laurence Ralph

ANT 403 / AAS 403 / GHP 403 (CD or EM)

Race and Medicine


Why do certain populations have longer life expectancies? Is it behavior, genes, structural inequalities? And why should the government care? This course unpacks taken-for-granted concepts like race, evidence-based medicine, and even the public health focus on equalizing life expectancies. From questions of racism in the clinic to citizenship and the Affordable Care Act, 'Race and Medicine' takes students on a journey of rethinking what constitutes social justice in health care.

Carolyn M. Rouse

ATL 497 / AAS 497 / VIS 497 (LA)

Princeton Atelier: Visualizing the Battle Cry


Inspired by the experience of Black Civil war soldiers, the visual aesthetics of 19th century posters, and contemporary hip hop, the award-winning writer and historian Imani Perry and the visual artist Mario Moore will collaborate on a groundbreaking new project. Using hip hop to reimagine the soundscape of battle in the mid-1800s, Moore and Perry will negotiate both the historical record and the idea of what might have been. Students will work alongside Moore and Perry in drawing on language, visual prints and audio to make connections between the 19th century and our own revolutionary moment.

Mario Moore, Imani Perry

CHV 385 / AAS 385 (CD or LA) 

The Hidden History of Hollywood - Research Film Studio


This course uncovers the roots of racial injustice in Hollywood; the secret, but cardinal role Woodrow Wilson played in the production and distribution of D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation that led directly to the rebirth of the KKK and increased violence against Afro-Americans; and William Monroe Trotter's fight against the propaganda film. Wilson's policy of segregation was adapted by Hollywood as a self-censoring industry regulation of representation. Black people could only appear on screen as subservient and marginal characters, never as equals, partners or leaders. This code, Wilson's legacy, has become second nature to Hollywood.

Erika A. Kiss

CLA 342 / AAS 356 / HUM 348 (CD or HA)

Race and the Inhumanities


Few technologies of domination have been wielded with more sweeping and devastating global consequences than race. The research and teaching taxonomies of predominantly White institutions such as Princeton bear witness both to this history and to the intricacy of those mechanisms that work to conceal it. Taking our cue from Achille Mbembe - "racial thinking... has been the ever-present shadow hovering over Western political thought and practice" - we'll examine the role of race and racialization in the formation of the intellectual disciplines around which universities like ours are organized, with a particular emphasis on the humanities. 

Tom Davies, Dan-El Padilla Peralta

COM 373 / AAS 383 / AMS 388 (EM)

Cinema in Times of Pandemic: Research Film Studio


In cooperation with the Sundance and the Berlin Film Festivals, our research film studio will study the crisis of film production, distribution and canonization made acute by the Pandemic. We will learn about the institutions of film curation and canon formation and the various genres of film reviewing and film criticism from blogging to scholarly papers. The seminar work will consist of short digital presentations engaging with contemporary films directed mainly by women and Afro-American artists and Zoom interviews with critically acclaimed filmmakers, a famous film critic and leaders of the film industry and Film Festivals.

Erika A. Kiss

DAN 211 / AAS 211 (LA)

The American Experience and Dance Practices of the African Diaspora


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

ENG 556 / AAS 558 / GSS 556 / HUM 556

African American Literature : Reading Late 19th Century African American Literature Now

What does it mean to read late-19th Century African American literature now? What critical questions does it answer, what methodological approaches does it demand, and what does it mean to ethically encounter the archive of postbellum Black life and literature? We approach these questions by pairing deep readings of African American literature from the late 19th century with criticism that takes the period as its starting point. We read canonical and lesser known texts as sites from which race, freedom, aesthetics, performance, and the archive itself are being theorized, while also exploring how those very ideas might instruct us now.

Autumn M. Womack

GSS 208 / AAS 208 (SA)

Media, Sex, and the Racialized Body


This course explores the 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 closely examine the predominance of white heteronormativity in media, the representation of gender in K-pop and K-dramas, the media conceptualization of the "intimacy of the Arab woman," and the sexualization of Blackness and Latinx bodies in blaxploitation films and telenovelas.

Dannelle Gutarra Cordero

GSS 218 / AAS 218 (HA or SA)

The Racialization of Beauty


This course explores the intellectual history of the racialization of beauty. We will begin by analyzing how the history of Atlantic slavery and scientific racism set precedents for the contemporary dominant conceptualization of beauty in the body, art, and nature. Students will then concentrate on the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in beauty pageants, advertising, and the plastic surgery industry. This course will also closely examine racialized fat phobia, the racial politics of hair, transnational colorism, and racialized exploitation in beauty service work.

Dannelle Gutarra Cordero

GSS 345 / AAS 355 / AMS 373 (EM)

Pleasure, Power and Profit: Race and Sexualities in a Global Era


Pleasure Power and Profit explores the intimate ways that sexualities and race are entwined in contemporary culture, historically, and in our own lives. Why are questions about sexuality and race some of the most controversial, compelling, yet often taboo issues of our time? Exploring films, popular culture, novels, social media, and theory, we engage themes like: race, gender and empire; fetishism, Barbie, vampires and zombies; sex work and pornography; marriage and monogamy; queer sexualities; and strategies for social empowerment such as: Black Lives Matter, the new campus feminism, and global movements against sexual and gender violence.

Anne McClintock

GSS 543 / POL 543 / AAS 543

Interest Groups and Social Movements in American Politics and Policy

This course engages theoretical and empirical work about interest groups and social movements in U.S. politics and policy-making. We examine theories of interest group and social movement formation, maintenance, and decline; how interest groups and social movements try to influence politics and public policy; interactions between interest groups and the three branches of the federal government; lobbying, elections, and campaign finance; and the effectiveness of interest groups and movements as agents of democratic representation, particularly for marginalized groups such as women, people of colour, low-income people, and LGBTQ people.

Dara Z. Strolovitch

HIS 333 / LAS 373 / AAS 335 (HA)

Modern Brazilian History


This course examines the history of modern Brazil from its independence in the 1820s to the present day. The lectures, readings, and discussions chart conflict, change, and continuity within Brazilian society, highlighting the role played by disenfranchised social actors in shaping the country's history. Topics include the meanings of political citizenship; slavery and abolition; race relations; indigenous populations; uneven economic development as well as Brazil's experiences with authoritarianism and globalization.

Isadora M. Mota

JRN 448 / AAS 448 (SA)

The Media and Social Issues: Reporting on Policing, Race and Inequality


Reporting on issues of policing, race and inequality in society today is critically important, but the challenges that reporters face in doing so are very real. How do journalists drop into neighborhoods they know little about, or write about topics of which they have no firsthand knowledge? What happens when their lived experiences add depth and texture to a story, but draw critiques of bias? In this seminar, students will examine how journalists cover difficult social issues playing out in the news through four emphases: sourcing, reporting, writing and presentation. The class will produce original journalism that adds to the discourse.

Kimbriell R. Kelly

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

POL 344 / AAS 344 (SA)

Race and Politics in the United States


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 nature of contemporary racial attitudes, in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential elections.

Ismail K. White

REL 377 / AAS 376 / AMS 378 (CD or SA)

Race and Religion in America


In this seminar we examine the tangled and shifting relationship between religion and race in American history. In doing so, we explore a broad landscape of racial construction, identity, and experience and consider such topics as American interpretations of race in the Bible, religion and racial slavery, race and missions, religion, race, and science, popular culture representations of racialized religion, and religiously-grounded resistance to racial hierarchy.

Judith Weisenfeld

SPI 345 / PSY 384 / AAS 384 (EC)

Prejudice: Its Causes, Consequences, and Cures


Prejudice is one of the most contentious topics in modern American society. There is debate regarding its causes, pervasiveness, and impact. This goal of this course is to familiarize students with the psychological research relevant to these questions. We will review theoretical perspectives on prejudice to develop an understanding of its cognitive, affective, and motivational underpinnings. We will also discuss how these psychological biases relate to evaluations of, and behavior toward, members of targeted groups. In addition, research-based strategies for reducing prejudice will be discussed.

Stacey A. Sinclair