African American Culture and Life (AACL) Subfield

In this track, students encounter the theoretical canon and keywords, which shape the contemporary discipline of African American Studies. Accessing a range of interdisciplinary areas, situated primarily in the United States, students will learn to take a critical posture in examining the patterns and practices that order and transform black subjects and black life.

 

AAS 201

Introduction to the Study of African American Cultural Practices

As the introductory course required to concentrate or 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 and help redefine what it means to be American, new world, modern and post modern .

Naomi Murakawa


AAS 201

Introduction to the Study of African American Cultural Practices

As the introductory course required to concentrate or 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 and help redefine what it means to be American, new world, modern and post modern .

Naomi Murakawa


AAS 202, SOC 202

Introductory Research Methods in African American Studies

The purposes of this course are to assist the student in developing the ability to critically evaluate social science research on the black experience and to do research in African studies. To accomplish these goals, the course will acquaint students with the processes of conceptualization and basic research techniques, and some of the unique issues in conducting research on the black experience. A variety of appropriate studies will be utilized.

Howard Taylor


AAS 210, MUS 253

Introduction to African American Music

What is African-American music? Is it a set of genres, sound characteristics, or musical approaches? Is it based on who creates, or who receives the music? How has an African-American musical tradition undergone continual re-definition, and how might we understand these developments within a historical context? This course will address these questions by studying African-American music from a variety of perspectives, drawing from historical and critical readings, and sound and visual media.

Courtney Bryan


AAS 212, ENG 212

What's So Funny? Forms of African American Humor

This course examines resources for and strategies of African American humor from the early twentieth century to the present. We will survey a wide range of cultural expression, including folk poems, literary satire, and stand-up comedy, and we will consider the historical circumstances under which African American humor has flourished. Supplemental reading in the philosophy of comedy will allow us to reflect on the cognitive and affective pleasure that is realized in laughter.

Kinohi Nishikawa


AAS 230, ENG 231

Topics in African American Studies

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.

Eddie Glaude


AAS 235, SOC 236

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 242, ENG 242, GSS 242, LAS 242

Other Futures: An Introduction to Modern Caribbean Literature

This course introduces students to major theories and debates within the study of Caribbean literature and culture with a particular focus on the idea of catastrophe. Reading novels and poetry that address the historical loss and injustices that have given shape to the modern Caribbean, we will explore questions of race, gender, and sexuality and pay considerable attention to the figure of the black body caught in the crosscurrents of a catastrophic history. We will analyze how writers and artists attempted to construct alternative images of the future from the histories of slavery and colonialism that haunt the Caribbean and its diasporas.

Nijah Cunningham


AAS 245, ART 245

Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movements

This course surveys important moments in 20th-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.

Chika O. Okeke-Agulu


AAS 274, COM 274

Growing up Global: Novels and Memoirs of Transnational Childhoods

What if the real answer to the question "Where are you from?" or "Where did you grow up?" is so complicated that you tend to give a convenient rather than honest answer? This course will explore narratives of youthful cultural and linguistic adaptation by those who have spent their childhood crossing national boundaries. Among the topics of discussion are how the narrators construct meaningful identities and produce a sense of belonging or alienation through narrative.

Wendy Laura Belcher


AAS 301, SOC 367

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 305, REL 391, MUS 354, AMS 355

The History of Black Gospel Music

This course will trace the history of black gospel music from its origins in the American South, to its modern origins in 1930s Chicago, and into the 1990s mainstream. Critically analyzing various compositions and the artists that performed them, we will explore the ways the music has reflected and reproached the extant cultural climate. We will be particularly concerned with the four major historical eras from which black gospel music developed: the slave era; Reconstruction; the Great Migration, and the era of Civil Rights.

Wallace D. Best


AAS 314, COM 396

Model Memoirs: The Life Stories of International Fashion Models

Explores the life-writing of American, African, and Asian women in the fashion industry as a launching point for thinking about race, gender, and class. How do ethnicity and femininity intersect? How are authenticity and difference commodified? How do women construct identities through narrative and negotiate their relationships to their bodies, families, and nations? Includes guest lectures by fashion editors and models; discussions of contemporary television programs, global fashion, and cultural studies; and student self-narratives about their relationships with cultural standards of beauty, whether vexed or not.

Imani Perry


AAS 318, REL 318

Black Women and Spiritual Narrative

Analyzes narrative accounts of African American women since the 19th century. Drawing on the hypothesis that religious metaphor and symbolism have figured prominently in black women's writing--and writing about black women--across literary genres, the class explores 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. Students will discuss themes, institutions, and structures that have traditionally shaped black women's experiences, as well as theologies black women have developed in response.

Wallace D. Best


AAS 320, ENG 363, AMS 384

Islands In The Sun: Caribbean Literature

From the "Chigro" henchmen of James Bond's Jamaica to Edwidge Danticat and Junot Diaz's Haitian, Dominican Caribbean collusion, to the ethics of all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and offshore banking, this seminar explores the islands through their literature, films, photography, and the music of Mighty Sparrow and Bob Marley. More than simply a vacation paradise, at the center of the Caribbean is the legacy of European colonialism, African enslavement, and Indian and Chinese indenture. Students will produce a seminar soundtrack, selecting relevant songs each week, which will be mixed into a collective track as part of the final.

Taigh Leigh Goffe


AAS 321, REL 321

Black Power and its Theology of Liberation

This course examines the various pieties of the Black Power era. We chart the explicit and implicit utopian visions of the politics of the period that, at once, criticized established black religious institutions and articulated alternative ways of imagining salvation. We also explore the attempt by black theologians to translate the prophetic black church tradition into the idiom of black power. Our aim is to keep in view the significance of the Black Power era for understanding the changing role and place of black religion in black public life.

Eddie Glaude


AAS 323, AMS 321

Diversity in Black America

As the demographics of Blacks in America change, we are compelled to rethink the dominant stories of who African Americans are, and from whence they come. The seminar explores the deep cultural, genealogical, national origin, regional, and class-based diversity of people of African descent in the United States.

Imani Perry


AAS 325, ENG 393, REL 366

African American Autobiography

Highlights the autobiographical tradition of African Americans from the antebellum period to the present as symbolic representations of African American material, social, and intellectual history and as narrative quests of self-development. Students will be introduced to basic methods of literary analysis and criticism, specifically focusing on cultural criticism and psychoanalytic theory on the constructed self.

Albert Raboteau


AAS 327, ENG 379, GSS 368

Masters of the 20th Century: Lorraine Hansberry

This special topics course will focus on artists and intellectuals whose corpus reflects and illuminates 20th century African American life. Lorraine Hansberry, the first African American female playwright to have a play open on Broadway, explored a series of critical themes in her work, including: race, migration, colonialism, gender and social class. In addition to having a distinguished career as a playwright, Hansberry was an activist and advocate for gender and racial justice. Students will study her published and unpublished plays, essays and poetry, as well as relevant social and cultural history and literary criticism.

Imani Perry


AAS 330, HIS 455

Black Metropolis: African American Urban History

In this seminar, we will examine historically the transformation of African Americans from a population rooted in the rural South to one overwhelmingly located in the cities of the North and West. Beginning in the period following the Civil War, and spanning the course of the twentieth century, we will explore critically the impact of urbanization on African American social relations, political expression, family life, and cultural production. Throughout the course we will be concerned not only with the "where" and "who" of the migration narrative, but the "how" and the "why" as well.

Joshua Guild


AAS 332, REL 332

The Nation of Islam in America

This course will explore the various meanings attributed to Nation of Islam (NOI) cultural and religious practices. Of particular concern will be the ways in which the NOI¿s ideological structure has allowed it to function both as a "black nationalist" and religious body. Students will spend time examining the lives of such figures as Wallace D. Fard, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Louis Farrahkan. Other themes covered include: women and the NOI, the return to Orthodoxy, the NOI and black Christianity, and the NOI and political power. Two lectures, one preceptorial.

Wallace D. Best


AAS 345, ENG 358

Sonic Fugitives: The Soundscapes of the African-American Literary Tradition

This course will explore the rich interplay between sound and literature in nineteenth and twentieth-century African-American letters. Historically denied the right to literacy and education, African-Americans have utilized sound, primarily in the form of music and orature, as a mode of protest and an expression of freedom, subjectivity, citizenship, and national belonging. In this course we will explore the ways in which African-American writers have drawn on this rich sonic tradition to make political claims about race, gender, class, region, nation, and cultural identity.

Jarvis McInnis


AAS 347, VIS 337

Art School @ African American Studies: Process, Discourse, Infrastructure

Combining actual making with art criticism and an examination of the circulation of contemporary art, particularly the of work of black artists, this seminar is structured around fundamental art concepts such as line, color, illustration, abstraction, multiples, beauty, and meaning. Given the historical centrality in African American art of representations of black bodies, the course pays special attention to figuration and portraiture. Its aim is not to make skilled artists, but to provide a materials-based, tactile experience of art-making and its evaluation.

Nell Painter


AAS 348

Black Popular Music Culture

An introduction to major historical, theoretical, performative, and aesthetic movements and trends in black popular music culture from the 19th century through the present day.

Joshua Guild


AAS 349, ART 364

Seeing To Remember: Representing Slavery Across the Black Atlantic

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

Anna Arabindan-Kesson


AAS 351, GSS 351

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 353, ENG 353

African American Literature: Origins to 1910

This introductory course focuses on black literature and literary culture from the mid-18th century to the early 20th; 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.

Autumn M. Womack


AAS 358, REL 379, GSS 359

Sexuality and Religion in America

Sexuality has long been a contested and contentious issue within American religions, yet only recently have scholars and practitioners begun to forthrightly address it. This course will explore the emerging literature on sexuality and religion as a way to understand how approaches to sex and sexuality within "sacred spaces" have shaped private behavior and public opinion. We will give particular attention to American Evangelical and Catholic religious expressions for the way they have been especially influential in framing (and inhibiting) sexual discourse and practices in the US and throughout the world.

Wallace D. Best


AAS 359, ENG 366

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.

Kinohi Nishikawa


AAS 362, WWS 497, POL 338

Race and the American Legal Process: Emancipation to the Voting Rights Act

This course examines the dynamic and often conflicted relationships between African American struggles for inclusion, and the legislative, administrative, and judicial decision-making responding to or rejecting those struggles, from Reconstruction to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. In tracing these relationships we will cover issues such as property, criminal law, suffrage, education, and immigration, with a focus on the following theoretical frameworks: equal protection, due process, civic participation and engagement, and political recognition.

Imani Perry


AAS 363, ENG 439, AMS 362

Blackness and Media

Working across a range of sites (film, photography, literature, newsprint, music) this course thinks critically about media, blackness, and social life. In the service of expanding our conceptions of media, we will draw together unlikely titles and works from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. How, we will ask, has media has been the site where blackness gets communicated, created, negotiated, and re-imagined? How does blackness operate as both a media and medium? And, how do black writers, thinkers, and artists negotiate the formal limits of media, and what might this reveal about black aesthetics?

Autumn M. Womack


AAS 365, REL 362, ENG 394

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 366, HIS 386

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.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor


AAS 367, HIS 387

African American History Since Emancipation

Offers an introduction to the major themes, critical questions, and pivotal moments in post emancipation African American history. Traces the social, political, cultural, intellectual, and legal contours of the black experience in the United States from Reconstruction to the rise of Jim Crow, through the World Wars, Depression, and the Great Migrations, to the long civil rights era and the contemporary period of racial politics. Using a wide variety of texts, images, and creative works, the course situates African American history within broader national and international contexts.

Joshua Guild


AAS 368, REL 368, POL 424

Topics in African American Religion: Black Religion and the Harlem Renaissance

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."

Wallace D. Best


AAS 372, ART 374, AMS 372

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 375, PSY 375

Social Stigma: On Being a Target of Prejudice

Individuals subject to social stigma possess, or are believed to posses, an attribute that marks them as members of a group that is devalued within a particular social context. In this course we will attempt to understand the psychological impact of being stigmatized by reading and discussing social psychological research and theories that illustrate central ideas and debates on this topic. Specifically, we will examine how social stigma affects academic performance, health, interpersonal interactions and self-understanding, as well as how people cope with stigma.

Stacey Sinclair


AAS 386, AMS 386

Race and the City

Race and the City examines how the politics of race and racialization shaped the development of American cities over the course of the 20th century. The course cover a diverse array of topics including: ghettoization, urban renewal, the creation of public housing, popular music (Jazz, Motown, Hip Hop), public art and graffiti, literature of urbanity, the fair housing movement, deindustrialization and gentrification. We will have particular foci on the following cities: Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

Imani Perry


AAS 392, AAS 392

Topics in African American Literature

A historical overview of black literary expression from the 19th century to present day. Will emphasize a critical and analytical approach to considering the social, cultural, and political dimensions of African American literature.

Nijah Cunningham


AAS 477, HIS 477

The Civil Rights Movement

This interdisciplinary course examines the evolution of African American social and political mobilization from World War II through the 1970s. Through an analysis of historical scholarship, oral history, sermons, works of literature, film and music, it explores the various ways that African Americans articulated their political demands and affirmed their citizenship using the church, grassroots organizations, workers' rights, feminism, education, war, the federal bureaucracy, and the law as tools for political action. The course also considers the ways these movements have been remembered, memorialized, and appropriated in more recent times.

Joshua Guild


AAS 481, ENG 429

The African American Atlantic: Modernity and the Black Experience

Examines the formation and transformation of the Black Atlantic World from the 18th century to the present. Through an examination of a range of literary texts, historical documents, and visual media, the course will consider how the Atlantic Ocean, often associated with the violence and pain of slavery, also became the stage in which new black identities were constructed. How did blacks in the new world imagine themselves as modern subjects? How have African, African American, and Caribbean writers and intellectuals imagined global citizenship? There will be a visit to Ghana during the spring break.

Simon Gikandi


AAS 499, ENG 499, AMS 499

Theoretical Approaches in Black Studies

This course stages a critical survey of key theoretical approaches and debates that have shaped the contemporary discourse of black studies. We will read recent works by scholars who take up what is casually referred to as “the study of blackness” from different vantage points such as black feminist theory, postcolonial criticism, afro-pessimism, queer-of- color critique, and black radicalism. The course particularly focuses on the question of criticism as it emerges within this discursive field and demonstrates how topics like the archive, citationality, and style provide alternate ways of thinking theory and the project of black studies.

Nijah Cunningham


AMS 315, AAS 309, MTD 315, THR 344

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 342, HIS 442

Race, Racism and Politics in Twentieth-Century America

In this seminar, we will explore the relationship between race, racism and politics throughout twentieth-century America. Topics will include segregation; immigration and assimilation; the role of racial politics in World War II and the Cold War; the civil rights movement and white massive resistance; Black Power and the white backlash; and contemporary politics up to the election of Barack Obama.

Kevin Kruse


AMS 360, AAS 360

Afro-Asian Masculinities

This course undertakes a comparative, cross-cultural analysis of African American and Asian American social formations. In doing so, it aims to highlight when and how seemingly distinct racial and ethnic experiences have come together on matters of labor, citizenship, international politics, and especially gender and sexual ideology. It attends to cross-cultural dialogue as well: for example, in the martial arts (Bruce Lee) and hip hop (Wu-Tang Clan). The course offers a unique opportunity to bring ethnic studies, black studies, and gender studies into dynamic conversation.

Kinohi Nishikawa


AMS 395, THR 395, AAS 395, HIS 296

Performing the City: Race and Protest in 1960s Trenton and Princeton

Through original research and creative process, this seminar immerses students in overlapping histories of race, protest, political mobilization and violence in 1960s Trenton and Princeton. Students will contribute to an archive, conduct interviews and make maps, and then use their research to create performance walks on campus and in Trenton. By combining disciplines, the course addresses questions such as: How can we change a place by walking through it with new knowledge? How do the imprints of various, even conflicting histories, impact the built environment? After the semester, students' final project tours will be offered regularly.

Alison E. Isenberg, Aaron Landsman


ANT 210

Cross-Cultural Explorations of Gender in Film and Ethnographic Texts

Through visual and written ethnographies, this course will explore cross-cultural conceptions of gender. Specifically, this course will address the relationship between religion, sexuality, and social reproduction; and the salience of gender to issues of oppression, empowerment, and social change.

Carolyn Rouse


ANT 301

The Ethnographer’s Craft

What are social and cultural facts? And how do we identify these facts using anthropological research methods? This field methods course is for students interested in learning how to work with complex and often contradictory qualitative data. Students will examine how biases and beliefs affect the questions we ask, the data we collect, and our interpretations. Key topics include objectivism, interpretation, reflexivity, participant-observation, translation, and comparison.

Carolyn Rouse


ANT 304

Political Anthropology

A cross-cultural examination of collective action, power, authority and legitimacy. Topics will include the diversity of systems of leadership and decision making, the sociocultural contexts of egalitarianism and hierarchy, contemporary contests over power-sharing and state legitimacy, forms of power outside the state, and human rights struggles.

Bridget Purcell


ANT 389, AAS 333, AMS 339

Religion and Culture: Muslims in America

This course is an introduction to Muslim cultures in the United States. Each week we will draw upon 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 of the course provides a survey of Muslim communities in this country from the 17th to the 21st centuries. The second half features a thematic approach to a variety of topics: 9/11, women and gender, religious conversion, interfaith relations, youth, mosques as institutions, and Islamophobia.

Aly Kassam-Remtulla


ART 242, ARC 242

The Experience of Modernity: A Survey of Modern Architecture in the West

An analysis of the emergence of modern architecture from the late 19th century to World War II, in light of new methodologies. The course will focus not only on major monuments but also on issues of gender, class, and ethnicity to provide a more pluralistic perspective on the experience of modernity. For department majors, this course satisfies the Group 3 distribution requirement.

Esther da Costa Meyer


ART 261, AAS 261, AFS 261

Art and Politics in Postcolonial Africa

This seminar examines the impact of the IMF's Structural Adjustment Program, military dictatorships, and political crises on artistic production in the 1980s, and the dramatic movement of African artists from the margins of the international art world to its very center since the 1990s. How familiar or different are the works and concerns of African artists? What are the consequences, in Africa and the West, of the international success of a few African artists? And what does the work of these Africans at home and in the West tell us about the sociopolitical conditions of our world today?

Chika O. Okeke-Agulu


ART 373, AAS 373

History of African American Art

An introduction to the history of African American art and visual culture from the colonial period to the present. Artists and works of art will be considered in terms of their social, intellectual, and historical contexts. Students will consider artistic practices as they intersect with other cultural spheres, including science, politics, religion, and literature. Topics and readings will be drawn from the field of art history as well as from cultural studies, critical race theory, and the history of the Atlantic world.

Anna Arabindan-Kesson


ART 462, AAS 462

Representing Race in American Art

This seminar explores how the complex and contested concept of "race" intersects with the categories of "art" and "visual culture" in the history of the United States (colonial era to the present). By examining the work of a range of artists and image-makers, we will explore how the concept of "race" is imagined, constructed, used, and/or challenged by artists and audiences as well as the manner in which the discipline of art history approaches considerations of race and racial/ethnic identity. Our approach will be thematic rather than chronological; material studied will include painting, sculpture, photography, performance, and film.

Rachael DeLue


CLA 310, AAS 311

Citizenships Ancient and Modern

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?

Dan-El Padilla Peralta


COM 376, AAS 371, GSS 381

Crafting Freedom: Women and Liberation in the Americas (1960s to the present)

This course aims to explore different forms that the question of liberation has taken 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 1960s, we will go through the limits and potentialities of texts that have built a poetics and politics of liberation, paying special attention to the role played by language and imagination when ideas translate onto social movements -and vice-versa. Focusing on four concepts -abolition, education, care, and the commons- the course touches upon key moments that have shaped women's struggles (intersectionality, black, third world, postcolonial, and decolonial 'feminisms'). Readings include Angela Davis, Gloria Anzaldúa, Silvia Federici, Diamela Eltit, Audre Lorde, Fernanda Navarro, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Gayatri Spivak, Zapatista among others.

Susana Draper


CWR 316, LAO 316, AAS 336, AMS 396

Special Topic in Poetry: Race, Identity, and Innovation

This workshop explores the link between racial identity and poetic innovation in work by contemporary poets of color. Experimental or avant-garde poetry in the American literary tradition has often defined itself as "impersonal," "against expression" or "post-identity." Unfortunately, this mindset has tended to exclude or downplay poems that engage issues of racial identity. This course explores works where poets of color have treated racial identity as a means to destabilize literary ideals of beauty, mastery and the autonomy of the text while at the same time engaging in poetic practices that subvert conceptions of identity or authenticity.

Monica Y. Youn


DAN 211, AAS 211

The American Dance Experience and Africanist Dance Practices

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

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 223, AAS 223, VIS 224

An Introduction to the Radical Imagination

Using an interdisciplinary visual and performance studies approach to explore various sites of contemporary art practices, this course will provide an introduction to radical performance practices through which artists consider the gendered and racialized body that circulates in the public domain, both onstage and off. We will query the kinds of political questions that performers raise with their work. Our texts will include live and recorded performances, as well as historical and theoretical secondary sources. Every other week the class hosts a public performance/speaking series featuring radical artists and curators.

Jaamil O. Kosoko


DAN 322, AAS 312

Special Topics in Urban Dance: Improvisational Approaches to Hip-Hop Practices

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.

Raphael X. Williams


ENG 379, AAS 379, AMS 389, ART 380

Black Aesthetics: Art, Literature, and Politics in the African Diaspora

This course introduces students to black aesthetics as a historically grounded concept that stages questions of the social, cultural, political and philosophical meaning of blackness. We'll explore various 'flashpoints' during the 20th century where black art serves both as a site of contestation and a platform for interrogating topics of race, gender, sexuality, the body, objecthood, slavery and colonialism. We'll consider how various generations of black artists/intellectuals across the African diaspora turned to the aesthetic realm to imagine new political possibilities and generate different ways of seeing, feeling, sensing, and thinking.

Nijah Cunningham


ENG 391A, AAS 391

Experimenting in Dark Times 19th Century African American Literature and Culture

This interdisciplinary course explores the intersecting worlds of late 19th century African American literature, technology, aesthetics, and politics. Although this period is commonly theorized as the "Nadir," or "dark point," of Black life, it was in fact a moment of artistic and social experimentation, as black artists and intellectuals traversed a range of media to imagine new futures. We will investigate this overlooked cultural moment and develop an understanding of black experimental writing's roots. In design studio, students will design historically experimental urban projects around the text's investigated in the weekly seminar.

Autumn Womack, V. Mitch McEwen


ENG 397, AAS 397, COM 339

New Diasporas

This course will explore the works of contemporary authors of the African and Caribbean diaspora in Europe and North America in relation to the changing historical and cultural context of migration and globalization. The course will consider how these writers have represented the process of relocation, acculturation, and the transnational moment. What is the role of the imagination in the rethinking of identities lived across boundaries? Why and how do these authors use the term diaspora to describe their experiences? How do the works of a new generation of writers from Africa and the Caribbean transform theories of globalization?

Simon Gikandi


ENV 325, AAS 326

The Perpetual Plantation: Race, Environment, Resistance

What is environmental racism? What is environmental justice? This course will explore those questions, focusing on the plantation as a key site for understanding the complex relationship between race and the environment in the U.S. and in other global contexts. We will trace the environmental legacies of the plantation through literature, film, and popular media from the eighteenth century to the present day, and will also examine histories of resistance in and against plantation geographies, from the antebellum cotton plantation to the contemporary prison complex.

Britt Rusert


HIS 376

The American Civil War and Reconstruction

Surveys the causes, issues, and consequences of the nation's bloodiest conflict. Topics include slavery and antislavery, Manifest Destiny, the growing sectional conflict, the clash of arms, the transforming impact of the Civil War, the transition from slave to free labor in the South, and postslavery race relations.

Matthew Karp


HIS 390, AAS 394, GSS 390

African American Women's History

This is a lecture course that explores the role and impact of African American women in U.S. history, beginning with the era of the Atlantic slave trade and proceeding up to the 21st century. It will address broad themes such as labor, family, community, sexuality, politics, popular culture, and religion. It will examine the social, political, cultural, and economic diversity of black women. Students will engage primary and secondary texts, as well as audio and visual material. The course will enhance critical thinking and writing skills.

Tera Hunter


HIS 402, AAS 402, AMS 412

Princeton and Slavery

Research seminar focused on Princeton University's historical connections to the institution of slavery. The class will work toward creating a report that details the slave-holding practices of Princeton faculty and students, examines campus debates about slavery, and investigates whether money derived from slave labor contributed to the early growth of the school. Class will meet in Mudd Library.

Martha Sandweiss


HIS 426, AAS 426

Memory, History, and the African Diaspora

This course uses historical scholarship, memoir, visual art, fiction and music to examine the relationship between "history" and "memory" and the different ways that race and social power have shaped that relationship in the U.S. and across the African diaspora. It considers the role played by acts of remembering in struggles for justice and self-determination, as well as the place of forgetting and erasure in processes of exclusion. We will link representations of the black past to debates on such issues as public memorials, legal justice, reparations, and affirmative action.

Joshua Guild


HIS 456, AAS 456, URB 456, HUM 456

New Orleans at 300: Invention and Reinvention in an American City

As it commemorates its tercentennial, this course explores the history of what has been described as an "impossible but inevitable city" over three centuries. Settled on perpetually shifting swampland at the foot of one of the world's great waterways, this port city served as an outpost of three empires and a gateway linking the N. American heartland with the Gulf Coast, Caribbean, and Atlantic World. From European and African settlement through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we will consider how race, culture, and the environment have defined the history of the city and its people.

Joshua Guild


HIS 485, AAS 409

History of African American Families

This course covers the history of African American families. It traces the development of family life, meanings, values, and institutions from the period of slavery up to recent times. The course engages long-standing and current debates about black families in the scholarship across disciplines and in the society at large. The course will look at the diversity of black family arrangements and the way these have changed over time and adapted to internal and external challenges and demands. It will also situate the history of black families within a broader cross-cultural context.

Tera Hunter


LAS 371, SPA 372, AAS 374

Cuban History, Politics and Culture

This seminar constitutes an introduction to the study of Cuba from a historical perspective. During the first half of the semester the course follows a chronological approach, covering the political and socioeconomic development of the country from the sixteenth century to the present. In the second half of the semester, it examines a series of sociocultural issues that are central to the life of contemporary Cubans, on the island and abroad. At the core of the class lies an interrogation of the relevance of the Cuban case for larger discussions on colonialism, modernity, socialism and development.

Adrian Lopez-Denis 


LCA 213, AAS 213, HUM 213, ENG 213

The Lucid Black and Proud Musicality of Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka

This class will focus on the career-long writing about jazz, blues, rock and R&B of Amiri Baraka (nee Leroi Jones) and the significant impact it has had on cultural politics, scholarship and esthetics from the early 1960s to the present. Baraka's work as an activist and his gifts as a poet/novelist/playwright/political essayist allowed him to inject considerable lyricism, eloquence, learning and passion into the previously moribund fields of African American music history and journalism. His music writing also affected the tenor of future public advocacy for jazz via the NEA 's Jazz Masters awards and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

Gregory Tate


MUS 214

Projects in Vocal Performance: The Development of the African American Art Song

The class will be a survey of the development of classical African American art song. Students will attend a 3 hr. class. Lecture and song preparation for final recital.

Rochelle K. Ellis 


MUS 262, AAS 262

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 Clayton


MUS 264

Urban Blues and the Golden Age of Rock

Examines post-World War II blues, rock music mostly of the late sixties and early seventies, and the connections between them. Explores wider musical and extramusical connections.

Rob Wegman


POL 319, AAS 316, AMS 391

History of African American Political Thought

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.

Desmond Jagmohan


REL 256, AAS 256

African American Religious History

This course will trace the origins and development of African American religion in the United States. It will begin with the important debate about "Africanisms" and an examination of "slave religion" in its various forms. We will also discuss urban religion and the rise of "The Black Gods of the Metropolis". In addition to Christian and quasi-Christian groups, we will also explore the rise of non-Christian groups such as Black Hebrews and the Nation of Islam. The course concludes with an examination of the contested role of black churches during the Civil Rights Movement.

Wallace D. Best


REL 258

Religion in American Society

A broad survey of religion in American society from the colonial era to the present. Emphasis on religious encounter and conflict; the relationship between religious change and broader social and political currents; religious innovations and transformations; immigrant religions; secularization, resurgence, and pluralism. Mix of primary and secondary source readings.

Judith Weisenfeld


REL 310, AAS 310

American Pentecostalism

Pentecostalism is the fastest growing religious movement in the world, spreading especially in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, having a major impact on the religious, social, and economic practices in those regions. 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.

Wallace D. Best


REL 358

Religion in American Culture Since 1830

The relationship between religion and society in the U.S. in the 19th and 20th centuries. Attention will be paid to Transcendentalism, the Civil War, the social gospel, Fundamentalism, New Thought, Pentecostalism, civil rights, immigration, and recent religious movements.

Brendan Pietsch


REL 360, GSS 360, AMS 369

Women and American Religion

In exploration of women's roles and experiences, and constructions of gender in diverse settings within North American religion. The seminar will examine female religious leaders and participants in such subcultures as Puritanism, evangelicalism, Catholicism, Judaism, African American Protestantism, native traditions, and American Islam. Emphasis on the dilemmas faced by women in religious institutions as well as the creative uses women have made of their social and religious "place."

Judith Weisenfeld


REL 367, AAS 346

The American Jeremiad and Social Criticism in the United States

An examination of 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 criticism's 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.

Eddie Glaude


REL 372, AAS 382

Race, Religion, and the Harlem Renaissance

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."

Wallace D. Best


REL 377, AAS 376, AMS 378

Race and Religion in America

This course examines the ways in which constructions of race have shaped how varied Americans have constructed religious identities and fostered religious experience, as well as made meaning of the religions of others. Topics addressed include American intrepretations of race in the Bible, religion and racial slavery, religious constuctions of whiteness, and religious resistance to notions of race. Readings are drawn from a range of primary and secondary sources.

Judith Weisenfeld


SOC 201

American Society and Politics

An introduction to changing patterns of family structure, community life, economic relations, voluntary associations, moral beliefs and values, social and political movements, and other aspects of civil society and politics in the United States.

Paul Starr


SOC 315, AAS 315, LAS 316

Race, Ethnicity, and the Nationalism in Latin America

Examines a wide range of issues regarding race, ethnicity and nationalism in Latin America. We will explore the basic sociological, political and cultural concepts of nation, race and ethnicity, emphasizing how they are used in the region. Race and ethnicity have taken on special meanings in Latin America that are disctinct from other regions. Much of the course will focus on how that came about and how race is manifested. We will emphasize comparisons to the U.S. as well as across countries within Latin America. The course will cover populations of African and indigenous origins.

Eduardo Telles


THR 340, AAS 343, CWR 340, HUM 340

Autobiographical Storytelling

Every life delivers a story (or three) worth telling well. This workshop course rehearses the writing and performance skills necessary to remake the raw material drawn from lived experience into compelling autobiographical storytelling. Course participants will work in an array of storytelling modes (including stand-up comedy, testimonial, first-person media, slam poetics, etcetera) and will draw from those techniques to devise, document and perform an original work of autobiographical storytelling at semester's end.

Brian Herrera


VIS 307, AAS 307

Film Blackness

This seminar will frame the idea of black film as a visual negotiation between film as art and the discursivity of race, rather than black film as a demographic, or a genre, or a reflection of the black experience, or something bound by a representational politics of positive and negative stereotypes. Black film will be critically considered as an interdisciplinary practice that enacts a distinct visual and expressive culture alongside literature, music, art, photography, and new media. Students will consider new paradigms for genre, narrative, aesthetics, historiography, and intertextuality within this overarching concept of black film.

Michael Gillespie