Photo by Paul Everett available under a Creative Commons Att

African American Studies examines the history, culture and politics of African-derived peoples worldwide, engaging broadly across the arts, humanities and social sciences. The program lays particular emphasis upon African Americans in the United States, but situates this emphasis within a global perspective and supplements this emphasis with sustained consideration of black peoples throughout the Americas, the Caribbean, and the African continent, and in various regions of Europe and Asia.

The program addresses these issues foremost through the orientation of critical theory, or the general critique of society. To this end, our courses ask three broad sets of questions: political questions about the operative arrangements of power, historical questions about how such arrangements form and develop over time and space, and ethical questions about whether such arrangements are right and just.

The three-part lower-division introductory sequence of courses considers:

  • AFAM 40A, the historical presence of African-derived peoples in the Western hemisphere since the late 1400s CE;
  • AFAM 40B, modern theories of race and forms of racist practice attendant to racial slavery and its afterlife;
  • AFAM 40C, theories of blackness, including the cultural, economic, and political forms developed within African-derived communities.
Further topics available among upper-division courses include: African American literature, music, art, and cinema; black political processes and social formations; black feminism and queer theory; and slave rebellions and abolitionism, among others. In every aspect, our courses are attentive to the dynamic interplay of race, class, gender, and sexuality as structural conditions, principles of organization, and terms of identification.