Photo by Paul Everett available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

Photo by Paul Everett available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

Course Descriptions


Fall Quarter

Dept Course No and Title Instructor
This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to important historical, cultural, literary, and political issues concerning African Americans. Through critical readings of literary, historical, and critical texts, this course provides an overview of the historical and cultural experiences of African Americans from before the 15th century to today. Beginning with a conceptual overview of slavery as a distinct relation of domination, students will proceed to examine the emergence of modern racial slavery and the retrenchment of racial oppression following the formal abolition of slavery. With special focus on Black feminist, queer, and trans* activism, the course will explore struggles for social transformation and resistance by African Americans in the United States.
Examines art by African Americans with a particular focus on the politics of representation. Beginning with the 17th century arrival of Africans to the British colonies and ending with the cultural phenomenon of the Harlem Renaissance, students will discuss artwork created in a variety of forms including material culture, decorative arts, painting, sculpture, and photography.
From The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, A Different World, Martin, and Chappelle’s Show to Dear White People, Atlanta, Blackish, and Insecure, the cultural singularities of Black television shows are inescapable, creative phenomena. In profound ways, they entertain us, tether us to one another, and facilitate critical conversations about Black existence in an antiblack world. In this course, we will sit, chill, and dialogue with these shows in order to consider how and why they work in these ways, thinking especially critically about the nature of our enjoyment and its relation to their critical potential to shape our everyday discourse.
No detailed description available.
The publication of Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval has reignited interest in “waywardness” as a metaphor for understanding how black womanhood roams beyond prescribed borders. This course introduces students to black feminist scholarship which examines how black women’s physical mobilities and migrations—indeed, their very being—have been construed as threats that demand containment. Some of the questions we will explore are: How do black women continuously surface as wayward subjects—who loiter, roam, and transgress—in colonial and national archives? What methods has black feminist scholarship devised to recover histories of these disorderly women? How do black women’s artistic practices embrace waywardness as a useful position from which to challenge not only artistic conventions, but notions of gender and sexuality? Finally, what does waywardness offer us, not only as a means of understanding black women’s position in and against the nation-state, but their determined pursuit of pleasure and freedom? Insisting on thinking of black womanhood across the diaspora, this course will explore scholarly and artistic work by Toni Morrison, Brenda Fassie, Saidiya Hartman, Hazel Carby, Yvonne Vera, Carole Boyce Davies, Rihanna, Kaiama Glover, among others.
African American Studies 144, "Race & the Art of Writing,” is a literature and writing class. While being introduced to seminal texts in the Black literary tradition, as well as to narrative theory, students will develop creative writing skills and produce a short piece of fiction of creative nonfiction by the end of the quarter.

Admission by instructor approval.

Guidelines will be available soon
No detailed description available.
Explores depictions of and by African Americans through photography. Examines the history of photography in relationship to African American culture through a variety of media from early daguerreotype processes to digital imagery.
This course introduces students to the study and critiques of capitalism within Black feminist thought. We will study capitalism as a political economy that emerges through colonialism, the transatlantic slave trade and the persistent chattel slavery within the Americas. We will explore the ways capitalism gives rise to the ideas of freedom, property, the racialized and gendered subject, and the human. In the second part of the class we will discuss the responses to capitalism from prominent black feminist thinkers. At the end of the course, we ask whether and under what conditions might we live otherwise.
History and discourses of the black protest tradition. Traces emergence of black protest against racial slavery and white supremacy from the early colonial period to present and the complex elaboration of identity politics within black communities in the twentieth century.

Prerequisite: Satisfactory completion of the Lower-Division Writing requirement.
Restriction: Upper-division students only.