Ghana Culture Essay From Princeton

Anna Arabindan-Kesson

Assistant Professor (On Sabbatical 17-18 AY)

Anna Arabindan-Kesson specializes in African American, Caribbean, and British art, with an emphasis on histories of race, empire, and transatlantic visual culture in the long 19th-century.

Wendy Laura Belcher

Associate Professor (On Sabbatical 17-18 AY)

Wendy Laura Belcher studies the intersection of diaspora, postcolonial, and 18th-century studies. She has a special interest in the literatures of Ethiopia and Ghana, and revealing ways in which African thought has animated British and European canonical literature.

Ruha Benjamin

Associate Professor & Arthur H. Scribner Bicentennial Preceptor

Ruha Benjamin specializes in the interdisciplinary study of science, medicine, and biotechnology; race-ethnicity and gender; health and biopolitics, and the sociology of knowledge.

Wallace Best


Wallace Best specializes in 19th and 20th-century African American religious history with a research and teaching focus in areas related to religion and literature, Pentecostalism, and Womanist theology.

Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.

William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies

Eddie S. Glaude Jr. studies philosophy and literature, theorizing approaches towards addressing persistent inequality by devising critical frames (like the Value Gap) that elevate public discourse to a level he describes as "accessible seriousness." He is an expert in African American religious history and theology.

Reena N. Goldthree

Assistant Professor

Reena Goldthree focuses on the history of modern Latin America and the Caribbean, democracy and social movements, and World War I.

Joshua Guild

Associate Professor

Joshua Guild specializes in 20th-century African American social and cultural history, urban history, and the making of the modern African diaspora, with particular interests in migration, black internationalism, black popular music, and the black radical tradition.

Tera Hunter

Professor (On Sabbatical 17-18 AY)

Tera Hunter studies United States history, with specializations in southern 19th-century African American history, and intersections with gender and labor. She has a particular interest in histories of slavery, including narratives about marriage and obtaining freedom.

Naomi Murakawa

Associate Professor

Naomi Murakawa studies the reproduction of racial inequality in 20th and 21st-century American politics, with specialization in crime policy and the carceral state.

Kinohi Nishikawa

Assistant Professor & John E. Annan Bicentennial Preceptor

Kinohi Nishikawa studies African American literature and modern print culture with specializations in the material history and cultural reception of African American pulp fiction in the Post-Civil rights era. His major work-in-progress considers the important yet overlooked role of book design.

Chika Okeke-Agulu


Chika Okeke-Agulu specializes in African and African diaspora art and visual cultures. He is a particularly interested in the history of modernism in Africa, and the intersection of art and politics in modern and contemporary art.

Imani Perry

Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies

Imani Perry studies race, gender and African American culture using the tools provided by various disciplines including: law, literary and cultural studies, and the social sciences.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Assistant Professor

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor studies race and public policy with specialization in housing policy. She is also interested in social movements, rebellion, and American politics.

Autumn Womack

Assistant Professor

Autumn Womack specializes in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century African American literature, with a particular research and teaching focus on the intersection of visual technology, race, and literary culture.


Taught by Professor Robert Fanuzzi

The legal prohibition and ending of slavery, especially of slavery of blacks in the U.S.

“Abolition” is a word we use when we want to activate scholarship with a sense of urgency, relevance, or potential for the future. W. E. B. Du Bois deployed it in this manner when he coined the term “abolition-democracy” (1935/1999, 184) to summarize the grand, unrealized potential of social and economic change initiated during the Reconstruction era. Looking back on the progressive labor politics, liberal economic policies, and civil rights efforts of the late nineteenth century, Du Bois left little doubt that he intended abolition to be a critical modifier for democracy in his own time, providing a corrective to an imperialist, global capitalism bent on exploiting the “basic majority of workers who are yellow, brown and black” (16). “Abolition” continues to play this pivotal role in the vocabulary of American studies and cultural studies, interjecting the history of radical social justice movements into conversations about injustices that have not been abolished and charging U.S. history with unmet political needs and ambitions that render it neither finished nor secure.

“Abolition” entered the vocabulary of eighteenth-century Anglo-European liberalism with more specific ambitions. Modifying earlier usages that referenced the disestablishment of religion, the term emerged as a demand and mandate for the termination of the transatlantic slave trade. Laying bare a chain of atrocities that began on the coasts of West Africa, reformers in Britain, France, and colonial America defined this trade as the worst link of a corrupt, monopolistic, state-run international economy that converted Africans into articles of commerce, conveyed them through the horrors of the Middle Passage, and condemned them to punishing, coerced labor on American plantations. Joining a transatlantic consensus of liberal political economists, philosophers, religious figures, and politicians against the slave trade were formerly enslaved authors such as Ottobah Cugoano, Phyllis Wheatley, and Olaudah Equiano, giving abolition the repute of a cosmopolitan, universal ideal (Gould 2003;Nwankwo 2005). Abolition, in this context, linked the end of the slave trade to the claim that Anglo-Europeans and British Americans could halt the degeneration of their own nature, evinced by their barbaric mistreatment of enslaved Africans, and bring their management of the colonial economy and international capitalism under the ethical principles of a “humanitarian sensibility” that recognized all people’s interests and suffering (D. Davis 1975;Bender 1992). Because it promised to end the slave trade while upholding whites’ economic and political dominance, this usage of abolition ascribed an inhuman, reactive, and tragic violence to all acts of African and Afro-creole self-liberation, including those that led to the Haitian Revolution in 1795, positioning those more radical acts of abolition as threats to white capitalist rule in North America’s plantation-based societies (Blackburn 1988;Fischer 2003;Trouillot 1995;James 1938/1989;E. Williams 1944/1994).

When the U.S. Congress officially ended the importation of slaves into the United States in 1807, it linked this specific usage of the term to the project of nation formation by making the abolition of the international slave trade—but not the domestic slave trade—the ethical cornerstone of a nation whose freedom from colonialism was supposed to have revealed a universal human capacity for liberty. By the 1820s, this abolitionist decree had inspired a new generation of white national leaders to advocate eradicating the degrading colonial legacy of slavery in the United States once and for all, producing a movement that was committed to ending slaveholding and to removing African Americans from the nation’s borders (P. Goodman 1998;Jordan 1969). The nineteenth-century “colonization movement,” which enjoyed the broad support of religious and political elites and financed the emigration of freed slaves and free African Americans to Liberia, was an abolition movement in the eighteenth-century sense of the word, to the extent that it identified both slavery and enslaved Africans as obstacles to the moral and national development of whites in the United States.

Just a decade later, a broad coalition of former temperance reformers, free black community leaders, emergent feminists, labor activists, and Protestant evangelicals wrested “abolition” from its past usage and gave it lasting meaning as a synonym for radical social equality and integration. William Lloyd Garrison, a veteran white newspaper editor, affirmed northern African Americans’ participation in the struggle against southern slavery, extending the resources of a robust free black anticolonization movement and employing former slaves such as Frederick Douglass as spokespersons of a national abolition movement (Stauffer 2004;R. Levine 1997;Fanuzzi 2003). Garrison took further advantage of the crisis-oriented moral vocabulary that was flourishing within women’s Christian evangelical movements in pairing “abolition” with the modifier “immediate.” Linked to almost every socially insurgent, publicly visible movement of the antebellum era, abolition made the end of slavery the beginning of a state of racial and gender equality that more moderate opponents of slavery called “ultraism.”

Beginning in the 1960s and ’70s, American studies scholars made ample use of this nineteenth-century history, both to trace the origins of modern feminist and African American civil rights movements and to create an alternative narrative of national progress. Scholars in the emerging fields of African American studies and women’s studies turned the rich archive of nineteenth-century abolition newspapers, propaganda, and literature into the wellspring for a new kind of politics that accommodated categories of gender, race, and embodiment, as well as aesthetic modes of feeling, sentimentality, and interiority. Karen Sánchez-Eppler’s new coinage—“feminist-abolitionist” (1993, 16)—reflected an emerging consensus that abolition was, as Du Bois had suggested, not a fixed historical milestone but an open-ended category for imagining political formations that lay within the domains of literature and culture, outside the legal definition of U.S. citizenship.

Labor historians and cultural studies scholars of the 1980s and ’90s also followed Du Bois’s lead and placed the discussion of the abolition of slavery within ongoing capitalist, institutional, governmental, and cultural forces that were responsible for new and intractable forms of racial inequality. Scholars such as David Roediger (1994), Angela Davis (2003), and Ruth Wilson Gilmore (2007) worked from the assumption that the end of slavery in 1865 was a necessary but insufficient step in the process of eradicating a structurally racist capitalist system and that the full meaning and realization of abolition would require a succession of modifiers and new mandates, including the “abolition of whiteness” and “prison abolition,” in order to bring scholarship that much closer to understanding the roots of racial injustice, both historical and contemporary. Their accretions remind us that “abolition,” the byword for finality, is at bottom the symbol for urgent democratic social and political change that has not yet occurred.

AAS 201
Introduction to the Study of African American Cultural Practices

Taught by Professor Imani Perry

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

AAS 202 / SOC 202
Introductory Research Methods in African American Studies

Taught by Professor H. Taylor

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 process of conceptualizing basic research techniques, and some of the unique issues in conducting research on the black experience. A variety of appropriate studies will be utilized.

AAS 212/ENG 212
What’s So Funny? Forms of African American Humor

Taught by Professor Kinohi Nishikawa

What's so funny? is a question that could be turned around to ask: Who's laughing? Comedian Dave Chappelle might say it's a question about who gets the joke, and who doesn't. This survey of African American humor is an introduction to getting the joke. We study the technical artistry of black humorists and comedians and reflect on the audiences for whom they write and perform. We examine a range of cultural expression, from the dozens to stand-up comedy. In our critical and creative work, we assess how past forms and strategies can be adapted to the project of African American humor today

AAS 230 / ENG 231
The Fire This Time: Reading James Baldwin

Taught by Professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

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.

1:30 pm - 4:20 pm M

AAS 235 / SOC 236
Race is Socially Constructed: Now, What?

Taught by Professor Ruha Benjamin

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.

Lecture L01: 1:30 pm – 3:20 pm T

AAS 237 / ART 237
Modern and Contemporary African Art

Taught by Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu

This course examines the range of work by African artists from the colonial period to the era of post-independence. It seeks to familiarize students with modern and contemporary art from Africa by studying forms, ideas, and subject matter that have preoccupied African artists since the mid-2oth century. It is also interested in the critical practices that have helped set these artists on the global stage, as well as theoretical structures that might help our understanding of these processes.

AAS 239 / COM 239 / AFS 239
Introduction to African Literature and Film

Taught by Professor Wendy Laura Belcher

African literature and films have been a vital (but often unacknowledged) stream in and stimulant to the global traffic in invention. Nigerian literature is one of the great literatures of the 20th century. Ethiopian literature is one of the oldest in the world. South Africans have won more Nobel Prizes for Literature in the past forty years than authors from any other country. Senegalese films include some of the finest films ever made. In this course, we will study the richness and diversity of foundational African texts (some in translation), while foregrounding questions of aesthetics, style, humor, and epistemology.

AAS 242 / ENG 242
Other Futures: An Introduction to Modern Caribbean Literature

Taught by Professor Nijah Cunningham

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.

11:00 am - 12:20 pm TTh

AAS 256 / REL 256 (HA)
African American Religious History

Taught by Professor Wallace Best

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.

12:30 pm - 1:20 pm TTh

AAS 261 / ART 261
Art and Politics in Postcolonial Africa

Taught by Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu

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?

1:30 pm – 4:20 pm Th

AAS 262 / MUS 262
Introduction to the Evolution of Jazz Styles

Taught by Professor Courtney Bryan

An introductory survey examining the historical development of jazz from its African origins through the present. The course will place an emphasis on the acquisition of listening skills and will explore related musical and social issues.

1:30 pm – 2:50 pm TTh

AAS 305 / REL 391
The History of Black Gospel Music

Taught by Professor Wallace Best

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.

AAS 314 / COM 396
Model Memoirs: The Life Stories of International Fashion Models

Taught by Professor Imani Perry

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 bu 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.

AAS 315 / SOC 315 / LAS 316
Race, Ethnicity, and the Nationalism in Latin America

Taught by Professor E. Telles

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 distinct 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 well as across countries within Latin America. This course will cover populations of African and indigenous origins.

AAS 318 / REL 318
Black Women and Spiritual Narrative

Taught by Professor Wallace Best

This course will analyze the narrative accounts of African American women since the nineteenth century.   Working from the hypothesis that religious metaphor and symbolism have figured prominently in black women's writing (and writing about black women) across literary genres, we will explore 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. We will discuss the themes, institutions, and structures that have traditionally shaped black women's experiences, as well as the theologies black women have developed in response.

12:30 pm – 1:20 pm TTh

AAS 320/ENG 363/AMS 384
Islands in the Sun: Caribbean Literature

Taught by Professor Tao Leigh Goffe

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.

Seminar S01: 1:30 pm – 4:20 pm M

AAS 321 / REL 321
Black Power and its Theology of Liberation

Taught by Professor Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.

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.

AAS 323 / AMS 321
Diversity in Black America

Taught by Professor Imani Perry

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.

AAS 325 / ENG 393
African American Autobiography: Spiritual Dimensions

Taught by Professor Albert Raboteau

Autobiography has long played a pivotal role in the development of African American literary, cultural and intellectual history. This course will survey major fictional and non-fictional texts in the evolution of African American autobiography. We will read these texts both as representative of literary and cultural trends in the history of the genre, and for their individual significance.

Seminar S01: 1:30 pm – 4:20 pm Th

AAS 327 / ENG 379 / GSS 368
Masters of the 20th Century: Lorraine Hansberry

Taught by Professor Imani Perry

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.

1:30 pm – 4:20 pm W

AAS 329 / ENG 415
Chinatown USA

Taught by Professor Anne Anlin Cheng

This course registers the tension between the domestic and the foreign that has long since haunted the ideal of American integration. It looks at the construction of "Chinatown"--as historic reality, geographic formation, cultural fantasy, even architectural innovation--in the making of the American nationalism. Students will study novels, plays, films, and photography that focus on or use Chinatown as a central backdrop in ways that highlight the complex relationship between material history and social imagination when it comes to how America incorporates (or fails to digest) its racial or immigrant "other."

AAS 330 / HIS 455
Black Metropolis: African American Urban History

Taught by Professor J. Guild

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.

AAS 332 / REL 332
The Nation of Islam in America

Taught by Professor Wallace Best

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 a Wallace D. Fard, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Louis Farrahkan. Other themes covered include: women and the NOI, the return of Orthodoxy, the NOI and black Christianity, and the NOI and political power.

AAS 339 / ENG 339
Josephine Baker and the Modern

Taught by Professor Anne Anlin Cheng

What does a black burlesque star have to do with the making of Euro-American modernity? This course situates performance art of Josephine Baker as a dynamic fulcrum through which to trace the unexpected connection between the invention of what might be called a "modernist style" and the staging of black skin at the turn of the 20th century. We will study her work in film, photography, and cinema as an active and profound engagement with a range of modernist innovations and theories in the fields of film, photography, architecture, art, and literature.

AAS 345/ENG 358
Sonic Fugitives: The Soundscapes Of The African American Literary Tradition

Taught by Professor Jarvis McInnis

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.

AAS Subfield: African American Culture and Life

Seminar S01: 11:00 am – 12:20 pm TTh

AAS 347 / VIS 337
Art School at African American Studies: Process, Discourse, Infrastructure

Taught by Professor Nell Painter

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.

Seminar S01: 1:30 pm – 2:50 pm MW

AAS 348
Black Popular Music Culture

Taught by Professor Joshua Guild

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.

AAS 351 / GSS 351
Law, Social Policy, and African American Women

Taught by Professor Imani Perry

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.

AAS 353/ENG 352
African American Literature: Origins to 1910

Taught by Professor Cassandra Jackson

This introductory course focuses on texts from the mid-eighteenth century through the early 20th century; it will cover early texts such as poetry by Phillis Wheatley & Paul Laurence Dunbar; oratory by David Walker, Sojourner Truth; slave narratives by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs; spirituals; black theatre by Pauline Hopkins, Bert Williams; fiction by Charles Chesnutt, James Weldon Johnson; & non-fiction by W.E.B. Du Bois, Anna Julia Cooper, Booker T. Washington. The course explores how black literature engages with the politics of cultural identity formation, notions of freedom, citizenship, and aesthetic forms.

1:30 pm - 2:50 pm T

AAS 359 / ENG 366
African American Literature: Harlem Renaissance to Present

Taught by Professor Kinohi Nishikawa

This course explores the relationship between cultural production and historical phenomena (such as the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights Movement, for example) in 20th- and 21st-century African American literature. Additionally, we will consider the place of African American literature and cultural production in a diasporic context that encompasses decolonization, multiculturalism and globalization. Primary texts include novels, short fiction, drama, essays, poetry and performance culture.

Lecture L01: 11:00 am – 12:20 pm MW

AAS 362 / WWS 386 / POL 338
Race and the American Legal Process

Taught by Professor Imani Perry

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.

11:00 am – 11:50 am MW

AAS 363 / SPA 352 / LAS 356
Topics in the Politics of Writing and Difference: Cuban Literature of Slavery

Taught by Professor R. Price

A course on the relationship between Cuban literature and slavery. Explicitly "Cuban" literature emerged from the literary salon of Domingo del Monte, a 19th century reformist with ties to British abolitionism, and early works focused on the island's massive slave industry. We will read several anti-slavery novels, emphasizing ties to transatlantic Romanticism and sentimental literature, and generic conventions more generally. Also: the only known Spanish-language slave autobiography; an oral history from an ex-slave; the diary of a bounty-hunter; psychoanalysis, and modern Cuban representations of slavery, including films.

AAS 365 / REL 362 / ENG 394
Migration and the Literary Imagination

Taught by Professor Wallace Best

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.

AAS 366 / HIS 386
African American History to 1863

Taught by Professor Tera Hunter

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. Satisfies AAS pre-20th century course requirement.

Lecture L01: 11:00 am – 11:50 am TTh

AAS 367 / HIS 387
African American History from Reconstruction to the Present

Taught by Professor Joshua Guild

An analysis of the social, political, legal, and cultural dimensions of the African American experience in the United States throughout critical historical moments such as Reconstruction, suffrage, the Great Migration, war, the Great Depression, the New Deal, the Civil Rights era, the black power movement, and contemporary racial politics.

Lecture L01: 11:00 am – 11:50 am MW

AAS 368 / REL 368 / POL 424
Topics in African American Religion: Black Religion and Black Political Thought

Taught by Professor M. Harris-Perry

Assesses the value of religion and its impartations of the historical, ethical, and political in African American life. Courses will also critique African American religion from a broader contextual basis by establishing commonalities and differences across historical and cultural boundaries.

AAS 372 / ART 374 / AMS 372
Postblack: Contemporary African American Art

Taught by Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu

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. Though hard to define, postblack suggested 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 provides an opportunity for a deep engagement with the work of African American artists of the past decade. It will involve critical and theoretical readings on multiculturalism, race, identity, and contemporary art.

1:30 pm – 4:20 pm W

AAS 375 / PSY 375
Social Stigma: On Being a Target of Prejudice

Taught by Professor S. Sinclair

Individuals subject to social stigma possess, or are believed to possess, 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 affect academic performance, health, interpersonal interactions and self-understanding, as well as how people cope with stigma.

AAS 382 / REL 372
Race, Religion, and the Harlem Renaissance

Taught by Professor Wallace Best

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 writings of Langston Hughes, to understand the pivotal intersection of race and religion during this time of black "cultural production."

AAS 386 / AMS 386
Race and the City

Taught by Professor Imani Perry

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.

AAS 392/ENG 392
Topics in African American Literature: African American Literature and the Law

Taught by Professor Christopher Brown

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

Lecture L01: 3:00 pm – 4:20 pm TTh

AAS 393 / AAS 364 / HIS 393 / WWS 389
Race, Drugs and Drug Policy in America

Taught by Professor Keith Wailoo

From "Chinese opium" to Oxycontin, and from cocaine and "crack" to BiDil, drug controversies reflect enduring debates about the role of medicine, the law, the policing of ethnic identity, and racial difference. This course explores the history of controversial substances (prescription medicines, over-the-counter products, black market substances, psychoactive drugs), and how, from cigarettes to alcohol and opium, they become vehicles for heated debates over immigration, identity, cultural and biological difference, criminal character, the line between legality and illegality, and the boundaries of the normal and the pathological.

AAS 394 / HIS 390 / WOM 390
African American Women's History

Taught by Professor Tera Hunter

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.

AAS 397 / ENG 397
New Diasporas: African and Caribbean Writers in Europe and North America

Taught by Professor Simon Gikandi

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?

AAS 409 / HIS 485
History of African American Families

Taught by Professor Tera Hunter

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.

AAS 426 / HIS 426
Memory, History, and the African Diaspora

Taught by Professor Joshua Guild

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.

AAS 456 / HIS 456
History of New Orleans

Taught by Professor Joshua Guild

Explores the 300-year history of what has been described as an "impossible but inevitable city." Settled on perpetually eroding swampland at the foot of one of the world's greatest 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. A unique crossroads of capitalism and cultures, New Orleans is, as one writer puts it, "an alternative American history all in itself." From European and African settlement through Hurricane Katrina, we'll consider how race, culture, and the environment have defined the history of the city and its people.

AAS 472 / ART 472
Igbo and Yoruba Art

Taught by Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu

This seminar focuses on  the classical and traditional values of the Yoruba and Igbo peoples of Southern Nigeria. Through readings on key aspects of the groups' philosophies, ritual practices, aesthetics and socio-cultural formations, we examine the conceptual bases and formal conditions of the arts of the two groups, and rethink earlier scholarship on Igbo, Yoruba art, politics, and visual cultures.

AAS 477 / HIS 477
The Civil Rights Movement

Taught by Professor Joshua Guild

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.

AAS Subfield: African American Culture and Life

Seminar S01: 1:30 pm – 4:20 pm T

AAS 481 / ENG 429
The African American Atlantic: Modernity and the Black Experience

Taught by Professor Simon Gikandi

Examines the formation and transformation of the Black Atlantic World from the 18th century to 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 violence and pain of slavery, also became the stage in which new black identities were constructed. How did black sin 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 over the spring break.

AMS 339 / AAS 333 / ANT 389 / REL 333
Religion and Culture: Muslims in America

Taught by Professor A. Remtulla

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.

1:30 pm – 4:20 pm T

ANT 210*
Cross-Cultural Explorations of Gender in Film and Ethnographic Texts

Taught by Professor C. Rouse

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.

ART 260 / AAS 260 / AFS 260 (LA)
Introduction to African Art

Taught by Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu

An introduction to African art and architecture from prehistory to the 20th century. Beginning with Paleolithic rock art of northern and southern Africa, we will cover ancient Nubia and Meroe; Neolithic cultures such as Nok, Djenne and Ife; African kingdoms, including Benin, Asante, Bamun, Kongo, Kuba, Great Zimbabwe, and the Zulu; Christian Ethiopia and the Islamic Swahili coast; and other societies, such as the Sherbro, Igbo, and the Maasai. By combining Africa's cultural history and developments in artistic forms we establish a long historical view of the stunning diversity of the continent's indigenous arts and architecture.

1:30 pm - 2:20 pm TTh

ART 373 / AAS 373
History of African American Art

Taught by Professor Anna Arabindan-Kesson

This course introduces 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 and students will be encouraged to consider artistic practices as they intersect with other cultural spheres. Topics and readings will draw from the field of art history as well as from other areas of inquiry such as cultural studies, critical race theory, and the history of the Atlantic world, and the course will incorporate regular museum visits and dialogue with artists and curators in the field.

Lecture L01: 10:00 am – 10:50 am TTh

ART 462 / AAS 462
Representing Race in American Art

Taught by Professor Rachel DeLue

This course explores how the complex and contested concept of "race" intersects with the categories of "art" and "visual culture" in the United States, colonial era to the present. By examining the work of a range of artists and image-makers and by drawing on the literatures of art history, the history of science, cultural studies, and critical race theory, it considers how the concept of "race" has been imagined, constructed, used, or challenged by American artists and audiences. The seminar is organized around a series of topics and themes, including: New World encounters, visualizing slavery, whiteness, minstrelsy, and "racial" art.

CWR 316 / AAS 336 / AMS 396 / LAO 316 (LA)
Special Topics In Poetry: Race, Identity and Innovation

Taught by Professor Monica Y. Youn

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.

1:30 pm - 3:50 pm W

DAN 211 / AAS 211 (LA)
The American Dance Experience and Africanist Dance Practices

Taught by Professor Dyane Harvey Salaam

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.

2:30 pm – 4:20 pm MW

DAN 222/AAS 222
Introduction to Hip-Hop Dance

Taught by Professor J. Schloss

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.

2:30 pm – 4:20 pm F

DAN 322/AAS 312
Special Topics in Urban Dance: Style and Tradition in Hip-Hop Culture

Taught by Professor J. Schloss

This advanced studio/seminar topics course explores the artistic, social, and cultural implications of hip-hop dance through an intensive focus on the concept of style. Using master classes, academic study, and embodied practice in the studio to develop a physical understanding and detailed social analysis of four specific hip-hop dance genres, we will explore the distinctive cultural influences that shaped each of these diverse forms, as well the deeper movement principles that they share. These principles will then be placed in the larger historical, political and performative context of the Afro-Diasporic experience in the Americas.

11:00 am – 12:50 pm F

ENG 319 / AAS 319 
What Was African American Literature? Reading Black Literature in the 21st Century

Taught by Professor Christopher Brown

Does African American literature still exist? Do we want it to? Do we have a choice in the matter? This seminar will examine the different ways in which the category of African American literature has been problematized in the age of the "post-racial." From neo-slave narratives to post-apocalyptic zombie novels, from the urban cityscape to the transnational, from Afro-futurism to the politics of colorblindness, the extraordinary range of texts being produced by the contemporary black writer both challenges and reaffirms the continuing vitality of the long tradition of African American letters.

1:30 pm - 2:50 pm

ENG 354/AAS 354
Slavery, Freedom, and The Archive

Taught by Professor Britt Russert

Given the conditions of loss, transience, and fragmentation that structure both the experiences and archives of slavery, is it possible to talk about a coherent tradition of African American literature before the twentieth century? This course will investigate that question by taking a book history approach to early African American literature and by exploring the problem of the archive and of the literary itself in the contexts of slavery and nominal freedom. Finally, we will explore the methodological and theoretical implications of studying slavery in an age of digitization.

1:30 pm – 2:50 pm MW

ENG 397 / AAS 397 / COM 339
New Diasporas: Black British Literature

Taught by Professor Simon Gikandi

This is a course on the dynamic body of works produced by migrants and descendants of migrants from Africa and the Caribbean in Britain since the 1950s. How has the migrant experience transformed the British cultural landscape after the end of an empire? What does it mean to be British and Black? How have migrant writers created new aesthetic forms to respond to the meaning of postcolonial Britishness? How does writing function as a mode of imagining alternative spaces of belonging? Readings will range from the novels of migrant arrival in the 1950s and the works of Zadie Smith to "post-racial" novels by Helen Oyeyemi and Aminatta Forna.

1:30 pm - 2:50 pm TTh

POL 316*
Civil Liberties

Taught by Professor K. Whittington

A study of selected problems concerning civil liberties in contemporary America, with specific focus on privacy and on problems derived from living in a pluralistic society.

REL 377/AAS 376/AMS 378
Race and Religion in America

Taught by Professor Judith Weisenfeld

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.

1:30 pm – 4:20 pm W

SOC 201*
American Society and Politics

Taught by Professor P. Starr

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.


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