African-American Studies (AFAM)

AFAM 1101. Introduction to African-American Studies. 4 Hours.

Explores several of the possible historical, sociological, cultural, and political avenues of study in the broad interdisciplinary spectrum of African-American studies. Provides an introductory overview of the field and offers an opportunity to identify areas for more specific focus.

AFAM 1102. Research and Writing in the African Diaspora 1. 4 Hours.

Introduces students to academic research, college-level writing techniques, and scholarly inquiry. Offers students an opportunity to develop critical-thinking skills. Focuses on the interpretation and analysis of current events and the diverse topics and scholarly texts of the African Diaspora through writing. Emphasizes identifying patterns of organization, providing supporting evidence, documenting sources, and practicing editing techniques and the process of revisions. Requires students to produce multiple written drafts to build a comprehensive writing portfolio.

AFAM 1103. Research and Writing in the African Diaspora 2. 4 Hours.

Designed to expand students’ grasp of diverse styles and genres of writing from among the African Diaspora. Explores fiction, nonfiction, and writing for multimedia. Expands upon the analysis and interpretation of scholarly texts, with a particular focus on the interpretation and analysis of literature of the African Diaspora through writing. Offers students an opportunity to expand their writing portfolio as well as deliver oral presentations. Requires students to develop original, qualitative research through a semester-long research project.

AFAM 1104. The African-American Experience through Music. 4 Hours.

Explores the various musical traditions of African Americans, with a specific focus on the United States. Examines the impact of African, European, and Native American traditions on African-American music as well as the role of music as an expression of African-American aesthetics, traditions, and life. Considers historical and contemporary forms of African-American music, with selected video presentations. Not open to students who have taken MUSC 1104.

AFAM 1109. Foundations of Black Culture 1. 4 Hours.

Studies music, literature, visual and performing arts, and other cultural and artistic traditions as they have evolved among African, African-American, and Caribbean peoples.

AFAM 1113. Black Popular Culture: Music, Movies, and More. 4 Hours.

Surveys Black popular culture from the mid-1950s to the present through music, movies, music videos, and other forms of multimedia, paying close attention to social commentary, political critique, economic inference, cultural formation, explications of religious and spiritual beliefs, and the like. Issues of representation, identity, values, and aesthetics are pondered and discussed. Seeks to cause students to rethink and reexamine the intent and impact of Black popular culture as a method and means of expression and communication.

AFAM 1135. John Coltrane and Black America’s Quest for Freedom. 4 Hours.

Studies the life of John Coltrane, one of the greatest musicians of all time. Presents his growing up in a Black North Carolina community during the era of U.S. apartheid to becoming a world-class artist whose music touched listeners around the globe and continues to be a major influence in current times. His advanced and innovative conceptions (melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic) and stylistic contributions to African-American creative improvisation changed the way to play the music forever. Emphasizes his immense impact on jazz and other improvisational music and expressive art forms, as well as his spiritual legacy, which focused on using music for the improvement of humanity. Not open to students who have taken MUSC 1135.

AFAM 1140. Introduction to African-American History. 4 Hours.

Surveys the development of African Americans in the United States from their African background to the present. Covers medieval and early modern societies in West and Central Africa; the transatlantic slave trade; the evolution of slavery from the colonial period through the Civil War; free blacks; Reconstruction; migration; civil rights; and black nationalism. Considers gender relations throughout the entire period and emphasizes how an historical perspective helps to inform discussions of contemporary issues.

AFAM 1220. African-American Theatre. 4 Hours.

Surveys the history of African-American theatre artists in the United States from the time of Ira Aldridge to the present day. Also examines the works of African-American playwrights from the Harlem Renaissance to the present, with an emphasis on the period beginning with Baraka’s Dutchman.

AFAM 1225. Gender, Race, and Medicine. 4 Hours.

Examines the basic tenets of “scientific objectivity” and foundational scientific ideas about race, sex, and gender and what these have meant for marginalized groups in society, particularly when they seek medical care. Introduces feminist science theories ranging from linguistic metaphors of the immune system, to the medicalization of race, to critiques of the sexual binary. Emphasizes contemporary as well as historical moments to trace the evolution of “scientific truth” and its impact on the U.S. cultural landscape. Offers students an opportunity to develop the skills to critically question what they “know” about science and the scientific process and revisit their disciplinary training as a site for critical analysis. AFAM 1225, HIST 1225, and WMNS 1225 are cross-listed.

AFAM 1270. Economic Status of Ethnic Minorities. 4 Hours.

Examines the economic conditions and processes as they impact minorities within the U.S. economy. Considers the role of national economic policies undertaken to address general economic and social conditions, as well as policies targeted at minority markets and institutions. Emphasis is on empirical analysis; historical and cultural materials may be incorporated.

AFAM 1300. The African-American Experience through Short Fiction and Black Cinema. 4 Hours.

Surveys the expressions of African-Americans through the lens of short fiction and black cinema. Engages both the traditional and contemporary forms of cultural expression, grounding the lineages through numerous African forms, contributions from the West and Far East, and looking toward futuristic engagement.

AFAM 1990. Elective. 1-4 Hours.

Offers elective credit for courses taken at other academic institutions. May be repeated without limit.

AFAM 2301. Foundations of Black Culture 2. 4 Hours.

Continues AFAM 1109. Provides an interdisciplinary approach to the cultural production of African-based traditions in the Americas and elsewhere in the African Diaspora. Forms of cultural production include film, theatre, the visual arts, literary arts, and dance. While several issues in theory and practice in the arts are discussed, emphasis is on the ways in which an African-based tradition is rooted in the intellectual and cultural histories of African descendants in the United States, the Caribbean, South and Central America, and Great Britain.

AFAM 2312. Black History of Boston. 4 Hours.

Examines the social, economic, political, and educational history of Boston’s black community in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The development of the black community and its institutions is a major focus, and students are encouraged to study the past in an attempt to understand the present and interpret the future. Research data include participant observation, oral history, interviews, and primary and secondary source materials.

AFAM 2320. The Black Family. 4 Hours.

Studies how the black family functions, both interpersonally and as a social unit. Anthropological and sociological theories deal with variations in family structure and the function of the black family in black society. The effects of slavery and colonization on the black family structure and functions are also explored. Discusses some of the differences and similarities between African, African-American, and African-Caribbean families.

AFAM 2325. African-American Women. 4 Hours.

Examines themes and topics in the history of African-American women using an interdisciplinary approach. Themes and topics include women’s lives in precolonial Africa, their role in the transatlantic slave trade, women and American slavery, community and institution building after Emancipation, black women and labor, stereotypes of black women, black women and civil rights, and black women today.

AFAM 2337. African-American History before 1900. 4 Hours.

Covers the development of black America from slavery through the Booker T. Washington-W. E. B. DuBois controversy, with emphasis on the historical links between Africa and America that have shaped the African-American experience. Includes in-depth discussion of slavery’s impact, the role of the antebellum free black, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the black response to the new racism of the late nineteenth century.

AFAM 2338. African-American History since 1900. 4 Hours.

Examines the modern development of black America, with major emphasis on the twentieth century and the rising tide of African-American nationalism. Provides an historical perspective regarding key contemporary issues including the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Marcus Garvey back-to-Africa movement, the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Muslims, the impact of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the idea of Black Power.

AFAM 2339. Analysis of American Racism. 4 Hours.

Discusses the cycle by which racism in our institutions helps form our attitudes and the manner in which our attitudes, in turn, shape our institutions. Emphasizes the practical, day-to-day aspects of racism, rather than the theoretical and historical.

AFAM 2344. Contemporary Black Politics. 4 Hours.

Analyzes the evolution of black political thought in the United States and examines the sociopolitical contexts that have served as catalysts to modern black political movements.

AFAM 2345. The Black Experience in the Caribbean. 4 Hours.

Offers a descriptive and interpretive analysis of the growth of the modern black community in the Caribbean. Although the focus is the contemporary period, the course examines that period in the context of colonialism and slavery in the Americas. Important racial, social, political, economic, and religious issues are addressed.

AFAM 2350. History of Blacks in the Media and the Press. 4 Hours.

Offers a historical and visual examination of the development of the African-American experience in the U.S. mass media and press. Analyzes contemporary and historical literature, films, and people with respect to history, racism, images, psychology, and social movements. Newspapers, film, television, and radio are prime focal points, and are used to help form strategies for the future of black Americans.

AFAM 2360. Politics of Poverty. 4 Hours.

Explores how and why there is poverty, how it affects people’s lives, and how it can be eliminated. Examines the relations between poverty, racial and ethnic factors, and the economic, political, and administrative systems. Evaluates a number of alternatives and provides an opportunity for clarifying individual assumptions and feelings about poverty.

AFAM 2365. Blacks and Jews. 4 Hours.

Compares the black and Jewish experiences in the United States. Themes include remembered slavery and commemoration of freedom; Holocaust and genocide; religious expressions of politics; black-Jewish relations; and black Judaism.

AFAM 2367. Race and Social Identity. 4 Hours.

Provides an interdisciplinary look at the social, political, and psychological factors shaping contemporary African-American identity. Explores several different factors that interact with blackness to shape the diversity of African-American experience, such as skin color, gender, culture, and class. Studies black identity as it has been conceptualized, measured, and researched by psychologists. Readings include essays written by important African-American thinkers, fiction, and autobiographical narratives, as well as empirical research in the field of psychology.

AFAM 2399. Black Community and Social Change. 4 Hours.

Explores the dynamic changes experienced by black communities in the United States since the civil rights era in the 1950s and 1960s. Includes discussions and applications of key concepts and methods in several fields of the social sciences, and seeks to understand the relationship of race, class, gender, and social change in addressing the current search for policies and programs for community development.

AFAM 2455. American Women Writers. 4 Hours.

Surveys the diversity of American women’s writing to ask what it means to describe writers as disparate as Phillis Wheatley, Edith Wharton, Toni Morrison, and Alison Bechdel as part of the same “tradition.” With attention to all genres of American women’s writing, introduces issues of genre and gender; literary identification; canons; the politics of recuperation; silence and masquerade; gender and sexuality; intersectionality; sexual and literary politics, compulsory heterosexuality, and more. AFAM 2455, ENGL 2455, and WMNS 2455 are cross-listed.

AFAM 2549. Public Policy and Black America. 4 Hours.

Examines the impact of public policy on African Americans and the role of African Americans in the formulation of public policy. These roles include protest, interest-group politics, electoral politics, and blacks as policy researchers and advisers. The process of public policy formulation as it affects blacks is explored through a series of case studies ranging from the formulation and enforcement of fugitive slave laws in the pre–Civil War era to strategic military and foreign policy, affirmative action, welfare reform, and reparations in our own time.

AFAM 2600. Contemporary Issues: Race, Science, and Technology. 4 Hours.

Examines the social impact of diverse forms of technological development and application that will have sweeping effects on the everyday lives of individuals, groups, governments, and societies in the twenty-first century. The global, transforming effects of technology as it affects communities of color in the United States and internationally are explored in three main areas: the computer, DNA, and quantum revolutions. Topics include the digital divide, minority media ownership, human cloning, the “” phenomenon, race and cultural representations in cyberspace, and biopiracy. Lectures, class discussions, fieldwork, and interaction with leaders in these various fields are integral elements of the course.

AFAM 2639. Globalism, Racism, and Human Rights. 4 Hours.

Explores the historical stages of globalization as a geopolitical and social phenomenon having significant impact on social change. Focuses on multiple effects of racism and the gradual emergence of human rights as an extension of basic freedoms internationally. Topics and themes include the African and Latino Diaspora, North-South debates, gender, Third World countries, democratization, poverty, healthcare/pandemic disease, censorship, political repression, new development strategies, and the role of the United Nations and other international organizations in increasingly complex societies.

AFAM 2990. Elective. 1-4 Hours.

Offers elective credit for courses taken at other academic institutions. May be repeated without limit.

AFAM 2991. Research Practicum. 2-4 Hours.

Involves students in collaborative research under the supervision of a faculty member. Offers students an opportunity to learn basic research methods in the discipline. Requires permission of instructor. May be repeated once for up to 4 total credits.

AFAM 3402. African-American English. 4 Hours.

Addresses topics in the study of African-American English or Ebonics. Investigates the hypotheses about the origins of African-American English as well as arguments about the relationship of the dialect to English and other languages. Considers issues regarding the use of the dialect in schools.

AFAM 3422. Blacks in Science and Medicine. 4 Hours.

Studies the contributions that African Americans have made to the development of science and technology in America. Examines the cultural and social factors that have encouraged blacks to work in the fields of science (biology, chemistry, physics, and medicine) and technology (engineering). Certification of blacks within the U.S. scientific community and the availability of science to the past and contemporary African-American communities are also explored. Uses readings, discussions, individual research topics, and interviews with black scientists, inventors/engineers, and doctors.

AFAM 3441. Third World Political Relations. 4 Hours.

Offers a comparative regional analysis of the political systems of Third World nations of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Emphasis is on development strategies; problems of development, including national identity, political socialization and participation, national defense, and urbanization; and the positions of Third World nations in the international community.

AFAM 3454. Black Elderly in the Americas. 4 Hours.

Examines in historical context the economic, healthcare, and cultural issues surrounding the aging process among blacks in the Americas, with emphasis on the United States. Identifies the treatment of elders in traditional African societies, major diseases with differential incidence among the black elderly (such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes), racial health disparities, and institutions that African Americans have developed to cope with the conditions of elderly blacks.

AFAM 3458. Labor, Unions, and Work in Black Society. 4 Hours.

Focuses on the nature and meaning of work in black society in the United States, especially the interface between black workers and organized labor. Explores the long-term exclusion of black workers from many unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AF of L) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; the efforts of industrial unions affiliated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO); the rise of such black unions as the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; and more recent efforts to organize public employees.

AFAM 3485. Education Issues in the Black Community. 4 Hours.

Focuses on some of the important issues in today’s urban elementary and secondary education systems. Examines the historical development of these issues, and students are encouraged to think about and discuss the issues’ future significance.

AFAM 3663. The Black Novel. 4 Hours.

Focuses on the black novelist’s place in the history of American fiction. Emphasis is given to Chesnutt, Toomer, Wright, Ellison, and contemporary novelists, and to their different perceptions of the black experience in America.

AFAM 3664. Black Poetry and the Spoken Word. 4 Hours.

Focuses on the black poet’s place in the history of American poetry. Considers black poetry as both written words and spoken words.

AFAM 3990. Elective. 1-4 Hours.

Offers elective credit for courses taken at other academic institutions. May be repeated without limit.

AFAM 4501. Contemporary Issues: Hip-Hop Culture. 4 Hours.

Surveys the global impact of hip-hop culture on a new generation of young people. Begun in the 1970s and 1980s in the United States as a cross-cultural expression of black and Puerto Rican traditions, it has become a major force worldwide. Using an interdisciplinary and practice-oriented approach, addresses such issues as youth identity formation, the role of women and gender in rap music, and the use of novel expressive forms. The combination of fieldwork and weekly critiques on contemporary public debates (such as censorship and the U.S. Constitution, violence and aggression, and sexism and misogyny) yield a final document to be presented to the University community and to be deposited in the Twenty-First Century Hip-Hop Library and Archive Project.

AFAM 4507. Afro-Cuban Culture—International Study. 4 Hours.

Offers students an opportunity to obtain fundamental knowledge of the legacy of African-based cultures in Cuba, from historical to contemporary times. Examines origins of Africans in Cuba, including study of plantation culture, transculturation, African-derived religions, the visual arts, music literature, images of blacks in film and the mass media, and African-derived culture in Cuban daily life. Also includes visits to temples and other ritual spaces, meetings with writers, encounters with artistic troupes, meetings with priests or priestesses, visits to cultural organizations, and possible participation in rituals or ceremonies (tambor, cajón, violin).

AFAM 4533. Field Research Seminar. 4 Hours.

Enables advanced students to design and execute research studies in the field utilizing such methods as community surveys, courtroom observation, archival research, archaeological excavation, and participant observation. Includes performance studies.

AFAM 4544. Seminar in Black Leadership. 4 Hours.

Enables students to conduct in-depth studies of significant black leaders-male and female-in a wide range of fields. Focuses on black leadership in the political arena as elected officials, leaders of pressure groups, leaders of protest organizations, black nationalist organizations, and feminist/womanist groups, and as advisers to political parties and presidential administrations.

AFAM 4588. Literature in Context. 4 Hours.

Places writers in the context of a special theme; for example, students might discuss a group of writers influenced by their common interest in psychoanalysis, by the social consciousness, or by an interest in the settlement of America.

AFAM 4618. Laboratory in Community Psychology. 4 Hours.

Familiarizes students with some of the research methods employed by psychologists and other scientists working in the area of community psychology. Community psychologists study people in their social contexts, with emphasis on the mutual influences that individuals and communities have upon each other. Rather than attempt to understand and treat problems at the individual level, research in community psychology aims to offer practical solutions to social problems, focusing on prevention. Familiarizes students with a particular community, which they utilize for data collection. Students develop survey instruments/interview schedules, collect data, and analyze and interpret the findings with a qualitative design if possible.

AFAM 4640. Topics in African-American History. 4 Hours.

Covers special topics in African-American history. May be repeated without limit.

AFAM 4642. Topics in African-American Art History. 4 Hours.

Explores special topics in African-American art history in this advanced seminar. May be repeated without limit.

AFAM 4663. Early African-American Literature. 4 Hours.

Surveys the development and range of black American writers, emphasizing poetry and prose from early colonial times to the Civil War.

AFAM 4670. Modern African-American Literature. 4 Hours.

Surveys the development and range of black American writers in poetry and prose from the post-Civil War period to the present.

AFAM 4700. Advanced Seminar. 4 Hours.

Offers students the opportunity to prepare a professional research paper under the close supervision of a scholar interested in students’ particular research areas. The senior thesis is required of all African-American studies majors. Fulfills experiential education requirement.

AFAM 4710. Field and Lab Methods for Researching Afro-Caribbean Music. 4 Hours.

Designed to provide students with principles and practices of ethnomusicological field techniques and research focused on selected African-based music cultures throughout the Caribbean. Offers students an opportunity to obtain a firm foundation so that they may be able to explore research in various genres, forms, and styles of Black music across the globe. Combines theory and practice in an experiential course. May be repeated without limit.

AFAM 4900. Seminar: Authors in the African Diaspora. 4 Hours.

Enables students to conduct in-depth studies of significant bodies of work-both fiction and nonfiction-by individual authors of the African Diaspora such as Chinua Achebe, W. E. B. DuBois, Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Frantz Fanon, and Leopold Senghor. May be repeated without limit.

AFAM 4939. Afro-Caribbean Music Research. 4 Hours.

Examines the highly diverse and unique African-based music cultures of the Caribbean. Exposes students to musical repertories, ideas about music, relationship of music to culture, musical instruments, musical contexts, musicians, dancers, and musical syncretism. Examines the roles and functions of music within human life. Taught as part of the Afro-Caribbean Music Research Project while in the field in various Caribbean contexts and takes advantage of firsthand aspects of the specific music culture being studied. Activities include study of historical and contemporary musical history of the Caribbean as well as applied ethnomusicological field research methods, techniques, approaches, and procedures. May be repeated without limit.

AFAM 4970. Junior/Senior Honors Project 1. 4 Hours.

Focuses on in-depth project in which a student conducts research or produces a product related to the student’s major field. Combined with Junior/Senior Project 2 or college-defined equivalent for 8 credit honors project. May be repeated without limit.

AFAM 4971. Junior/Senior Honors Project 2. 4 Hours.

Focuses on second semester of in-depth project in which a student conducts research or produces a product related to the student’s major field. May be repeated without limit.

AFAM 4990. Elective. 1-4 Hours.

Offers elective credit for courses taken at other academic institutions. May be repeated without limit.

AFAM 4991. Research. 4 Hours.

Offers an opportunity to conduct research under faculty supervision.

AFAM 4992. Directed Study. 1-4 Hours.

Offers independent work under the direction of members of the department on a chosen topic. Course content depends on instructor. May be repeated without limit.

AFAM 4993. Independent Study. 1-4 Hours.

Offers independent work under the direction of members of the department on a chosen topic. Course content depends on instructor. May be repeated without limit.

AFAM 4994. Internship. 4 Hours.

Offers students an opportunity for internship work. May be repeated without limit.

AFAM 4995. AAMARP Practicum. 4 Hours.

Offers students mentoring by artists-in-residence at the African-American Master Artists in Residency Program (AAMARP). Students gain hands-on studio experience mainly in the graphic and visual arts and in the preparation and management of artistic exhibitions mounted at the AAMARP gallery and other local and regional venues where AAMARP artists exhibit their work. May be repeated without limit.

AFAM 4996. Experiential Education Directed Study. 4 Hours.

Draws upon the student’s approved experiential activity and integrates it with study in the academic major. May be repeated without limit.