Spring 2022 Class Schedule
101-6-20 – First-Year Seminar: Black Gothic
When first hearing the word “gothic,” most would not think of Black authors and visual artists. However, and as acknowledged by several scholars, including the Nobel Prize-winning Toni Morrison, race and particularly Blackness has always been inextricable from American Gothic literature. This course will consider Morrison’s claim to explore some early canonical gothic texts by Edgar Allan Poe and Kate Chopin as a foil for how Black authors and artists take up issues of haunting, monstrosity, and corporeal threat since the nineteenth century.
While we will spend a little time with white American authors, the center of this class is the production by Black artists. We will begin with the American “slave narrative,” stories by fugitive and formerly enslaved Black people. Also, we will look at nineteenth-century gothic fiction and poetry by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Pauline E. Hopkins, Adah Isaacs Menken, W.E.B. DuBois, and Charles Chesnutt. We will also read some twentieth-century gothic texts by Toni Morrison, Tananarive Due, and others. Finally, we will reach outside of the US and look at work by Caribbean and South African writers. The class will also include film, music, and visual art. The core questions of this freshman seminar will include: how the gothic genre succeeds and fails for Black artists; the connections between race, slavery/apartheid, and the gothic; and the relationships between memory, history, and horror in the US and Caribbean.
212 – Intro to African American History I
African American History I is an introduction to the history and experiences of African and African-descended peoples in the Atlantic world between 1500 and the late 1880s. It explores the rise and fall of the regime known as racial slavery coupled with the expansion of transatlantic European empires. Slavery, colonialism, and the violent production of racial difference in and across these imperial economies formed an African diaspora that resisted these conditions of exploitation and unfreedom. Framing the period as a 400-year war for abolition, we show that Black resistance led by rebels, maroons, and organized people, set into motion a wave of abolitionism that began in the 1780s, ignited Civil War in the U.S., and concluded in the 1880s when Cuba and Brazil outlawed slavery.
339-0-20 – Unsettling Whiteness
Whiteness refers to the meaning of racially specific, dominating and violating forms of being, seeing, doing and ordering, that define, assemble and rule the worlds of white and non-white populations. Whiteness, whether it occurs under the heading of white supremacy, white privilege or white authority is the meaning that defines just the way things are, a normal state of affairs, like in the phrase, ‘getting back to normal’. However, of the various populations, groups, communities, ethnicities, nationalities and identities western scholarship in the humanities and social sciences has deemed worthy of legitimate study, it remains the case that whiteness as it shapes and affects both white populations and non-white populations is routinely exempted from analysis. All of which raises the question of how and why this particular white elephant in the nation’s room has remained unstudied and understudied for so long, so much so that many white individuals appear to be oblivious to the racial issues of whiteness and their own whiteness, until they encounter people of color. At the same time people of color find so much of their lives involve protracted and difficult encounters and negotiations with institutional and individual forms of racially discriminatory whiteness, that simply cannot be ignored. This course will examine whiteness in four main ways: as the racialization of white populations; as the formation of white supremacy; as the cultural institution of the White Gaze; and as the regime of White Democracy.
363-0-20 – Racism in Western Modernity
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to a critical understanding of the meaning and impact of race and racism in the formation of Western modernity (the latter being broadly understood as comprising developments directly associated with European/American polities, economies, cultures and discourses from the 16th century onwards). On a global scale, Western societies have historically been largely responsible for developing economic institutions, religious identities, international laws and nation-states mobilized through ‘race' and socially shaped by racism. Yet at the same time, western cultures have globally represented themselves as exemplars of liberalism, democracy, civilization and universalism as if these ideals and institutions were devoid of race and racism.
The objective of the course is to help students develop an effective conceptual and historical understanding of the formative processes and discourses involved in constructing western modernity as a series of racialized polities, cultures and societies. Consequently, this course is not overly concerned with empirical case studies or attitudinal assessments; it promotes a conceptual approach rather than a descriptive one. It will be concerned with explaining the apparent racial discrepancies sand racial injustices of western modernity (e.g. democracies combined with racism, liberalism combined with imperialism) and how those racial discrepancies and racial injustices inform, shape and define western societies like the United States.
380-0-20 – Topics: "Black Joy"
380-0-21 – Topics: "U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Africa"
African Liberation and U.S. Foreign Policy investigates U.S.-Africa relations with a focus on decolonizing Africa and the simultaneous ascendance of U.S. global power in the second-half of the twentieth-century. The course analyzes the liberation of southern Africa from white minority rule during and after the Cold War. We review histories of colonialism, imperialism, resource extraction, and international law in shaping African politics while emphasizing how military intervention, spying, and surveillance threatened to stifle African freedom movements. The course also investigates relations led by non-state representatives and institutions such as philanthropic and religious missions, corporations, and grassroots organizations. Finally, we examine solidarity-building initiatives led by African American radicals, communists, and other factions of the U.S. left as they aimed to assist African liberation struggles from within U.S. borders.
380-0-22 – Topics: "Africans and African Americans: Cultural Entanglements"
The push of African independence in the mid-twentieth century overlapped with the Civil Rights Movement to underscore the galvanizing power of Pan-African solidarity; the social and economic transformations in the U.S. and the African continent since then have produced a less coherent political project. A host of cultural forms and expressions offer a lens for reading the political zeitgeist, alliances, contact zones, exchanges, tensions, dissonances, and, importantly, modes of solidarity between Africans and African Americans. In this course, students will explore how the afterlives of colonialism and slavery has shaped the contemporary relationships between Africans and African Americans. We ask: How have migration, racialized economics, global geopolitics, community activism, and technologies of culture defined the parameters of "freedom" and the role of the arts in achieving social change for our communities? Students will explore how writers, musicians, performers, and scholars excavate the ongoing intimacies between the continent and the African diaspora, in a post-Civil Rights U.S. and so-called "postcolonial" Africa.
380-0-23 – Topics: Race, Sexuality and Religion
This course examines the co-constructed histories of religion, sexuality, and race in the Americas. Drawing upon foundational and newer works in the field, we will explore how the construction of these categories, rooted in biological essentialism, has had immense consequences for the enslaved and her descendants, indigenous peoples, other people of color, and women, queer, transgender, and gender-nonconforming individuals. The historical record shows that individuals born cisgender male and socialized as men, namely white heterosexual men, have historically and contemporaneously dominated and controlled the North Americas and the globe. They have upheld their hegemonic and institutional power by wielding the social constructions of “gender” and “sexuality” to their benefit, often using religion, and specifically white Christianities, biblical fundamentalism, and “religio-racial race making” to regulate sexual bodies gendered and understood as non-white and non-man. This course examines the interconnected histories of race, sexuality and religion in the Americas through the vantage point of African American Studies, and specifically Black Queer Studies, and charts the construction of these categories and how racialized people—both within and beyond religious institutions—have resisted and challenged their centrality.
402-0-20 – Theorizing Black Genders and Sexualities
In this course, we will not be talking, simply or exclusively, about black women, or black queer (often meaning “gay or lesbian”) people, or black transgender people; we will not be talking, simply or exclusively, about “masculinity” and “femininity” or “sex” as a regime of reproductive coercion sutured to certain anatomical interpretations. This course will be one that concerns, indeed, black genders and sexualities; black genders, which might be to say gender’s fracture and interrogation; black sexualities, which might be to say a questioning of where sexuality is and cannot be located. This course is, in short, the onset—a continued onset—of a reckoning with what genders and sexualities are and mean, in the context of blackness and outside of or adjacent to that context, and how we might undermine, critique, interrogate, depart from, move within, or imagine outside of entirely these categorizations that are ultimately, as this course will show, regimes of whiteness, normativity, and hegemony.
480-0-20 – Topics: "19th Century Black Women Writers"
480-0-21 – Topics: "Toni Morrison"
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