Africana Studies

Novian Whitsitt (department head)

Africana Studies involves a critical study of the peoples of Africa and the African diaspora throughout the United States, the Caribbean and elsewhere in the world. Africana Studies examines the histories, cultures, and literatures of African peoples within both national and international contexts. Since the subject matter of Africana Studies embraces a wide spectrum of topics and issues, the program is multidisciplinary, with its main thrusts in the social sciences and the humanities. It also provides an excellent opportunity for social science and humanities majors to gain valuable career-related insight into the African and African-American experiences.

Required for a major: AFRS 135; AFRS 147 or AFRS 251; AFRS 171 or AFRS 172; plus four additional courses in the department; and AFRS 490 senior project (unless fulfilled in another major). Writing requirement completed with AFRS 251/ENG 251/WGST 251.

Required for a minor: AFRS 135, plus four other courses in the department.

Africana Studies Courses

AFRS 135 African-American History

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior, Intercultural, Historical

This course is a survey of African-American history from the 15th century to the present. Eras and topics include the trans-Atlantic slave trade, slavery in the Americas, the Civil War and Emancipation, segregation, the Great Migration, the Great Depression and World War II, the modern black freedom struggle, and the post-civil rights era. The class emphasizes how African Americans constructed individual and collective selves, created livelihoods, formed families, communities, and institutions, fashioned cultures, defined citizenship, and consistently defied notions of a monolithic "black community." Centering African Americans' words, actions, and artistic creations and the ways they interacted with other cultures and peoples within the Americas and abroad, this course investigates how African Americans shaped and were shaped by the many worlds they traversed. (Same as HIST 135).

AFRS 147 Literature of the African Peoples

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts, Intercultural, Historical
  • Prerequisites: PAID 111 or transfer equivalent.

Modern African writers are some of the most dynamic and innovative writers as they draw from and respond to different literary traditions, such as their own oral and written traditions, as well as European models. This course serves as an introduction to the various themes and styles of written literature of the 20th century. Central to discussion will be an analysis of gender within various African cultural contexts. Understanding constructions of masculinity and femininity, dominant female and male roles in society, and the ways in which the works challenge traditional norms of gender will be priorities within applied theoretical approaches. (Same as ENG 147 and WGST 147)

AFRS 171 History of Africa to 1880

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior, Historical

Survey of African history from the earliest times to roughly about 1880. The course begins with the historical development of Africa's still-vital cultural, linguistic, social and economic systems and moves on to examine the Islamic and Christian impact on these systems through the era of Atlantic slave trade. The course concludes by discussing the ways in which early European colonialism affected the African past. (Same as HIST 171).

AFRS 172 History of Modern Africa

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior, Intercultural, Historical

This course surveys the history of sub-Saharan Africa from the 1880s to the present. The course examines African life under European colonial domination (from about 1880 to about 1960) and under independent states which succeeded colonial governments after 1960. A primary aim of this course is to explore the diversity of human experience in Africa during the colonial and post-colonial periods. The course makes use of several primary documents to portray ways in which men and women have dealt with the challenges of living in 20th- and 21st-century Africa. (Same as HIST 172)

AFRS 221 Anthropology in East Africa: Forces of Culture Change Among the Massai

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior—Social Science Methods, Intercultural

The Maasai pastoralists of Tanzania and Kenya are experiencing rapid culture change in response to global, national, and local forces. In this course we will study "traditional" Maasai culture and examine the ways in which the Maasai of northern Tanzania are adapting to changing social, political, economic, and environmental conditions. Topics to be explored include the shift from herding to agropastoralism; the tension between traditional and formal modes of education; the adoption of Christianity in place of or alongside traditional religion; changes in coming-of-age rituals; cultural dimensions of health, illness and healing; challenges to traditional gender ideology; the Maasai relationship to their environment; and the impacts of ecotourism, cultural tourism, and wildlife conservation programs on the pastoral way of life. From bases near the city of Arusha and the small town of Monduli students will interact with Maasai people in urban and rural marketplaces; in schools, medical facilities, and places of worship; and at Maasai bomas (family compounds) in the bush. We will also visit the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation area and the Oldoinyo Lengai volcano and pilgrimage routes in in order to explore the tension between pastoralism, wildlife conservation programs, and tourism. Offered January term. (Same as ANTH 221)

AFRS 235 The Civil Rights Movement

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior, Historical

In the mid-twentieth century, black and white Americans fought (and many died) for greater rights and freedoms denied by a justice system enmeshed in Jim Crow inequality. For the past twenty-five years or so, most American schools taught the Civil Rights Movement as an unparalleled success, but in the 21st century, more and more people are asking why there is racial violence and economic inequality if the Civil Rights Movement accomplished what the high school textbooks say it did. In this class, we will examine the legal, political, economic, and social reforms that the activists of the Civil Rights Movement demanded, along with the pervasive backlash that limited their successes. We will use the scholarship from history and Africana Studies to investigate these questions, in addition to a range of primary sources including speeches, music, film, television, memoirs, oral histories, and photography. (Same as HIST 235)

AFRS 240 Africana Women's Writing

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts, Intercultural
  • Prerequisites: PAID 111 or transfer equivalent

A study of writing by selected Africana women writers from Africa, the Caribbean, the United States and elsewhere in the African diaspora. Topics may vary by geographic region or theme. (Same as ENG 240, WGST 240)

AFRS 247 History of Jazz

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts, Historical, Intercultural

A survey of the history and development of jazz, from the 1890s to the present. Includes origins and early jazz through the modern jazz era. Listening activities focus on the major figures of each historical period. Offered alternate years. (Same as MUS 247.)

AFRS 251 African-American Literature

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts, Intercultural
  • Prerequisites: PAID 111 or transfer equivalent.

A survey of African-American literature with special attention to the intersection of race, class, and gender as writers engage with the struggle to achieve the democratic promises of freedom, justice and equality. Primary emphasis will be on literature written since 1920 when the Harlem Renaissance began. Includes authors such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Zola Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Alice Walker, and Toni Morrison. (Same as ENG 251 and WGST 251)

AFRS 271 African Diaspora

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior—Social Science Methods, Historical, Intercultural

This course explores the global experiences of people of African descent. Students will study the human experiences of Africans in the Indian Ocean world, the trans-Saharan trade and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Geographical areas include Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Particular attention will be given to the web of interrelated histories, social dynamics, political, and economic processes affecting and reflecting world cultures and histories. (Same as HIST 271)

AFRS 331 Topics in African American History

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Historical, Human Behavior—Social Science Methods
  • Prerequisites: PAID 112 or the equivalent

In-depth study of a selected topic in African American history. Instruction in this course will require students to read and access monographs written by prominent historians related to the topic. This course will require intensive engagement with primary and secondary sources in writing. Topics may include but are not limited to: Black Family History; Black Urban History; The Hip Hop Generation, 1975-2015.

AFRS 345 Constructs of Race and Racialization

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior—Social Science Methods, Intercultural
  • Prerequisites: SOC 101

This course examines the social construction of race as a concept and the racialization of US society. An assessment of how racialization has changed over time and has created various interactions between groups from Whites and enslaved Africans, Mexicans and Native Americans to present day race relations. We also examine how racialization both determines and impacts social structures and the attainment of societal honors, rewards and power in modern society. (Same as SOC 345)

AFRS 371 Topics in African History

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior—Social Science Methods, Historical
  • Prerequisites: PAID 112 or transfer equivalent.

In-depth study of a selected topic in African history. Instruction in this course will require students to read and assess monographs by African historians on the topic. Topics may include but are not limited to apartheid in South Africa and Zimbabwe, decolonization, nationalism, environmental history of sub-Saharan Africa. (Same as HIST 371)

AFRS 391 Topics in Africana History

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Historical, Human Behavior—Social Science Methods, Intercultural
  • Prerequisites: PAID 112 or transfer equivalent

In-depth study of a selected topic in Africana history, emphasizing links between the African continent and the African diaspora. Instruction in the course will require students to read and assess monographs written by prominent historians related to the topic. This course will require intensive engagement with primary and secondary sources in writing. AFRS 391/HIST 391 explores how people of African descent on the continent and in the diaspora interacted with each other and with European colonial powers. The course explores interactions across empire and national boundaries as well as between different cultural groups. Topics may include but are not limited to: Comparative Slavery, Pan-Africanism, Black Internationalism.

AFRS 485 Junior/Senior Seminar

  • 4 hours

AFRS 490 Senior Project

  • 1, 2, or 4 hours