African-American Studies Website


Chair, Professor JOY A. JAMES

Advisory Committee: Professors: E. D. BROWN, JAMES, D.L. SMITH. Associate Professor: MUTONGI. Assistant Professors: BEAN, CHAKKALAKAL, LONG.

African-American Studies is an interdisciplinary program that examines the history, the cultures, and the social and political experiences of people of African ancestry in the Western Hemisphere. The program draws on the vibrant and varied intellectual traditions that constitute the study of the African Diaspora.

All candidates for a concentration in African-American Studies must complete a total of five courses: two required program courses (AAS 200 and AAS 400T) and three additional courses in two or more departments and/or programs other than African-American Studies (see eligible electives listed below).

To maximize the benefits of the program, students are urged to consult with the program chair in order to plan a course sequence that builds on a common theme or approach to the field. A coherent plan of study might, for example, comprise courses that focus on a specific geographical area (e.g., the U. S., Africa, or the Caribbean). Another approach would be to bring together courses from the Arts and Literature, or from the Social Sciences, that integrate a specific methodology within African-American Studies. Alternatively, a cluster of courses might be designed to explore various theoretical approaches to the subject of race.

Courses offered by the program:

AAS 200 The Study of Race and Social Structure

AAS 400T Racial-Sexual Politics and Cultural Memory

AAS 491 Senior Honors Thesis

AAS 492 Senior Honors Thesis


American Studies

English/American Studies 220 Introduction to African-American Writing

English/American Studies 345 Black Arts

English/American Studies 372 African-American Literary Thought and Culture


Economics 204/Environmental Studies 234 Economic Development in Poor Countries


English 236 Witnessing: Slavery and Its Aftermath


History 164 Slavery in the American South

History 165 The Quest for Racial Justice in Twentieth-Century America

History 202 Early-African History Through the Era of the Slave Trade

History 203 Sub-Saharan Africa Since 1800

History 242 Latin America From Conquest to Independence

History 249 The Caribbean From Slavery to Independence

History 281 African-American History, 1619-1865

History 282 African-American History From Reconstruction to the Present

History 304 South Africa and Apartheid

History 308 Gender and Society in Modern Africa

History 331 The French and Haitian Revolutions

History 342 Creating Nations and Nationalism in Latin America

History 346 History of Modern Brazil

History 364 History of the Old South

History 365 History of the New South

History 370 Studies in American Social Change

History/Women's and Gender Studies 383 The History of Black Women in America: From Slavery to the Present

History 443 Slavery, Race and Ethnicity in Latin America

History 456 Civil War and Reconstruction

History 467 Black Urban Life and Culture

History 483T African Political Thought


Music 122 African-American Music

Music 125 Music Cultures of the World

Music 130 History of Jazz

Music 140 Introduction to the Music of Duke Ellington

Music 141 Introduction to the Music of John Coltrane

Music 209 Music in History III: Music of the Twentieth Century

Music 212 Jazz Theory and Improvisation I

Music 213 Jazz Theory and Improvisation II

Political Science

Political Science 213 Theory and Practice of Civil Rights Protest

Political Science 239 Political Thinking About Race: Resurrecting the Political in Contemporary Texts on the Black Experience

Political Science 318 The Voting Rights Act and the Voting Rights Movement

Political Science 331T Non-Profit Organization and Community Change


Psychology 341T Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination


Theatre 210 Multicultural Performance

Theatre/American Studies 211 Topics in African American Performance: The 1960s, the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movement


A candidate for honors in African-American Studies must maintain at least a B+ average in the concentration and be admitted to candidacy by the program faculty. In addition to the five courses normally required for the concentration, an honors candidate will enroll in either AAS 491 or 492 plus a Winter Study in his or her senior year, in order to complete a substantial written thesis or an equivalent project in the performing or studio arts. A student wishing to become a candidate for honors in African-American Studies should secure a faculty sponsor and inform the program chair in writing before spring registration of her/his junior year.

An honors project should demonstrate creativity, depth, and intellectual rigor. A candidate for honors is encouraged to pursue non-traditional projects, such as presentations in the performing arts, visual arts, or creative writing, as well as more conventional research projects. The advisor will evaluate the honors project, and the program faculty will then decide whether to confer honors.


Several courses in African-American Studies count for credit in the American Studies major. Therefore, students in American Studies can easily complete requirements for an African-American Studies concentration by electing one course in an African subject and by taking African-American Studies 491. Another three courses must be chosen which satisfy both American Studies and African-American Studies requirements.