Fall 2023


Fall 2023 African-American Studies UN1001
Call Number:
14133 Points: 4
Section 001
Day/Time: TR 10:10am-11:25am

Instructor: Nyle Fort

Prerequisites: Students need to register for a section of AFAS UN1010, the required discussion section for this course.

From the arrival of enslaved Africans to the recent election of President Barack Obama, black people have been central to the story of the United States, and the Americas, more broadly. African Americans have been both contributors to, and victims of, this “New World” democratic experiment. To capture the complexities of this ongoing saga, this course offers an inter-disciplinary exploration of the development of African-American cultural and political life in the U.S. but also in relationship to the different African diasporic outposts of the Atlantic world.
The course will be organized both chronologically and thematically, moving from the “middle passage” to the present so-called “post-racial” moment—drawing on a range of classical texts, primary sources, and more recent secondary literature—to grapple with key questions, concerns, and problems (i.e. agency, resistance, culture, etc.) that have preoccupied scholars of African-American history, culture, and politics. Students will be introduced to a range of disciplinary methods and theoretical approaches (spanning the humanities and social sciences), while also attending to the critical tension between intellectual work and everyday life, which are central to the formation of African-American Studies as an academic field.
This course will engage specific social formations (i.e. migration, urbanization, globalization, etc.), significant cultural/political developments (i.e. uplift ideologies, nationalism, feminism, Pan-Africanism, religion/spirituality, etc.), and hallmark moments/movements (i.e. Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights movement, etc.). By the end of the semester, students will be expected to possess a working knowledge of major themes/figures/traditions, alongside a range of cultural/political practices and institutional arrangements, in African-American Studies.

African-American Studies UN3030 - Section 001
Call Number:
12202 Points: 3
Day/Time: TR
2:40pm - 3:55pm
Section 001

Instructor: Kevin Fellezs

This course focuses on a central question: how do we define “African American music”? In attempting to answer this question, we will be thinking through concepts such as authenticity, representation, recognition, cultural ownership, appropriation, and origin(s).  These concepts have structured the ways in which critics, musicians and audiences have addressed the various social, political and aesthetic contexts in which African American music has been composed (produced), performed (re-­‐produced) and heard (consumed). In exploring the diversity of African American musical expression, we will question our assumptions about race, about music, and the links between the two. By taking a largely historical approach, we will see how African American music has both shaped and been shaped by the social contexts in which it is created and performed. Our readings and discussions will encompass African American music from spirituals and work songs to bebop and hip hop, from Duke Ellington to N.W.A., from Bessie Smith to Stevie Wonder, from James Reese Europe to Bob Marley, all of which will help us explore the rich set of meanings black music has held in the Americas for over four hundred years.

Fall 2023 African-American Studies UN1002
Major Debates in African-American Studies - "The Long Black 1980's"
Call Number:
14141 Points: 4
Day/Time: W 2:10pm-4:00pm
Section 001 - The Long Black 1980'S

INSTRUCTOR: Jafari Allen

This course will explore major “debates” in Black Studies from the vantage of the long 1980s (approx. 1979-1995).

While questions of Black ‘community’ inclusion, naming, representation, political strategy, and resistance, for example, have long historical genealogies; the long 1980s is distinguished by an explosion of various contentious and often contradictory discourse-- transmitted through both popular and scholarly media. These debates proliferated in popular media; around water colors, in barber and beauty shops, living rooms; and among a growing, transnational Black intelligentsia that included pundits, artists, activists, scholars, and ‘public intellectuals’—all of whom Toni Cade Bambara would call ‘cultural workers’. This year, Major Debates in African American and African Diaspora Studies will survey a number of these discourses, sites, and the concept of “constructed” discourse— with specific attention to how a newly re-emergent ‘African American Studies’ contributed to public intellectual life, thus re-shaping itself as a feature of US Academe.

Beginning with brief look at the long Black intellectual tradition and its succeeding project of Black Study(ies) (African American and African Diaspora Studies, etc.) we will take up a number of its most enduring major debates through a survey of popular and scholarly literature, social theory, film, music, ethnography, and historiography. The course will require primary independent and group research, listening, and screenings.

Faithful to the themes of long Black 1980s debates— and accenting the artistic and intellectual production of Black cultural workers and the political-economic conditions out of which they emerge and/or reflect; we will pay particular attention to the significance of ‘lived experience’ of race, gender, sexuality, class, and nationality in Black politics, culture(s), and society. We will trace how Black cultural workers’ (re)conceptions sought to (1) explain, historicize and contextualize contemporary popular culture, and/or (2) intervene in political realities like the effects of deindustrialization and dawning of neo-liberalism, police violence, HIV/AIDS, Apartheid, crack, Reaganism/Thatcherism, and public policies launched to address the so-called “endangered Black man” and “crisis of the Black family,” for example.

African-American Studies UN3943 - Section 001
Senior Pro Seminar
Call Number:
15226 Points: 4
Day/Time: W 2:10pm-4:00pm

Instructor: Anthony Johnson
Notes: AFAM Majors ONLY

Course Description
This course is a seminar for seniors to either conduct a capstone project or to begin the research process for a Senior Thesis, which will be written in the Spring semester. This interdisciplinary course provides the necessary structure needed to complete either goal. This will be an interactive class in which students are required to participate and actively engage in each meeting. The classroom is designed to be a safe, respectful space in which the feedback given and received will be constructive and will assist students in working through the issues they may be experiencing with writing. Whether students will transition to academic or nonacademic spheres, this course is designed to help students cultivate effective writing and research skills and to develop oral presentation skills.



African-American Studies GU4080 -001
Call Number: 15974 Points: 4
Day/Time: R 10:10am-12:00pm
Section 001

Instructor: Edwidge Danticat

Using the essays "Looking for Zora" by Alice Walker and "Rootedness: The Ancestor as Foundation" by Toni Morrison as starting points, this course explores how some scholars have delved into the lives and works of their chosen literary ancestors, mentors, and friends. Whether through memoir, travelogue, cultural criticism, or literary analysis, these scholars probe, question and honor their predecessors, weaving analysis and personal reflections. Through close readings of authors' and scholars' texts, students will gain further insights into these works while honing their analytical and creative skills and writing about their chosen literary ancestors. Readings include The Color Purple by Alice Walker and In Search of the Color Purple by Salamishah Tillet, To Be Young Gifted and Black by Lorraine Hansberry and Looking for Lorraine by Imani Perry, Nothing Personal by James Baldwin and Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons For Our own by Eddie Glaude, The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison and Miss Chloe by AJ Verdelle, well as shorter works and essays.

African-American Studies GU4080 - Section 002
TOPICS IN THE BLACK EXPERIENCE: "Africans and Afro-Descendent in the Brazilian Slavery Society
Labor, Culture and Resistance"
Call Number: 18560  Points: 4
Day/Time: R 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Section 002

Instructor: Isabel Cristina Ferreira dos Reis

This graduate course will introduce students to Africans and Afro-Descendent in the Brazilian Slavery Society Labor, Culture and Resistance aims to study slavery in colonial and imperial Brazil, with the objective to promote elucidative discussions about the social, economic, political, and cultural aspects that marked the experiences of Africans and African descendants in Brazilian society during the period. This course will address the theoretical and methodological developments of the most recent production in the Social History of slavery in Brazil, addressing various themes: 1) the world of work of men, women, and children under the yoke of captivity; 2) the various forms of Black resistance to the slave system; 3) the Black family life experience; 3) culture and sociability in slave society; and 4) the emancipation process of the enslaved, the abolition of slavery and the immediate post-abolition period. This course will discuss the dialogue and influences of foreign literature in the production of the new social history of slavery in Brazil, especially from the last decades of the twentieth century.

African American Studies GU4080 - Section 003
TOPICS IN THE BLACK EXPERIENCE:  "Writing and Editing the Black Studies Journal:
Call Number: 20864   Points: 4
Day/Time: T 2:10pm - 4:00pm

Instructor: Jafari Allen

This course is a Black Studies research and publication design studio. Here, the integrity of “an imagined moral-intellectual community” and the practicalities of writing and publication are held in balance, toward two functional objectives:
(1) To revise and submit (for publication) an original seminar paper, thesis, or conference paper.

                Following Laura Belcher’s, Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks, “…(t)he goal of this course is to aid participants in taking their papers from classroom quality to journal
                quality and in overcoming anxiety about academic publishing in the process.

(2) To critically survey the field of Black Studies through close reading of its journals—resulting in the production of a consulting report focused on the student’s chosen area.

This year Souls: Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Culture, Politics and Society returns to Columbia University, where it was founded by Manning Marable in 1999. This course is designed to prepare IRAAS/AAADS to receive custodianship of the journal and reshape its Black radical intellectual project in response to the current moment and prospective futures.

               “[J]ournal work is not only not an arbitrary undertaking, and it is certainly not simply the practice of putting competent scholarly articles into print (though that is avowedly its
                formal function); rather, it is distinctive for being an intellectual undertaking that is pursued with a certain horizon in mind, namely, the collective constitution of an imagined
                moral-intellectual community.” (David Scott, Small Axe 50 July 2016)

Facilitating reflexive, critically engaged, and sustainable writing practices; and focusing on the past and future of Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society; our hybrid colloquy sessions will typically combine theoretical and methodological discussions, close readings of assigned journals, and ‘workshop’ elements— including sharing of work and occasional short in class writing. We will meet in-person and virtually. Small group work will be required.

African-American Studies GR6000
Recent Critical Works in Black Literary
Call Number:
12204 Points: 4-6
Day/Time: T 10:10am-12:00pm
Section 001

Instructor: Farah Griffin

In recent years scholars of Black Literary and Cultural Studies have created an excited and innovative body of work that challenges traditional methods and forms of critical writing.  Students in this graduate seminar will read a selection of these works in an effort to identify major methodological, theoretical, and critical concerns and trends in the field. We will also read two creative works, one an edition of a recently discovered novel that was found and edited by one of our scholars and the other a critically acclaimed novel written by another and the work of a third author that blurs the boundaries between creative, critical and theoretical.  These have been chosen to demonstrate the scholarly practice theorized in the critical work, and the ways that the critic/creative writer engages similar concerns in different forms.  Finally, one class will be devoted to the critical work of a recent Pulitzer Prize winner, whose academic training and practice have greatly informed her writing for a broader audience.  Readings will be supplemented by visits from some of the authors as well as our own visit to archives at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

African-American Studies GR6100
Call Number:
15227 Points: 4
Day/Time: T 4:10pm-6:00pm
Section 001

Instructor: Megan French-Marcellin
Notes: AFAM Majors ONLY

This course introduces students to central questions and debates in the fields of African American Studies, and it explores the various interdisciplinary efforts to address them. The seminar is designed to provide an interdisciplinary foundation and familiarize students with a number of methodological approaches. Toward this end we will have a number of class visitors/guest lecturers drawn from members of IRAAS's Core and Affiliated Faculty.

African-American Studies GU4990
Call Number:
15299 Points: 4
Day/Time: W 2:10pm-4:00pm
Section 001

Instructor: Vivaldi Jean-Marie
Notes: AFAM Majors ONLY

The Black experience has been studied intensively by social scientists and humanists, but also explored by writers and artists. This class examines in detail the concepts and categories that have been employed to document and analyze the lives of Black peoples across the diaspora. The course surveys different traditions of research, writing, and other forms of critical examination and creative exploration. Its objective is to prepare students for the interdisciplinary field of Black Studies. The class is discussion based with weekly readings and invited guests who will share work and offer insights on their disciplinary methods in Black Studies. The course is open only to graduate and undergraduate majors in African American and African Diaspora Studies. Students will be required to write short, weekly commentaries. Over the course of the seminar students will develop a thesis prospectus, including annotated bibliography, and present the final prospectus to the class. Exceptions may be made for other students at the instructor’s discretion.

Ethnicity and Race, Center for Study of GU4400
Histories and Representations
Call Number:
13721 Points: 4
Day/Time: T 10:10am-12:00pm
Section 001

Instructors: Frank Guridy and Deborah Paredez

The history of the Bronx is a history of the struggles, political coalitions, and creative contributions of the dispossessed. To tell the story of the Bronx is to tell the story of how historically marginalized communities have survived and made a home in environments forsaken by the state. And yet, in the popular imagination, the Bronx often circulates simply as a symbol of urban abjection, as the necessary foil against which prosperous urban spaces define themselves. Many of these "Bronx tales" invariably relegate the borough both materially and imaginatively to the past—infused with either white ethnic nostalgia of a lost Bronx innocence or with battle-scar bravado won on its mean streets. This interdisciplinary course invites students to interrogate these long-standing narratives about the Bronx through a critical study of the borough's rich history and enduring cultural, political, and artistic traditions during the past century. This course explores a variety of movements and artifacts that have been central to the making of the Bronx such as: efforts to establish affordable housing, public art-making, the literary tradition of Bronx coming-of-age stories, grassroots organizing for immigrant rights, struggles against gentrification and environmental racism, and inter-ethnic collaborations that led to the emergence of hip hop. Students will have the opportunity to embark on field trips and will undertake a wide array of methods including oral histories, performance analysis, archival research, ethnography, mapping, as well as opportunities to engage in creative art-making. By the end of the semester, students will gain a nuanced understanding of the central role that Bronx communities have played in the making of modern New York City.

African-American Studies GR6999
Call Number:
15300 Points: 4
Section 001

Instructor: Samuel K. Roberts
Notes: AFAM Majors ONLY