My New Spring Course

Next semester after I teach my winter term course, American Jesus, I will teach an African American Studies course; I have worked developing this course. Here is a rough draft syllabus:

Course Description

The African American experience spans almost 500 years in the annals of world history. The dawn of the European arrival in Africa to the advent of forced migration across the Atlantic amidst the trepidation of the most noted middle passage is only the start of the African American journey towards political, social, and cultural emancipation. This course looks at the early stages of this journey, in which African Americans will endure slavery, Jim Crow, and full citizenship by the 1960s. In addition, the course addresses the impact this narrative had on the emergence of African American religion, literature, poetry, music, art, dance, food, and science. Works by Ralph Ellison, Countee Culleen, Toni Morrison, and “Nikki” Giovanni, Angela Davis, and Tupac Shakur are a few of the works that are studied. Conversations regarding the Harlem Renaissance, as well as the rise of “black as beautiful” during the 1960s allow students to critique the changes witnessed for African Americans. This course is a hybrid of the study of English literature, religion, race, history, and film studies, and includes a field trip to the African-American History Museum in Boston.

Course Components

Instructional Method: African-American Studies is a seminar course in which daily discussions involving the analysis of primary and secondary readings, as well as the viewing and listening of African American film and music are addressed. Success in the course is predicated on the student’s ability to engage in the discussions and offer independent thought to the conversation.

Exams, Papers, and Participation: There are two take-home exams per semester. Exams are intended to measure growing knowledge of historical, sociological, and anthropological themes addressed in the course. Students engage in a case study, examining an aspect of their life in which the dynamics of African American culture is a featured construct regarding racism, gender, sexuality, and class.

Grades:                                                           Assessment Value

  1. Two 5 – 7 page papers                                            15%
  2. Independent case study                                          15%
  3. Take-home Midterm                                                25%
  4. Take-home Semester Final                                      25%
  5. Participation & Oral Presentations                            20%

Required Texts

  • When and Where I Enter by Paula Giddings
  • There is a River by Vincent Harding
  • Introduction to African American Studies by Talmadge Anderson
  • Native Son by Richard Wright

Course Outline

  • African Heritage and the Slave Trade
  • The Slave Community: Oppression and Resistance
  • The Free Black Community
  • Civil War and Reconstruction Period
  • W.E.B Du Bois
  • The New Negro
  • Harlem Renaissance
  • Great Depression to the Cold War: The Rise of the Communist Negro
  • Black Folks and the 1950s
  • 1960s and Civil Rights
  • The Rise of the Cosby Decade
  • Black Culture and Political Rap
  • Changing Black Thought in the Age of Tupac
  • Obama and Post-Racial America
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