Africana Studies

Program Description

Africana Studies combines a traditional liberal arts perspective with interdisciplinary skills of investigation, analysis, and communication. Focusing on the social, economic, spiritual, and psychological challenges that have dominated African American history and culture, students of all backgrounds obtain insight into the world at large through the complex and distinctive experiences and contributions of peoples of African descent.

The Africana Studies program:

  • Examines the life of people of African descent, both diasporan and continental.
  • Explores the myriad expressions of traditional and contemporary African cultures, incorporating fundamental paradigms and methodological approaches into its inquiry
  • Provides a profound understanding of the social realities, experiences, and continuing contributions to human civilization of the peoples of African descent, thus equipping students to enhance life opportunities for people of African descent.
  • Instills a solid grounding in alternative philosophical traditions - which is an essential orientation in an increasingly globalized world.

Students of Africana Studies experience alternative epistemological approaches, theories, and paradigms that enable them to better conceptualize, explain, and incorporate the contemporary interests and concerns of the majority of the world's peoples and their societies.

Program Requirements

Effective for the Class of 2015

Major Requirements
I. Core Requirements:

  • Two from AFS 130, 131, 132
  • Additional Sub-Saharan Africa course from the following: AFS 131, 233, 321, HIST 271, 272, 371, ECON 212
  • AFS 132, 236, 238, 250 (Spr 2013), AFS/LAS/MUS_CLAS 251, LAS 223 or other approved Caribbean-specific course
  • AFS 248, 267, ENG 258, WS/LAS/Anth 231 or other approved gender-specific course

II. Intellectual History Course:

  • AFS 331

III. Senior Seminar/Capstone:

  • Senior Seminar/Capstone: AFS 450, 460, 470 (Individualized Study-Internship-Study Abroad)

IV. AFS Electives:

  • Three additional AFS, Cross-Listed or affiliated courses. May include Anth 239, Econ 250, 253, Educ 220, Eng 235, 236, 353, Fren 331, Hist 236, 238, 270, 271, 272, 346, 364, 373, 374, 413, 424, Mus_Clas 110, Pol 363, Soc 209, WGS/LAS 231. At least one must be at the 300-400 level

Minor Requirements
Students wishing to minor in Africana Studies are required to complete AFS 130, AFS 131, AFS 331, a second 300-level AFS course, and three (3) other core, cross-listed, or affiliated courses. Students should consult with an Africana Studies advisor for guidance.

I. Requirements:

  • Two from the following: AFS 130, 131, 132
  • AFS 331
  • 300-level AFS course, cross-listed or affiliated course
  • And two other AFS, Cross-listed or affiliated courses: May include Anth 239, Econ 250, 253, Educ 220, Eng 235, 236, 353, Fren 331, Hist 106, 236, 238, 270, 271, 272, 346, 364, 373, 374, 413, 424, Mus_Clas 102, 110, Pol 363, Soc 209, WGS/LAS 231

Students should consult an Africana Studies advisor for guidance.

Cross-Listed Courses:

  • Engl 235 Survey of African American Literature
  • Engl 236 Major African American Authors of the 20th Century
  • Engl 353 Discourses of Resistance
  • Fren 331 Francophone Identities
  • Hist 238 African American History: a Survey
  • Hist 270 Topics Course: History of Islam in Africa
  • Hist 271 African History and Society to the 1800's
  • Hist 272 African History and Society from the 1800's
  • Hist 346 Slavery, Rebellion, and Emancipation in the Atlantic World
  • Hist 373 History of Sub-Sahara Africa in the 20th Century
  • Hist 374 Protest Movements in S. Africa & Southern U.S.
  • Hist 413 Decolonization in Africa
  • Hist 424 Race on Trial
  • WS/LAS 231 Gender & Change in Africa and Latin America

Affiliated Courses:

  • Anth 239 Peoples & Cultures of Africa
  • Econ 250 Economic Development
  • Econ 253 Intro to Political Economy & the African Diaspora
  • Hist 106 Atlantic World 1600-1850
  • Hist 364: Social Differences in Brazilian History
  • Mus 102 World Music Survey
  • Mus 110 Survey of Jazz
  • Pol 363 Politics of Developing Areas
  • Soc 209 Race & Ethnic Relations

Sub-Saharan Africa: AFS 131, AFS 233, HIST 271, HIST 272, HIST 371, ECON 212, AFS 321
Caribbean: AFS 132
Gender: AFS 267

Course Listing

Course level:
100 | 200 | 300 | 400
AFS-130 Introduction to African-American Studies
Consideration of African Americans within the broader context of the African Diaspora. Students are introduced to a broad range of themes in their historical context, from the African origin of world civilization to the formation of African American societies and cultures. Other themes include the enslavement of Africans, rise and fall of slavocracy, Civil Rights and Black Power struggles, and the emergence of African-centered scholarship and praxis.


AFS-131 Introduction to African Studies
Introduction to the study of the history and culture of various regions and groups in Africa. This course focuses on both the actual history and culture and how these have been portrayed from different intellectual perspectives. Topics covered include, African philosophical beliefs; an examination of the slave trade, the participants and its impact; political traditions and systems in Africa; economic systems and the impact of, and resistance to imperialism.


AFS-132 Introduction to Caribbean Studies
Once the preeminent site of imperialist expansion, the Caribbean now it sits at the margins of the global economy. This multi-disciplinary course will traverse a geographically tiny, yet politically, historically and culturally rich terrain. This course seeks to enliven the many other aspects of life in the Caribbean outside of tourism; it will commence with the historical influences of the Indigenous peoples as well as the colonizers, and cover contemporary issues such as economy, race/ethnicity, culture, and development.


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AFS-219 African American Protest Literature
Survey of the rich tradition of African American protest in the United States that has its roots in the American Revolution and continues to be an important part of our culture today. The course examines the historical and cultural contexts for these expressions of protest as well as their form, style, and approach.


AFS-220 African American Literature of the Civil War Era
Examination of the rich literature of African American service in the Civil War. The course studies diaries, memoirs, articles, letters, and speeches to see not only how African Americans described their Civil War experiences, but also how the Civil War brought new light and new motivation to a central theme of African American literature across various genres: the quest for equal rights.


AFS-221 Civil War and Civil Rights: African American Activism in the Nineteenth Century
As study of the African American civil rights movement that began with the fight against slavery and continued throughout the nineteenth century. In addition to African American participation in the abolition movement, this course examines the Underground Railroad, the debate over colonization, participation in the Civil War, and the post-war struggle for equality and civil rights.


AFS-233 Southern African: History, Conflict, and Change
Introduction to a dynamic, yet conflict-ridden part of the African continent. Course focuses on characteristics of the pre-colonial societies and the nature of their early contact with the European settlers in the seventeenth century, the triumph of the white immigrants over indigenous Africans, the emergence of South Africa as a regional economic power, and the social contradictions that have come to characterize what is now called the Republic of South Africa. A subject of special attention will be the internal and external opposition to racial oppression.


AFS-236 Mapping Caribbean Identities
Study of the evolution of the Caribbean people from colonial to post-colonial times through careful reading of literature. Course includes novels from the English, Spanish, and French Caribbean. A small and accessible body of post-colonial theory supplements the works of fiction. Focus is on the different political, economic, and cultural realities imposed on the various islands and their populations by the respective colonizing powers. AFS 236 and LAS 223 are cross-listed.


AFS-238 Anglophone Caribbean Literature and Culture
Course introduces Anglophone Caribbean literary and oral forms including folktales, poetry, novels, essays and theories about colonial and postcolonial Caribbean identity. Literature represents Antigua, Barbados, Bermuda, British Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad. Topics include colonial origins of mythologies about island landscape, slave narratives of rebellion and emancipation; 1930s labor riots that mobilize 1960s Independence movements; and transnational migrations between islands and Canada, Britain, and the United States that has engendered a fluid, diasporic notion of Caribbean cultural identity.


AFS-244 Jazz: African American Improvised Music
Jazz history from an Africana Studies perspective. Jazz is appropriately considered African American improvised music because its major innovators are black; it is acknowledged as a uniquely American art form; and it stresses improvisation. This course surveys the development of jazz in relation to African American history and aesthetics, addressing socio-political contexts as well as musical style.


AFS-245 Slavery in the Southern United States
Study of slavery in the U.S. South, both as a sociocultural and an economic institution. Focus is on the origins of slavery and racism, mechanisms of enslavement, African American responses to slave status, unique burdens of the female slaves, and institutional structures of the slave community. Course examines several major controversies involving historical interpretation and plantation reality, as well as economic cost and benefits of the emancipation to the African Americans.


AFS-246 Human Rights Policy and Practice in the Caribbean
“Everyone has the right to leave any country”; “Everyone has the right to work and to receive equal pay for equal work”; “Everyone has the right to education”: These are excerpts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a document adopted in 1948. This course involves exploration of the rise and spread of human rights; various human rights policies and practices in different parts of the world, with an emphasis on the Caribbean.


AFS-247 History of African American Music
A survey of the history of African American music in the United States, beginning with a perusal of music in Africa and the Caribbean and tracing its development from spirituals to hip-hop. Disciplinary perspectives range from ethnomusicology (the study of music in its cultural context) to anthropology, religious studies, critical race theory and gender studies. No previous academic experience with music is required.


AFS-248 African American Women Writers
Survey of poems, essays, novels, short stories and plays written by African American women. Starting with late 18th century poet Phillis Wheatley and ending with 1993 Nobel Prize Laureate Toni Morrison, we investigate the political, social, and aesthetic concerns with which these women writers contend: spiritual conversion; woman's labors under slave bondage; reconstructing the womanhood and family ties in the post-Emancipation Era; protest against racist violence, specifically lynching and rape; black women's moral reform movement; racial passing and socioeconomic mobility; government challenges to black women's reproductive rights; and collaborative methods to organize black women-centered communities. Cross-listed with AFS-248. Offered occasionally. Fulfills humanities and conceptualizing diversity requirements.


AFS-250 Topics in Africana Studies
Rigorous, detailed examination of the philosophical and intellectual traditions that shape a common social heritage shared by Africans and African Americans. Course assumes a cultural perspective toward human organization to understand the social dimensions of the historical and contemporary ordering and governance of the African life by systems of religious, economic, and educational thought. Fulfills either the Cultural Diversity Nonwestern or Cultural Diversity Domestic/Conceptual Goal


AFS-251 Topics in Musicology: Global - Music of the Caribbean
An examination of music in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Trinidad. Disciplinary perspectives come from ethnomusicology (the study of music as culture), Africana Studies, and Latin American Studies. Covers recreational musics (such as reggae and salsa) as well as religious musics (such as bata drumming) in relation to broader cultural currents such as national identity, race, social class, gender, sexuality, and religion. MUS 251, AFS 251, and LAS 251 are cross-listed.


AFS-264 Education for Social Change
This course explores how schooling has made us the people that we are today, and asks if formal education has prepared us for the challenges that we face in this age of globalization. The course assaults the status quo nature of education and challenges us to imagine a pedagogy that is central to social change. This interrogation of education is not meant to raze the entire historical edifice to the ground, but rather to lead us to critically reflect on the far too frequent manifestations of dull educational processes that produce conformists, rather than inspire us to creatively overturn structures of inequities.


AFS-265 African-American Social Movements
Study of political movements that have developed within African American communities of the U.S. and, in some instances, spread throughout the African diaspora. Students examine such movements from the colonial era through the twentieth century in an effort to trace both change and continuities in thought and methods of action.


AFS-267 Race, Gender and The Law
A study of how U.S. law has dealt with African Americans and Women, from their status as property to the current cases about affirmative action and 'reverse discrimination.' Includes an introduction to Critical Race Theory and Critical Feminist Theory as approaches to viewing the law. Each student will work with their own Supreme Court case, wrestling not only with the legal concepts contained in the case, but the historical context from which it arose, with both a broad (national) and local (parties to the case's community) focus, as well as who represented whom and how were they paid, applying theory in a direct and practical fashion.


AFS-268 Civil Rights in America
An examination of African Americans and their quest for civil rights from a national, state and local perspective. Using textual and non-textual materials, the pursuit of political, social and economic equality frame discussions that consider racial segregation, African American leadership, the quest for the franchise, the empowering impact of World Wars I and II, political strategies, and the effectiveness and lasting influence of the modern civil rights movement in America.


AFS-272 Making of the African Diaspora in the Americas
Study of the making of the African Diaspora during the centuries of the slave trade and slavery and the experiences of men and women in the African Diaspora.


AFS-274 Globalization and its Discontents: The Caribbean Case
Globalization is one of today’s buzzwords. It is at once everywhere and sometimes nowhere. It is a maddening nexus of seeming contradictions. Although the course utilizes the Caribbean as a case study for many of the issues pertaining to globalization processes, it also pays close attention to global forces that connect seemingly divergent locales. In essence, from week to week, the course shifts from the macro to the micro and back. This affords a more comprehensive sense of the complicatedness of both the homogenizing trajectory of globalization as well as the disjunctures it engenders. The course spans disciplines and topics such as history, political economy, sociology, international relations, culture, media, (im)migration, environment, race, class, and gender.


AFS-280 African American English: Language in Black and White
Investigation of the variety of English referred to as African American English (or Ebonics) with specific focus on the following areas: grammatical structure, pragmatics, history, and educational issues.


AFS-281 Survey of African Language
An introduction to African languages, including an overview of what languages there are in Africa, where they are spoken, what they are like typologically, how they are similar, and how they are different. The course briefly examines the grammatical, morphological, semantic, and phonological systems of a variety of African languages and explores the historical foundations of language and language use in Africa. A section of the course is devoted to the social functions of language and language policy in Africa.


AFS-290 Language, Race and Education
An exploration of the educational consequences of linguistic and cultural diversity and a broad overview of sociolinguistic topics, with the goal of introducing students to current issues in the field. Topics include language contact and language prestige, multilingualism and bidialectalism, communicative competence, language and social identity, code switching and diglossia, language socialization and language ideology and their consequences for educational policy and practice.


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AFS-318 Africana Music: Juju to Hip Hop
An interdisciplinary perusal of issues surrounding Africana musics ranging from African music such as juju to Afro-Caribbean styles such as salsa and African American forms such as jazz and hip-hop. This discussion-oriented course calls upon perspectives from Africana studies, ethnomusicology (the study of music in its cultural context), anthropology, religious studies, history, philosophy, critical race theory, gender studies, and literary criticism.


AFS-321 Francophone African Women Writers: Breaking the Mold
A study of Francophone African literature by major women authors. The course covers themes pertinent to the contemporary representation of African society and women’s place in it. A small and accessible body of post-colonial and critical theory supplements the works of fiction to help place the novels in their literary and cultural context.


AFS-331 Africana Intellectual History
Exploration of the evolution, links, and applications of black thought in the Atlantic World. Efforts toward political, economic, and social change in the African Diaspora are examined through the lenses of various ideologies and historical contexts, such as black emancipation and nationalist movements, black and African feminism, and global expansion of hip hop culture. Students conduct extensive analysis and discussion of oral traditions and primary writings, stretching from Sundiata to C. L. R. James, Sojourner Truth to Franz Fanon, and Frederick Douglass to Angela Davis


AFS-348 Advanced Topics in Africana Studies
Examinations of the political, cultural, historical, or economic experience and expressions of the people of the African Diaspora. Topics numbered 348 fulfill cultural diversity domestic conceptual, 349 fulfill cultural diversity nonwestern and 350 fulfill either goal.


AFS-349 Advanced Topics in Africana Studies
Examinations of the political, cultural, historical, or economic experience and expressions of the people of the African Diaspora. Topics numbered 348 fulfill cultural diversity domestic conceptual, 349 fulfill cultural diversity nonwestern and 350 fulfill either goal.


AFS-350 Adv Topics in Africana Studies
Examinations of the political, cultural, historical, or economic experience and expressions of the people of the African Diaspora. Fulfills either the Cultural Diversity Domestic/Conceptual or Nonwestern Goal


AFS-367 Black Men, White Law
This course offers an in-depth study of the interaction between law in America and its most adversely affected subject: black men. From slavery to the death penalty, from cocaine sentencing to hate crime prosecutions, no other group has been punished more. In the practice of law, while other groups suffer from a glass ceiling, for black men it is bulletproof Plexiglas. This course will address the causes, conditions, and consequences of this separate and unequal treatment of black men by the law.


AFS-372 African Diaspora: Dispersals, Memory, Identity and ‘Return’”
African Diaspora refers to multi-layered relationship connecting a dispersed population to a “homeland.” The course explores global and transnational experiences; social, political, cultural and economic issues confronting people of African descent in North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa from the seventeenth century on. Topics include theory, methods and historiography of African Diaspora. The interdisciplinary course examines various themes as slavery, African culture survivals, revolts, abolition, creation of African communities and identities; and migrations back to Africa.


AFS-374 Protest Movements in South Africa and Southern United States
A study of important movements to challenge institutionalized racism in the second half of the 20th century in the United States and in South Africa. The course investigates the nature of institutional racism and ideologies and the rise and functioning of the resistance movements at a grassroots level and explores parallels in the development of and resistance to racism in South Africa, and the United States. The course will rely on scholarly readings, biographies, autobiographies and primary documents.


AFS-375 Aid and Volunteering in Africa: From Missionary Service to Peace Corps
A critical examination of the evolution of foreign aid provision and volunteering in Africa. The course analyzes the international and transnational politics of assisting Africans in their quests for a better life. The course also examines the various ways in which aid provision and volunteering have constructed Africa as the ultimate “paradigm of difference.” It assesses the impact of aid and volunteering on African societies and investigates the possibility of alternative approaches to aid provision. The course finally explores how Africans have historically been instrumental in the development/modernization of their respective societies.


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AFS-401 Africana Studies Seminar
Topics vary each year.


AFS-410 Africana Studies Senior Seminar
Intensive culminating experience for Africana Studies majors. Under the direction of a faculty member, students work to integrate their major and their understanding of the field(s) of Africana Studies. Prerequisite: AFS 331. The course reinforces students’ understanding of the intellectual foundations and theoretical frameworks that shape the field(s) of Africana Studies, informs and sharpens their awareness of current scholarly debates in Africana Studies, provides an opportunity for student collaboration in constructing reading lists and devising project methodologies, and builds intellectual accountability among students and faculty.


AFS-450 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


AFS-451 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


AFS-452 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial not counting toward minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


AFS-453 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial not counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


AFS-460 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


AFS-461 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


AFS-462 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research not counting toward minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


AFS-463 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research not counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


AFS-470 Individualized Study-Internship
Internship counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


AFS-471 Individualized Study-Internship
Internship counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


AFS-472 Individualized Study-Internship
Internship not counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


AFS-473 Individualized Study-Internship
Internship not counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


AFS-474 Summer Internship
Summer Internship graded A-F, counts for minimum requirements for a major or minor only with written permission filed in the Registrar's Office.


AFS-475 Summer Internship
Summer Internship graded S/U, counts for minimum requirements for major or minor only with written permission filed in the Registrar's Office.


AFS-477 Half Credit Internship
Half credit internship, graded S/U.


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