Africana Studies Program

The Africana Studies program, founded in 1969, is the oldest multidisciplinary program at Vassar College. The program is concerned with the interdisciplinary study of the cultural, historical, political, economic and psychological consequences of the dispersal of Africans from their ancestral continent to the diverse regions of the world. It comprises the focused and critical study of the people, cultures, and institutions of Africa and the African Diaspora through a generous offering of courses both originating in the program and cross-listed or approved from other departments. These courses span a majority of the standard disciplines: literature and the arts; area studies; history; social sciences; psychology.

In addition to a broad array of courses offered on the Vassar campus, the program also participates in several study away programs.

Requirements for concentration: 11 units are required for the major.

Basic requirements: a) At least one course at the 100-level not including foreign language courses; b) Black Intellectual History (Africana Studies 229); c) Africana Studies Research Methodologies (Africana Studies 299); d) at least two units at the 300-level, and e) a senior thesis.

Distribution of unit requirements: Students must also meet two distribution requirements. Apart from clearly specified courses, Africana Studies 229, Africana Studies 299 and senior thesis, the remaining 8 required units must include: (a) one course from each of the two divisions in the program, namely the 1) Arts and Humanities and 2) the Social Sciences, and (b) at least one course from each of the three regions of the African Diaspora, namely 1) Africa, 2) North America, and 3) Europe, the Caribbean, and South America. Note that one course (for example, African Religions) can meet the two distribution requirements (Africa\Humanities).

Students should normally take Africana Studies 229 and Africana Studies 299 before their junior year. A maximum of two units of language study can be counted toward the major. A maximum of one unit of fieldwork can be counted toward the major. JYA credits normally accepted by the college will count towards the distribution requirements in consultation with the program. NRO work may not be used to satisfy the requirements of the Africana Studies Program.

Advisers: Program director and program faculty.

Correlate Sequences

The Africana Studies Program offers two correlate sequences.

Correlate Sequence in Africana Studies: Students undertaking the correlate sequence must complete 6 units. All students must take Africana Studies 229. In addition, students must have a regional specialization, taking courses from Africana Studies or approved related disciplines focusing on one of the three regions of the African Diaspora (1) Africa, (2) the United States, and (3) the Caribbean. At least one unit must be at the 300-level.

Correlate in Arabic Language and Culture: Students need to complete 5 units of Arabic at the introductory, intermediate, and upper levels and one Arabic literature course (Africana Studies 203 or 205) or another approved appropriate alternative course.

I. Introductory

101. Martin Luther King Jr. (1)

(Same as History 101a.) This course examines the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. We immediately rethink the image of King who liberals and conservatives construct as a dreamer of better race relations. We engage the complexities of an individual, who articulated a moral compass of the nation, to explore racial justice in post-World War II America. This course gives special attention to King’s post-1965 radicalism when he called for a reordering of American society, an end to the war in Vietnam, and supported sanitation workers striking for better wages and working conditions. Topics include King’s notion of the “beloved community”, the Social Gospel, liberalism, “socially conscious democracy”, militancy, the politics of martyrdom, poverty and racial justice, and compensatory treatment. Primary sources form the core of our readings. Mr. Mills.

Two 75-minute meetings.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

102. Introduction to Third-World Studies: A Comparative Approach to Africa and the African Diaspora (1)

This course acquaints students with the major concepts, themes, and approaches to the study of peoples of African descent. These concepts include history and the African past; slavery, forced migration, and the creation of the Diaspora; colonialism and conquest; race and identity; resistance and religion; and cultural transformation. Integrating the disciplines, the course uses a variety of texts, music and visual culture. Ms. Bickerstaff.

105. Issues In Africana Studies (1)

Topic for 2011-12a.: Food and Power in Africa and the Diaspora. In this course, we consider food and culture from the perspectives of Africans, Caribbeans, and African Americans. Through a review and analysis of critical histories, current affairs, ethnographies, and film, we begin by focusing on the historical and contemporary issues surrounding the production of food for subsistence and for export, examining the forms of relationship that different types of production engender. We then turn our attention to procurement, preparation and consumption, where we explore how food is used to express and contest culture, race, gender, and class position. Issues and topics may include the impacts of agricultural “development” on African farmers; the production of sugar in the Caribbean and the emergence of globalization in Europe; African American status and the shift from soul food to fast food. Ms. Lowe Swift.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Topic for 2011/12a: Hip Hop and Critical Citizenship The American mainstream has a voracious appetite for various forms of subcultural black expression. Though varied, Black American cultural expression is often anchored in rhetorical battles or verbal jousts that place one character against another. From sorrow songs to blues, black music has always been a primary means of cultural expression and survival for African Americans, particularly during difficult social periods and transition. Black Americans have used music and particularly, rhythmic verse to resist, express and signify citizenship or belonging. Nowhere is this more evident than in hip hop culture generally and hip hop music specifically. One could argue that hip hop music, at its best, attempts to reveal and complicate ideas of private and contested public American space. In hip hop music, this contestation was usually explored and performed by young South Bronx African Americans and Latinos situated at the bottom of a highly technological capitalist society. As Tricia Rose writes in Black Noise, "Hip Hop combines the improvisational elements of jazz with the narrative sense of place in the blues; it has the oratory power of the black preacher and the emotional vulnerability of Southern soul music." The result is a new vibrant American text that deserves exploration. Though mass culture would have us believe many hip hop music is becoming less relevant and is solely to based in black male pathology, coastal beef, simplistic issues of gender, cardboard thuggery or flippant player-hating, much of the music deserves analysis that goes beneath and within linguistic style, content and historical context. This is a comprehensive freshman course that thoughtfully approaches hip hop as a meaningful, critical and ever-changing post-modern text. In addition to exploring boastful, critical and confessional aspects of the music and culture, we will critique hip hop as the epitome of metafictional post modernity. We explore the connection between hip hop and its precursors (West African chants, southern African American sorrow songs, gospel texts, blues texts, funk texts, punk texts and rock and roll texts). One of the aims of the course is to get students treat hip hop music and the literature, television and movies inspired by hip hop, as neither disposable commodity, nor cool art form, but as meaningful American text, complete with hefty subtext and pointed democratic signifiers of class, race, gender, citizenship and identity. Hip hop seems to be doing a specific kind of classed, urban, American and global work. But what are the specifications of that work? Mr. Laymon.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

106. Elementary Arabic (1)

Fundamentals of the language. Students learn to understand spoken Arabic, to express simple ideas both orally and in writing, and to read Arabic of average difficulty. Mr. Mhiri and Ms. Haddad.

Year Long Course 106-107.

Open to all students.

Three 50-minute periods, plus one drill session per week.

107. Elementary Arabic (1)

Fundamentals of the language. Students learn to understand spoken Arabic, to express simple ideas both orally and in writing, and to read Arabic of average difficulty. Mr. Mhiri and Ms. Haddad.

Year Long Course 106-107.

Open to all students.

Three 50-minute periods, plus one drill session per week.

141. Tradition, History and the African Experience (1)

(Same as History 141a.) From ancient stone tools and monuments to oral narratives and colonial documents, the course examines how the African past has been recorded, preserved, and transmitted over the generations. It looks at the challenges faced by the historian in Africa and the multi-disciplinary techniques used to reconstruct and interpret African history. Various texts, artifacts, and oral narratives from ancient times to the present are analyzed to see how conceptions and interpretations of African past have changed over time. Mr. Rashid.

Fulfills the Freshmen Writing Seminar Requirement.

160a. Books, Children, and Culture (1)

(Same as Education 160a.) This course examines select classical works from the oral tradition and contemporary works of children's fiction and non-fiction. The course addresses juvenile literature as a sociological phenomenon as well as a literary and artistic one (illustrative content). The course traces the socio-historical development of American children's literature from Western and non-Western societies. Social, psychoanalytic, and educational theories provide a conceptual basis and methodological framework for the cultural analysis of fairy tale and modern fantasy in cross-cultural perspective. Socialization issues include: ideals of democracy; moral character; race and class; politicalization; and the human relationship to the natural environment. Ms. Bickerstaff.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

II. Intermediate

200. Internship at Green Haven and Otisville Prisons (1/2)

This course combines field visits to the Green Haven maximum security prison, the Otisville medium security prison, and class meetings on campus. The program at the prison features student-inmate dialogue groups on topics such as: Domestic Violence, Family Issues; Communication Skills; Group Transitional Preparation (issues that prepare men for transition to their communities) in English and Spanish. The on-campus class meetings include group discussion, readings, and films on the prison experience in America. Mr. Mamiya.

Prison visits on Fridays 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Class meetings one Sunday per month 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

201. Advanced Internship Prison Experience in America (1/2)

A continued exploration of the criminal justice system and the prison experience in America. Field visits to local prisons and more extensive readings and research. Mr. Mamiya.

Prison visits on Fridays 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Class meetings one Wednesday per month 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

202. Black Music (1)

(Same as Music 202) An analytical exploration of the music of certain African and European cultures and their adaptive influences in North America. The course examines the traditional African and European views of music performance practices while exploring their influences in shaping the music of African Americans from the spiritual to modern times.

204. Islam in America (1)

(Same as Religion 204) This course examines the historical and social development of Islam in the U.S. from enslaved African Muslims to the present. Topics include: African Muslims, rice cultivation in the South, and slave rebellions; the rise of proto-Islamic movements such as the Nation of Islam; the growth and influence of African American and immigrant Muslims; Islam and Women; Islam in Prisons; Islam and Architecture and the American war on terror. Ms. Leeming.

Prerequisite: unit in religion or by permission of instructor

205. Arab American Literature (1)

(Same as American Culture 205b) This course examines issues related to identity formation, such as ethnicity, gender, religion, and biculturalism among at least four generations of American writers, intellectuals and journalists of Arab descent. Students also read accounts by Arab travelers in the US, autobiographies, novels, short stories and poetry spanning the twentieth century, as well as articles and book chapters about the immigration and cultural history of Arab Americans. Authors studied may include: Khalil Gibran, Elia Abu Madi, Mikhail Naimy, Joseph Geha, Diana Abu Jaber, Naomi Shihab Nye, Suheir Hammad and others. All texts are originally written in English. Mr. Mhiri.

Two 75-mintue periods.

206. Social Change in the Black and Latino Communities (1)

(Same as Religion and Sociology 206b)

An examination of social issues in the Black and Latino communities: poverty and welfare, segregated housing, drug addiction, unemployment and underemployment, immigration problems and the prison system. Social change strategies from community organization techniques and poor people's protest movements to more radical urban responses are analyzed. Attention is given to religious resources in social change. This course is taught to Vassar students and incarcerated men at the Otisville Correctional Facility. Mr. Mamiya.

207. Intermediate Arabic (1)

Continued study of the Arabic language. Students continue their study of spoken, and written Arabic. Mr. Mhiri.

Year Long Course 207/208.

208. Intermediate Arabic (1)

Continued study of the Arabic language. Students continue their study of spoken, and written Arabic. Mr. Mhiri.

Yearlong course 207/208.

209. From Homer to Omeros (1)

(Same as Greek and Roman Studies 209b.) No poet since James Joyce has been as deeply and creatively engaged in a refashioning of Homer than Derek Walcott, the Caribbean poet and 1992 Nobel Laureate. He has authored both a stage version of theOdyssey and a modern epic, Omeros, and in both of them he brings a decidedly post colonial and decidedly Caribbean idiom to Homer's ancient tales. In this course we devote ourselves to a close reading of these works alongside the appropriate sections of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. Our aim is both to understand the complexities of Walcott's use of the Homeric models and to discover the new meanings that emerge in Homer when we read him through Walcott's eyes. Ms. Friedman.

Prerequisite: Any 100 level GRST course or 1 unit of related work or special permission.

Two 75 minute meetings.

211. Religions of the Oppressed and Third-World Liberation Movements (1)

(Same as Religion 211b.) A comparative socio-historical analysis of the dialectical relationship between religion and the conditions of oppressed people. The role of religion in both suppression and liberation is considered. Case studies include the cult of Jonestown (Guyana), Central America, the Iranian revolution, South Africa, slave religion, and aspects of feminist theology. Mr. Mamiya.

212a or b. Arabic Literature and Culture (1)

This course covers the rise and development of modern literary genres written in verse and prose and studies some of the great figures and texts. It touches on the following focuses on analytical readings of poetry, stories, novels, articles, and plays. The students gain insights into Arabic culture including religions, customs, media, and music, in addition to the Arabic woman's rights and her role in society.

The course is open to any student who has taken Arabic 207 or 208.

216. Religion and the Civil Rights Movement (1)

(Same as Religion 216)

This course examines the ways in which religious beliefs, practices, and institutions helped to shape the modern Civil Rights Movement. Topics include theologies of non-violent resistance, spirituals and freedom songs, religion and gender in the movement, critiques of religious motivated activism, and of non-violent resistance. Mr. Mamiya.

227. The Harlem Renaissance and its Precursors (1)

(Same as English 227a.) This course places the Harlem Renaissance in literary historical perspective as it seeks to answer the following questions: In what ways was "The New Negro" new? How did African American writers of the Harlem Renaissance rework earlier literary forms from the sorrow songs to the sermon and the slave narrative? How do the debates that raged during this period over the contours of a black aesthetic trace their origins to the concerns that attended the entry of African Americans into the literary public sphere in the eighteenth century? Ms. Dunbar.

228. African American Literature: "Vicious Modernism" and Beyond (1)

(Same as English 228b) In the famous phrase of Amiri Baraka, "Harlem is vicious/Modernism." Beginning with the modernist innovations of African American writers after the Harlem Renaissance, this course ranges from the social protest fiction of the 1940s through the Black Arts Movement to the postmodernist experiments of contemporary African American writers. Ms. Dunbar.

229. Black Intellectual History (1)

This course provides an overview of black intellectual thought and an introduction to critical race theory. It offers approaches to the ways in which black thinkers from a variety of nations and periods from the nineteenth century up to black modernity engage their intellectual traditions. How have their perceptions been shaped by a variety of places? How have their traditions, histories and cultures theorized race? Critics may include Aimé Césaire, Anna Julia Cooper, W.E.B. DuBois, Frantz Fanon, Paul Gilroy, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Ida B. Wells, and Patricia Williams. Ms. Célérier.

230. Creole Religions of the Caribbean (1)

(Same as Religion 230b) The Africa-derived religions of the Caribbean region—Haitian Vodou, Cuban Santería, Jamaican Obeah, Rastafarianism, and others—are foundational elements in the cultural development of the islands of the region. This course examines their histories, systems of belief, liturgical practices, and pantheons of spirits, as well as their impact on the history, literature, and music of the region. Ms. Paravisini-Gebert.

232. African American Cinema (1)

(Same as Film 232) Ms. Mask.

Not offered in 2011/12.

235. The Civil Rights Movement in the United States (1)

(Same as American Culture 235a.) In this interdisciplinary course, we examine the origins, dynamics, and consequences of the modern Civil Rights movement. We explore how the southern based struggles for racial equality and full citizenship in the U.S. worked both to dismantle entrenched systems of discrimination—segregation, disfranchisement, and economic exploitation—and to challenge American society to live up to its professed democratic ideals. Ms. Collins.

236. African Cinema: A Continental Survey (1)

(Same as Film 236) African national cinemas reflect the rich, complex history of the continent. These films from lands as diverse as Chad, Senegal and South Africa reveal the various ways filmmakers have challenged the representation of Africa and Africans while simultaneously revising conventional cinematic syntax. This survey course examines the internal gaze of African-born auteurs like Ousmane Sembene (Le Nor de Z, Xala, Mandabi), Djbril Diop Mambety (Hyenes), Desire Ecare (Faces of Women), Manthia Diawara (Conakry Kas), and Mahmat-Saleh Haroun (Bye-Bye Africa). It places these films alongside the external gaze of practitioners Euzan Palcy (A Dry White Season), Jean-Jacques Annaud (Noir et Blancs en Couleur) and Raoul Peck (Lummba). The films of documentary filmmakers Anne Laure Folly, Ngozi Onwurah and Pratibah Parmaar are also examined. This course utilizes the post-colonial film theory and scholarship of Imruh Bakari, Mbye Cham, Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike and Manthia Diawara. Screenings, readings and papers required. Ms. Mask.

Not offered in 2009/10.

242. Brazil, Society, Culture, and Environment in Portuguese America (1)

(Same as Geography 242b and Latin American and Latino/a Studies 242b) Brazil, long Latin America's largest and most populous country, has become an industrial and agricultural powerhouse with increasing political-economic clout in global affairs. This course examines Brazil's contemporary evolution in light of the country's historical geography, the distinctive cultural and environmental features of Portuguese America, and the political-economic linkages with the outside world. Specific topics for study include: the legacies of colonial Brazil; race relations, Afro-Brazilian culture, and ethnic identities; issues of gender, youth, violence, and poverty; processes of urban-industrial growth; regionalism and national integration; environmental conservation and sustainability; continuing controversies surrounding the occupation of Amazonia; and long-run prospects for democracy and equitable development in Brazil. Mr. Godfrey.

245. Ideologies and Black Politics in the Age of Obama (1)

(Same as Political Science 245a.) This course provides an introduction to the ideologies and political experiences of African Americans. There will be an overview of the black political experience in the U.S. primarily, with particular emphasis on issues of blackness, citizenship, voting, culture, urban and state politics, and the intersection of gender, class, and sexual identity in black political thought. The course concludes with an emphasis on contemporary African American politics with the election of President Barack Obama and beyond. The course considers the impact of Obama's election on future research and African American political opinion. W.E.B. DuBois, Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Ella Baker, Barack Obama, Michael Dawson, Patricia Hill Collins and Melissa Harris-Lacewell will be among the black theorists considered. Ms. Gregory.

246. French Speaking Cultures and Literatures of Africa and the Caribbean (1)

(Same as French 246.) What Does Francophone African Comic Art Say? African comic art comes in a variety of styles, languages, and formats. From the comic strip, found in newspapers and magazines, to developmental and political cartoons, it interfaces with journalism, painting, advertising, television, film and music. Having placed comic art in its theoretical context, we analyze the production of ‘bédéistes’ (cartoonists) from and on Africa, such as Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie's Aya de Yopougon, Edimo-Simon-Pierre Mbumbo's Malamine, un Africain à Paris, Pahé's La vie de Pahé, Serge Diantantu's Simon Kimbangu, Arnaud Floc'h's La compagnie des cochons and Stassen Les enfants. We also examine how cartoon characters such as Camphy Combo and Gorgooloo, respectively in Gbich! and Le Cafard Libéré, represent the complexities of francophone African urban society at the turn of the century. Ms. Célérier

Prerequisite: another 200-level course above French 206 or equivalent.

Not offered in 2011/12.

247. The Politics of Difference (1)

(Same as Political Science 247a.)

This course relates to the meanings of various group experiences in American politics. It explicitly explores, for example, issues of race, class, gender, disability, and sexual orientation. Among other things, this course addresses the contributions of the Critical Legal Studies Movement, the Feminist Jurisprudence Movement, the Critical Race Movement, and Queer Studies to the legal academy. Mr. Harris.

249. Latino/a Formations (1)

(Same as Latin American and Latino/a 249b. and Sociology 249b.) This course focuses on the concepts, methodologies and theoretical approaches for understanding the lives of those people who (im)migrated from or who share real or imagined links with Latin America and the Spanish-Speaking Caribbean. As such this course considers the following questions: Who is a Latino/a? What is the impact of U.S. political and economic policy on immigration? What is assimilation? What does U.S. citizenship actually mean and entail? How are ideas about Blackness, or race more generally, organized and understood among Latino/as? What role do heterogeneous identities play in the construction of space and place among Latino/a and Chicano/a communities? This course introduces students to the multiple ways in which space, race, ethnicity, class and gendered identities are imagined/formed in Latin America and conversely affirmed and/or redefined in the United States. Conversely, this course examines the ways in which U.S. Latina/o populations provide both economic and cultural remittances to their countries of origin that also help to challenge and rearticulate Latin American social and economic relationships. Mr. Alamo.

251. Topics in Black Literatures (1)

(Same as English 251) This course considers Black literatures in all their richness and diversity. The focus changes from year to year, and may include study of a historical period, literary movement, or genre. The course may take a comparative, diasporic approach or may examine a single national or regional literature. Topic for 2011/12a. and b.: Shawn Carter: Autobiography of an Autobiographer. Mr. Laymon.

252b. Writing the Diaspora: Verses/Versus (1)

(Same as English 252b) Black American cultural expression is anchored in rhetorical battles and verbal jousts that place one character against another. From sorrow songs to blues, black music has always been a primary means of cultural expression for African Americans, particularly during difficult social periods and transition. Black Americans have used music and particularly rhythmic verse to resist, express, and signify. Nowhere is this more evident than in hip hop culture generally and hip hop music specifically.

This semester's Writing the Diaspora class concerns itself with close textual analysis of hip-hop texts. Is Imani Perry right in claiming that Hip Hop is Black American music, or diasporic music? In addition to close textual reading of lyrics, students are asked to create their own hip-hop texts that speak to particular artists/texts and/or issues and styles raised. Mr. Laymon.

Prerequisites: one course in literature or Africana Studies.

253. The Arts of Central, Eastern, and Southern Africa (1)

(Same as Art 253b) This course explores the ways in which sculpture, textiles, painting, drawing, and photography function both historically and currently in relationship to particular themes such as religion, trade, and diaspora (both Atlantic and Indian Ocean), political power and healing. We also consider the visual arts in relationship to issues of improvisation, identity and self-representation, and forms of resistance. Ms. Brielmaier.

Prerequisites: Art 105-106.

254b. The Arts of Western and Northern Africa (1)

(Same as Art 254) This course is organized thematically and examines the ways in which sculpture, architecture, painting, and photography function both historically and currently in relationship to broader cultural issues. Within this context, this course explores performance and masquerade in relationship to gender, social, and political power. We also consider the connections between the visual arts and cosmology, Islam, identity, ideas of diaspora, colonialism and post-colonialism, as well as the representation of "Self" and the "Other." Ms. Brielmaier.

Prerequisite: Art 105-106.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2011/12.

255. Race, Representation, and Resistance in U.S. Schools (1)

(Same as Education, Sociology and Urban Studies 255b.) This course seeks to interrogate the intersections of race, racism and schooling in the US context. In this course, we examine this intersection at the site of educational policy, media (particularly urban school movies) and K12 curricula- critically examining how representations in each shape the experiences of youth in school. Expectations, beliefs, attitudes and opportunities reflect societal investments in these representations, thus becoming both reflections and riving forces of these identities. Central to these representations is how theorists, educators and youth take them on, own them and resist them in ways that constrain possibility or create spaces for hope. Ms. Cann.

Two 75-minute periods.

256. Race/Ethnicity/Nationalism (1)

(Same as International Studies 256 and Political Science 256) Conflicts over racial, ethnic and/or national identity continue to dominate headlines in diverse corners of the world. Whether referring to ethnic violence in Bosnia or Sri Lanka, racialized political tensions in Sudan and Fiji, the treatment of Roma (Gypsies) and Muslims in Europe, or the charged debates about immigration policy in the United States, cultural identities remain at the center of politics globally. Drawing upon multiple theoretical approaches, this course explores the related concepts of race, ethnicity and nationalism from a comparative perspective using case studies drawn from around the world and across different time periods. Mr. Mampilly.

Two 75-minute meetings.

259. Human Rights and Politics (1)

(Same as Political Science 259a) This course examines the growing international influence of human rights principles, documents, and organizations on politics. We study how human rights discourse has emerged as a major factor in modern politics and review the documents that serve as a basis drawn from Africa and the United States to explores issues such as universality versus cultural specificity of human rights discourses, civil and political rights versus cultural versus economic, social, and cultural rights, individual versus group rights, the crime of genocide, efforts to expand human rights law to include rights for children, women, gays, and lesbians and others, and the activities of national and international human rights organizations. Mr. Longman.

260. International Relations of the Third World (1)

(Same as International Studies 260b. and Political Science 260b.) Whether referred to as the "Third World," or other variants such as the "Global South," the "Developing World," the "G-77," the "Non-Aligned Movement," or the "Post- colonial World," a certain unity has long been assumed for the multitude of countries ranging from Central and South America, across Africa to much of Asia. Is it valid to speak of a Third World? What were/are the connections between countries of the Third World? What were/are the high and low points of Third World solidarity? And what is the relationship between the First and Third Worlds? Drawing on academic and journalistic writings, personal narratives, music, and film, this course explores the concept of the Third World from economic, political and cultural perspectives. Beginning shortly after the end of colonialism, we examine the trajectory of the Third World in global political debates through the end of the Cold War and start of the War on Terror. Mr. Mampilly.

264. African American Women's History (1)

(Same as Women's Studies 264) In this interdisciplinary course, we explore the roles of black women in the U.S. as thinkers, activists, and creators during the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. Focusing on the intellectual work, social activism, and cultural expression of a diverse group of African American women, we examine how they have understood their lives, resisted oppression, constructed emancipatory visions, and struggled to change society. Ms. Collins.

Not offered in 2011/12.

265. African American History to 1865 (1)

(Same as History 265a) This course provides an introduction to African American history from the Atlantic slave trade through the Civil War. African Americans had a profound effect on the historical development of the nation. The experiences of race and slavery dominate this history and it is the complexities and nuances of slavery that give this course its focus. This course examines key developments and regional differences in the making of race and slavery in North America, resistance movements among slaves and free blacks (such as slave revolts and the abolitionist movement) as they struggled for freedom and citizenship, and the multiple ways race and gender affected the meanings of slavery and freedom. This course is designed to encourage and develop skills in the interpretation of primary and secondary sources. Mr. Mills.

266. African American Arts and Artifacts (1)

(Same as Art 266) An introduction to the artistic and material production of African Americans in the U.S. from the colonial period to the present day. We examine multiple influences on (African, European, American, diasporic, etc.) and uses for black creative expression. Working with an expansive conception of art, we pay close attention to the work of formally and non-formally trained artists in relation to their social, cultural, aesthetic, and historical contexts. Ms. Collins.

Prerequisites: Art 105-106 or by permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2011/12.

267. African American History, 1865-Present (1)

(Same as History 267b) This course examines some of the key issues in African American history from the end of the civil war to the present by explicating selected primary and secondary sources. Major issues and themes include: Reconstruction and the meaning of freedom, military participation and ideas of citizenship, racial segregation, migration, labor, cultural politics, and black resistance and protest movements. This course is designed to encourage and develop skills in the interpretation of primary sources, such as letters, memoirs, and similar documents. The course format, therefore, consists of close reading and interpretation of selected texts, both assigned readings and handouts. Course readings are supplemented with music and film. Mr. Mills.

268. Sociology of Black Religion (1)

(Same as Religion 268a. and Sociology 268a.) A sociological analysis of a pivotal sector of the Black community, namely the Black churches, sects, and cults. Topics include slave religion, the founding of independent Black churches, the Black musical heritage, Voodoo, the Rastafarians, and the legacies of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. This course is taught to Vassar students and incarcerated men at the Otisville Correctional Facility. Mr. Mamiya.

271. Perspectives on the African Past: Africa Before 1800 (1)

(Same as History 271) A thematic survey of African civilizations and societies to 1800. The course examines how demographic and technological changes, warfare, religion, trade, and external relations shaped the evolution of the Nile Valley civilizations, the East African city-states, the empires of the western Sudan, and the forest kingdoms of West Africa. Some attention is devoted to the consequences of the Atlantic slave trade, which developed from Europe's contact with Africa from the fifteenth century onwards. Mr. Rashid.

Not offered in 2011/12.

272. Modern African History (1)

(Same as History 272b) A study of the major political, economic, social, and intellectual developments in the unfolding of the African experience from the early nineteenth century to the present time. Attention is directed to the broad spectrum of contacts of Africa with the outside world in trade, diplomacy, etc., prior to the nineteenth century. The course focuses on the rise of the Pan-African movement, African nationalism, the decolonization process, the emergence of independent African states, and the dilemmas of post-colonialism: neocolonialism, development issues and post-independence politics. Mr. Rashid.

273. Development Economics (1)

(Same as Economics 273b.) A survey of central issues in the field of Development Economics, this course examines current conditions in less developed countries using both macroeconomic and microeconomic analysis. Macroeconomic topics include theories of growth and development, development strategies (including export-led growth in Asia), and problems of structural transformation and transition. Household decision-making under uncertainty serves as the primary model for analyzing microeconomic topics such as the adoption of new technology in peasant agriculture, migration and urban unemployment, fertility, and the impact of development on the environment. Examples and case studies from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and transition economies provide the context for these topics. Ms. Jones.

Prerequisites: Economics 100 and 101.

275. Caribbean Discourse (1)

(Same as English 275b.) Study of the work of artists and intellectuals from the Caribbean. Analysis of fiction, non-fiction, and popular cultural forms such as calypso and reggae within their historical contexts. Attention to cultural strategies of resistance to colonial domination and to questions of community formation in the post-colonial era. May include some discussion of post-colonial literary theory and cultural studies. Ms. Yow.

277. Sea-Changes: Caribbean Rewritings of the British Canon (1)

(Same as English 277b) From William Shakespeare's The Tempest to James Joyce'sUlysses, the classic texts of the British literary canon have served as points of departure for Caribbean writers seeking to establish a dialogue between a colonial literary tradition and post-colonial national literatures. This course addresses the many re-writings of British texts by Caribbean authors from Roberto Fernandez Retamar's Caliban to Jamaica Kincaid's The Autobiography of My Mother. Texts may include Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, V.S. Naipaul's Guerillas, Micelle Michelle Cliff'sAbeng and No Telephone to Heaven, Maryse Conde's Windward Heights, and Riosario Ferre's Sweet Diamond Dust. Ms. Yow.

280a. Prisons, Community Reentry, and Critical issues in the Criminal Justice System (1/2)

This course examines the prison experience in the United States and critical issues in the criminal justice system in a prison setting with Vassar students and incarcerated men. The course provides historical overviews of the role of prisons in society and critical examinations of some relevant contemporary issues in criminal justice such as the death penalty, felon disenfranchisement, juveniles in adult prisons, children of incarcerated parents, and immigrants in prison.

The course meets on Thursday evenings for two hours. A number of field trips are scheduled to local and New York City agencies usually on Fridays.

Special permission required.

283b. Modernity and Reform in the Middle East: 1776 to Present(1)

(Same as Intl 283b.) Modernity and reform in the Middle East (1776 to the Present). This course traces the genealogy of socio-political reform movements across the past three centuries in the Middle East. The key moments that we will investigate span the colonial encounter, defensive modernization, the rise of nationalisms, and postcolonial nation-building. Our inquiry will culminate in an examination of the contemporary popular revolutions sweeping through the region in the wake of the failure of both the neocolonial enterprise and the postcolonial nation-state. Our goal is not only to analyze the different manifestations of this contested modernity, but also to explore the potential of our current historical moment in realigning regional and global hegemonies. We will rely on a host of primary and secondary sources delineating the chronology of historical developments and intellectual output. Mr. Hojairi, Mr. Mhiri.

289. Islam in History: Major Themes from the Early Muslim State and Society (570-1517) (1)

(Same as International Studies 289b.) This course is designed to introduce students to key moments in the history of Islam. It covers the period from the end of the sixth century AD, eve of the rise of Islam, until the early sixteenth century and the demise of the Mameluke Sultanate. The course is designed to familiarize students with major themes from the sociopolitical as well as the intellectual history of Islam in the period spanning from the rise of Islam until the modern era. The course explores the emergence of Islam as a world religion and the forces it set in motion; it also address Islamic civilization and its characteristic political, social, and religious institutions and intellectual traditions. The readings include a cross section of intellectual production, a myriad of cultural expressions as well as primary and secondary historical sources from the sixth century AD to the present. We examine a multitude of sources such as pre-Islamic poetry from the Arabian Peninsula, Quranic script, as well as theological, philosophical and scientific productions from the Medieval Islamic Empire. Mr. Hojairi.

Two 75-minute meetings.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

Individual or group field projects or internships. The department.

Unscheduled. May be selected during the academic year or during the summer.

297a or b. Reading Course (1/2)

297.04b. Psychology of Black Experience in White America.

297.05a. Multi-Ethnic Literature for Young Children: From Aesop to Zemach.

297.08a/b. Caribbean Politics.

297.09b. African Religions.

Note: prerequisites for all sections of 297, permission of instructor.

298a or b. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Individual or group project of reading or research. The department.

Unscheduled. May be selected during the academic year or during the summer.

299. Research Methods (1)

An introduction to the research methods used in the disciplines represented by Africana Studies. Through a variety of individual projects, students learn the approaches necessary to design projects, collect data, analyze results, and write research reports. The course includes some field trips to sites relevant to student projects. The emphasis is on technology and archival research, using the Library's new facilities in these areas. The course explores different ideas, theories and interdisciplinary approaches within Africana Studies that shape research and interpretation of the African and African diasporic experience. Students learn to engage and critically utilize these ideas, theories and approaches in a coherent fashion in their own research projects. They also learn how to design research projects, collect and analyze different types of data, and write major research papers. Emphasis is placed on collection of data through interviews and surveys as well as archival and new information technologies, using the facilities of Vassar libraries. The course includes some field trips to sites relevant to student projects. Required of majors and correlates, but open to students in all disciplines. Ms. Yow.

III. Advanced

300a or b. Senior Essay or Project (1)

307. Upper-Intermediate Arabic (1)

Upper-intermediate language and culture course in Modern Standard Arabic. Designed to consolidate students' reading and listening comprehension, and their oral skills at the intermediate-mid level of proficiency; and to help them reach intermediated- high level proficiency by the end of the course. Mr. Hojairi.

308. Upper-Intermediate Arabic (1)

Upper-intermediate language and culture course in Modern Standard Arabic. Designed to consolidate students' reading and listening comprehension, and their oral skills at the intermediate-mid level of proficiency; and to help them reach intermediated- high level proficiency by the end of the course. Mr. Hojairi.

310. Politics and Religion: Tradition and Modernization in the Third World (1)

(Same as Religion 310b.) An examination of the central problem facing all Third World and developing countries, the confrontation between the process of modernization and religious tradition and custom. Along with the social, economic, and political aspects, the course focuses on the problems of cultural identity and crises of meaning raised by the modernizing process. Selected case studies are drawn from Africa and Asia. Mr. Mamiya.

Prerequisite: Sociology/Religion 261 or Africana Studies 268, or 2 units in Religion or Africana Studies at the 200-level, or by permission of instructor.

313. Politics in Africa: Case Studies (1)

(Same as Political Science 313b) This advanced intermediate course offers an intensive study of the politics of a selected African country. The course analyzes the political history of the country and its formal state structures before focusing on the most salient contemporary political issues, such as democratization, corruption, and political stability, human rights and transitional justice, gender, race, ethnicity and other aspects of identity politics, and economic development and inequality. The concentrated focus on a single case allows students to explore how the diverse themes and methodologies of comparative politics are applied in a real world setting. The country of focus varies annually.

319. Race and Its Metaphors (1)

(Same as English 319a.) Re-examinations of canonical literature in order to discover how race is either explicitly addressed by or implicitly enabling to the texts. Does racial difference, whether or not overtly expressed, prove a useful literary tool? The focus of the course varies from year to year.

Topic for 2011/12a: Fictions of Black Urbanism in the Post-War United States (Bodies and Belonging; Borders and Mobility) “If you’re born black in America you must quickly teach yourself to recognize the invisible barriers disciplining the space in which you may move.” -John Edgar Wideman, Brothers and Keepers . Cultural history encourages that we start thinking about blackness and the American city after the Great War had ended. By 1945, the second migration of African Americans from the agrarian rural south and the challenges present therein—exploitative sharecropping contracts, failing agribusiness, and Klan violence—had reached tsunamic proportions. Their journeys landed them in cities such as New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Indianapolis, Newark; cities whose residents and industrial infrastructure made blacks optimistic about their social and economic prospects. Many African Americans were able to take advantage of this “urban hospitality” and found American promise in the decades after the war. Unfortunately, these migrants did not suspect that this period of prosperity came with an expiration date. By the time Wideman issues the existential caveat for African Americans in 1984 (above), many of these metropolitan spaces have lost the capability to accommodate black needs. Shifts in the global economy—among them, corporations realizing that advances in transportation and technology made space and distance less encumbering in producing and delivering goods—divested these cities of their productive responsibilities. With less of a need to produce, these urban centers had less of a need to employ the blacks that relied on them for wages upon which they could build their American dreams and hopes. What was once an urban refuge for blacks became in a short time a space of desperation and repression. In fact, one could say that cities became carceral. This phenomenon most definitely inspired the stark warning that John Wideman felt he needed to submit to his readers in the mid-1980s. This course aims to explore how African American creative artists have staged black encounter with the American city. None of the fictionists we will study this semester conceives of the metropolis in the same way and this diversity of urban visions will greatly enrich our discussion. Allow the following inquiries, however, to tame and shape your study of what may appear to be seemingly disparate voices and perspectives. To what extent do these fictional blacks feel at home in their cities? Does the city—through its public places (bars, salons) and private spaces (apartments, churches)--appear so inhospitable that it hinders these characters from making a claim on the place they (must) live? How is the black body read and understood in the urban environment? How are black characters read by those who perceive them? How do they perceive themselves? Finally, if we understand black urban spaces as carceral constructs, what factors allow characters movement and transport? Do these characters ever transcend the immobility that the metropolis seeks to impose upon them? Mr. Simpson.

Prerequisite:Open to juniors and seniors with 2 units of 200-level work in English; or, for juniors and seniors without this prerequisite, 2 units of work in allied subjects and permission from the associate chair of English.

One 2 hour meeting.

320. Up From Slavery: Schooling and Socialization of Blacks in America (1)

(Same as Education 320a) This course is devoted to both theoretical and empirical issues in the schooling of Black America from primary through post-secondary levels—eighteenth century to the present in the rural and urban environment. Students become familiar with major sociological themes in the study of education: socialization and learning; social and cultural determinants of academic performance; relationships between families and schools; inequality; the "culture'' of the school and problems of change; institutional racism; and politicalization and social policy. Ms. Bickerstaff.

Prerequisite: 2 units of Education or Africana Studies or by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

321. Cross-Cultural Studies in Education: Policy, Politics, Power(1)

(Same as Education 321) A comparative study of education and schooling in selected contemporary societies—United States, Africa, Asia, South America. Through the case-study method, this seminar examines formal educational institutions from preschool to post-secondary education. Educational ideology and practice as reflected in curriculum and school organization are reviewed. Within the United States, the schooling of culturally different populations is studied. Among them are: Appalachian, Native American, black urban (north and south), and elite white independent schools. Ms. Bickerstaff.

Prerequisite: 2 units of coursework from the social science division, Africana Studies, or by permission of instructor.

326. Challenging Ethnicity (1)

(Same as English 326b) An exploration of literary and artistic engagements with ethnicity. Contents and approaches vary from year to year.

330. Black Metropolis: Caste and Class in Urban America 1800 to Present (1)

The migration of African Americans from the rural south to the urban North in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century America was one of the most significant internal mass movements in modern urban history. This seminar traces the historical antecedents of the great migration and examines the social, cultural, economic, and political dynamics and consequences of this extraordinary demographic shift within black communities and the larger society. Using the case study method, selected cities are drawn from urban centers in the south and the north. Themes and locations vary from year to year. Ms. Bickerstaff.

352. Seminar on Multiculturalism in Comparative Politics (1)

(Same as Political Science 352) This seminar explores the political significance of social diversity in comparative perspective. Drawing on a range of cases, the course investigates the sources of identity-based social and political conflicts, focusing in particular on racial, ethnic, and national identities. The course also studies possible means of accommodating diversity and promoting reconciliation through public policies such as affirmative action, economic development, constitutional reform, memorials and commemorations, truth commissions, and trials. After looking at theories of identity politics and accommodation of diversity, the course focuses on country case studies. Countries studied may include the United States, South Africa, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Somalia, Brazil, and India.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

353. Pedagogies of Difference: Critical Approaches to Education(1)

(Same as Education 353a.) Pedagogies of difference are both theoretical frameworks and classroom practices- enacting a social justice agenda in one's educational work with learners. In this course, we think deeply about various anti-oppressive pedagogies- feminist, queer and critical race- while situating this theory in our class practicum. Thus, this course is about pedagogies of difference as much as it is about different pedagogies that result. We will address how different pedagogies such as hip hop pedagogy, public pedagogy and Poetry for the People derive from these pedagogies of difference. The culminating signature assessment for this course is collaborative work with local youth organizations. Ms. Cann.

Prerequisite: Education 235 or permission of the instructor.

354. Seminar in African Art (1)

(Same as Art 354b.) Contemporary African Photography and Video. This seminar explores the development of contemporary photographic and video practices as they relate to Africa. Organized thematically, it focuses on the individual case studies, artists, and exhibitions that comprise the dynamic and international realm of contemporary photo and video by artists living inside and outside of the African continent. Emphasis is placed on the changing significance and role of photography within African and trans-African contexts. As a part of this process, we consider issues of representation; documentation, critiques, and re-framing of socio-political issues and global relations; the visual articulation of racial, ethnic, gendered and religious identities; as well as aesthetic ideas, performance and the role of varied audiences and reception. Ms. Brielmaier.

Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2011/12.

360. Black Business and Social Movements in the Twentieth Century (1)

(Same as History 360b.)

From movies to music, bleaching cream to baseball, black entrepreneurs and consumers have historically negotiated the profits and pleasures of a "black economy" to achieve economic independence as a meaning of freedom. This seminar examines the duality of black businesses as economic and social institutions alongside black consumers' ideas of economic freedom to offer new perspectives on social and political movements in the twentieth-century. We explore black business activity and consumer activism as historical processes of community formation and economic resistance, paying particular attention to black capitalism, consumer boycotts, and the economy of black culture in the age of segregation. Topics include the development of the black beauty industry; black urban film culture; the Negro Baseball League; Motown and the protest music of the 1960s and 1970s; the underground economy; and federal legislation affecting black entrepreneurship. Mr. Mills

One 2-hour period.

362. Text and Image (1)

(Same as English 362)

Explores intersections and interrelationships between literary and visual forms such as the graphic novel, illustrated manuscripts, tapestry, the world-wide web, immersive environments, the history and medium of book design, literature and film, literature and visual art. Topics vary from year to year.

Topic for 2011/12b: Because Dave Chappelle Said So. From Hip Hop to Paul Beatty's White Boy Shuffle to Spike Lee's Bamboozled to Dave Chappelle to Aaron McGruder's Boondocks to Sacha Baron Cohen's Ali G character, black masculinity seems to be a contemporary site of massive satire. This course explores the history, style, content and movement of black, mostly male, satirical comic narratives and characters. Using postmodernism as our critical lens, we explore what black satirical characters and narratives are saying through "tragicomedy" to the mediums of literature, film, television and comics, and to the ideals of morality, democracy, sexuality, femininity and masculinity. Are these narratives and characters, while asserting some sort of critical citizenship, actually writing black women's subjectivity, narratives and experience out of popular American textual history? Does satire have masculinist underpinnings? How are these texts and characters communicating with each other and is there a shared language? Is there a difference between a black comic text and a black satirical text? These are some of the questions we explore in "Because Dave Chappelle Said So." Mr. Laymon.

365. Race and the History of Jim Crow Segregation (1)

(Same as History 365) This seminar examines the rise of racial segregation sanctioned by law and racial custom from 1865 to 1965. Equally important, we explore the multiple ways African Americans negotiated and resisted segregation in the private and public spheres. This course aims toward an understanding of the work that race does, with or without laws, to order society based on the intersection of race, class and gender. Topics include: disfranchisement, labor and domesticity, urbanization, public space, education, housing, history and memory, and the lasting effects of sanctioned segregation. We focus on historical methods of studying larger questions of politics, resistance, privilege and oppression. We also explore interdisciplinary methods of studying race and segregation, such as critical race theory. Music and film supplement classroom discussions. Mr. Mills.

366b. Art and Activism: Aimé Césaire: A Voice for LIBÉRATION(1)

(Same as American Culture and Art 366) Creativity and Politics During the Jazz Age and the Great Depression. Focusing on the experiences and representations of African Americans in the U.S., this seminar examines the arts, institutions, and ideas of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and New Deal projects of the 1930s and 1940s. Analyzing paintings, sculptures, photographs, novels, folk arts, murals, illustrations, manifestos, films, performances, and various systems of patronage, we explore relationships between art, politics, and society. Ms. Collins.

Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2010/11.

369. Major Third World Author: Fanon (1)

(Same as English 369)

One 2-hour meeting.

373. Slavery and Abolition in Africa (1)

(Same as History 373b.) The Trans-Saharan and the Atlantic slave trade transformed African communities, social structures, and cultures. The seminar explores the development, abolition, and impact of slavery in Africa from the earliest times to the twentieth century. The major conceptual and historiographical themes include indigenous servitude, female enslavement, family strategies, slave resistance, abolition, and culture. The seminar uses specific case studies as well as a comparative framework to understand slavery in Africa. Mr. Rashid.

374. The African Diaspora and the Making of the Pan-African Movement 1900-2000 (1)

(Same as History 374) This seminar investigates the social origins, philosophical and cultural ideas, and the political forms of Pan-Africanism from the late nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century. It explores how disaffection and resistance against slavery, racism and colonial domination in the Americas, Caribbean, Europe, and Africa led to the development of a global movement for the emancipation of peoples of African descent from 1900 onwards. The seminar examines the different ideological, cultural, and organizational manifestations of Pan-Africanism as well as the scholarly debates on development of the movement. Readings include the ideas and works of Edward Blyden, Alexander Crummell, W. E. B. Dubois, Marcus Garvey, Amy Garvey, C.L.R. James, and Kwame Nkmmah. Mr. Rashid.

Special permission.

Not offered in 2011/12.

375. Seminar in Women's Studies:Gender and the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. (1)

(Same as American Culture and Women's Studies 375) Topic for 2011/2012: Gender and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. In this interdisciplinary course, we examine the modern civil rights movement in the U.S. by foregrounding the roles and experiences of women, particularly African American women. Attentive to issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality, we study the various constraints on--and possibilities for--women activists during the movement, and theorize the impact of women's activism on U.S. society. Ms. Collins

Special permission.

One 2-hour session.

384b. Advanced Seminar in Education (1)

(Same as Education and Sociology 384) This course examines topics on a specific theme within the broad field of educational theory, policy, and practice. Designed for advanced students in education, the topics vary from semester to semester, and may include the following: politics of education, history of education, economics and education, educational policy, privatization and education, bilingual and bicultural education. Ms. Cann.

Prerequisite: Education 162 or 235.

One 2-hour meeting.

386. Exodus and Revolution:Violence and Religious Narrative (1)

(Same as Religion 386)

This seminar will explore the way a single biblical story, the story of the Israelite exodus from Egypt, has influenced politics, literature, and identity formation. Central to the class will be political philosopher Michael Walzer's claim that the Exodus provides a paradigm of social democratic politics. We will interrogate Walzer's claim by examining the story's in an array of contexts. We will consider the role that Exodus played in the construction of American political identity and Latin American liberation theology. Particular attention will be paid to the role of Exodus in African American political and religious traditions. Finally, the class will broach more theoretical questions about the role of violence and religion in creating conceptions of nation and peoplehood. Does the demand for a paradigm, particularly a paradigm like Exodus with its emphasis on chosenness and messianism, produce distasteful politics in the process? Mr. Kahn.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Senior independent study program to be worked out in consultation with an instructor. The department.