Africana Studies Program

Director: Ismail Rashid (History and Africana Studies); Professors: Lawrence Mamiya (Africana Studies and Religion), Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert (Hispanic Studies); Associate Professors:Joyce Bickerstaff (Africana Studies and Education), Patricia Pia-Célérier (French), Lisa Collins (Art), Diane Harriford (Sociology), Timothy Longman (Africana Studies and Political Science), Mia Mask (Film), Ismail Rashid (History and Africana Studies); Assistant Professors: Eve Dunbar (English), Sarita Gregory (Political Science), Kiese Laymon (English), Candice Lowe (Anthropology), Zachariah Mampilly (Political Science), Quincy Mills (History), Tyrone Simpson (English), Laura Yow (English); Adjunct Assistant Professor: Dennis Reid; Visiting Assistant Professor: Mootacem Mhiri; Visiting Instructor: Peggy Piesche (German Studies)

The Africana Studies program is the oldest multidisciplinary program at Vassar College. The program is concerned with 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 I 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 on Arabic literature (Africana Studies 203 or 205) or another approved appropriate alternative course.

I. Introductory

102b. 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.

105a. Issues In Africana Studies(1)

Topic for 2009/10a: Black Is/Black Ain't: Black Identities from Afrocentrism and Beyond. This is a course about self-creation. From folktales about tricky rabbits to films that highlight the impossible reality of being gay and black at the same time, this course is an exploration into how black people have made/remade themselves through telling the stories of their lives. Using different modes of group identification (such as Afrocentrism, feminism, queerness, hip hop, etc.) we'll explore the mutability of black identity as we attempt to answer questions like: why might one assume an afrocentric identity; how do aesthetics (clothing, music and art) mark one as having a particular relationship to "blackness"; what does "Africa" mean to members of the black diaspora; is it possible to not be black enough; and do non-black people engage black identities? Course may include works by Molefi Asante, Frantz Fanon, Toni Morrison, Danzy Senna, Kara Walker, Richard Wright and others. Ms. Dunbar

Topic for 2009/10a: The African Diaspora and the Caribbean. This course offers an overview of the pivotal role played by the forced migration of enslaved Africans on the development of the societies and cultures of the Caribbean region. We examine the economic, political, and social development of the region with a focus on the lasting legacy of slavery and the plantation. Among the topics covered are colonialism, race and class, ethnicity, post-colonialism, migration, transnationalism, popular culture, and religion. Ms. Paravisini-Gebert.

106-107. 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.

Open to all students.

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

[ 108a. Introduction to the African Literary Traditions ](1)

Examines the works of a number of African writers, both orally transmitted texts—such as folklore and poetry—and written genres, and their cultural influence and impact upon European concepts about Africans before and during the Renaissance, including the period of the 800 years of Moorish/Muslim rule of Iberia. It also investigates how contemporary African writers have tried to revive a sense of the African cultural continuum in old and new literary works. Writers include: Horus, St. Augustine, Ibn Khaldun, Achebe, Ba, Ngugi, Neto, Abrahams, Mazrui, and Salih.

Not offered in 2009/10.

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

(Same as Education 160a and b) 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.

183a. Images, Objects, and African Americans(1)

(Same as Art 183a) In this interdisciplinary freshman seminar, we examine images and objects created by African Americans in the United States from the slave past to the present day. Working with an expansive conception of art, we pay close attention to the work of formally trained and non-formally trained creators in relation to their social, cultural, artistic, and historical contexts. Ms. Collins.

Open to freshman. Satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

II. Intermediate

202b. Black Music(1)

(Same as Music 202b) 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. Mr. Reid.

Arab American Literature

(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 U.S., 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. The authors studied include: Khalil Bigran, Elia Abu Madi, Mikhail Naimy, Joseph Geha, Diana Abu Jaber, Naomi Shihab Nye and Suheir Hammad. Mr. Mhiri.

Not offered in 2009/10.

207a/208b. Intermediate Arabic(1)

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

[ 210b. Comparative Perspectives on African Literature ](1)

African literatures written in English and in French have tended to be considered as separate entities. The purpose of this course is to question that divide by studying specific novels, ranging from 1953-2004, in dialogue with one another. Related films are shown and discussed. Works studied are Chinua Achebe's (Nigeria) Things Fall Apart (1958), Ahmadou Kourouma's (Ivory Coast) The Suns of Independence (1968, trad. 1981), Camara Laye's (Guinea) The Dark Child: Autobiography of an African Boy (1953, trad. 1954), Wole Soyinka's (Nigeria) Ake: The Years of Childhood (1981), Mongo Beti's (Cameroon) Perpetua and the Habit of Unhappiness (1953, trad. 1978), Ayi Kewi Armah's (Ghana) The Beautiful One Are Not Yet Born (1988), Aminata Sow Fall's (Senegal) The Beggars Strike (1981), Helon Habila's (Nigeria) Waiting for an Angel (2004), Buddhi Emecheta's (Nigeria/England) The New Tribe (2000) and Calixthe Beyala's (Cameroon/France) Loukoum: The Little Prince of Belleville (1992, trad. 1998). Ms. Célérier.

Not offered in 2009/10.

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

(Same as Religion 211) 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), the Iranian revolution, South Africa, slave religion, and aspects of feminist theology. Mr. Mamiya.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 212a/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.

Not offered in 2009/10.

215b. Plays of the Black Diaspora/Performing the Black Diaspora(1)

(Same as Drama 215b) Through comedy, tragedy, and satire, playwrights from Africa, Europe, United Kingdom, and the Caribbean have dramatized the rich heritage and vibrant cultures of the Black Diaspora. The course explores the forms and themes of black theater. It examines the evolution of the black theatre from the African grove, to urban "chitlin" circuits, and contemporary Black theater. It discusses how playwrights of the black Diaspora have dealt with issues like myth, identity, gender, spirituality, love, and ownership. Works studied include plays by Wole Soyinka, August Wilson, Derek Walcott, Susan Lori Parks, Alice Childress, Pearl Cleage, Ed Bulolins, Athol Fugard, Lorraine Hansbury, Lynn Nottage, Dipo Abgoluage and Errol Hill. Mr. Reid.

218a. Literature, Gender, and Sexuality(1)

(Same as English 218a and Women's Studies 218a) The course considers matters of gender and sexuality in literary texts, criticism, and theory. The focus varies from year to year, and may include study of a historical period, literary movement, or genre; constructions of masculinity and femininity; sexual identities; or representations of gender in relation to race and class.

Topic for 2009/10: Black Feminism. This course examines the development and history of black feminism in the United States. Through reading works of fiction, memoir, and theory, we explore the central concerns of the black feminist movement, and consider black feminism's response to Civil Rights, Black Nationalism, and white feminism. Authors may include Anna Julia Cooper, Angela Davis, Bell Hooks, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison and others. Ms. Dunbar.

227a. 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.

228b. 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.

229b. Black Intellectual History(1)

(Same as Sociology 229) 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. Mr. Simpson.

[ 230b. 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.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 232b. African American Cinema ](1)

(Same as Film 232b) Ms. Mask.

Not offered 2009/10.

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

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.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 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.

242b. 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.

[ 250a. African Politics ](1)

(Same as Political Science 250) This course introduces students to the great diversity of peoples, ideas, cultures, and political practices found on the African continent. The course first investigates the causes of the contemporary social, economic, and political challenges facing African states, and then analyzes the ways in which African populations have responded to foreign domination, authoritarian government, unfavorable economic conditions, and social divisions. The course uses case studies of African countries to explore political issues within specific contexts and pays particular attention to international involvement in Africa. 

Not offered in 2008/09.

251a. Topics in Black Literatures(1)

(Same as English 251a) 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. Laura Yow.

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.

253b. 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, or one 200-level course in Africana Studies or by permission of the instructor.

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

(Same as Art 254a) 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.

Prerequisites: Art 105-106, or one 200-level course in Africana Studies, or by permission of the instructor.

[ 256. Environment and Culture in the Caribbean ](1)

(Same as Environmental Studies 256) The ecology of the islands of the Caribbean has undergone profound changes since the arrival of Europeans to the region in 1492. This course traces the history of the relationship between ecology and culture from pre-Columbian civilizations to the economies of tourism. Among the specific topics of discussion are Arawak and Carib notions of nature and conservation of natural resources; the impact of deforestation and changes in climate; the plantation economy as an ecological revolution; the political implications of the tensions between the economy of the plot and that of the plantation; the development of environmental conservation and its impacts on notions of nationhood; the ecological impact of resort tourism; and the development of eco-tourism. These topics are examined through a variety of materials: historical documents, essays, art, literature, music and film. Ms. Paravisini-Gebert.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 259a. 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.

[ 263b. Words of Fire: African American Orators and Their Orations ](1)

Like their African counterparts, African Americans have an urgent concern with the intellectual and emotive force of the word in the appropriate socio-political context. Sound, meaning, and manner of speaking the language undergirds the structure of human relationships in oratory within and outside the African American community, from its African origins through slavery, Reconstruction, the Jim Crow Era, Civil Rights up through the period of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Congressional Black Caucus. The oral traditions of African Americans is a vernacular art form experienced from the preacher pulpit, the political stump, the legislative halls, the street corner, and the theatrical stage. Ms. Bickerstaff.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 264b. 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 and twentieth 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 vision, and struggles to change society. Ms. Collins.

Not offered 2009/10.

265a. 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.

[ 266b. 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 2009/10.

267b. 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 268 and Sociology 268) 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. Mr. Mamiya.

Not offered in 2009/10.

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

(Same as History 271) A survey of traditional African history with an emphasis on the Nile Valley civilizations, Ethiopia, the Sudan Kingdoms, the advent of Islam, the Swahili city-states of Southeast Africa, and the early society of central and southern Africa prior to 1800. This course examines the dramatic post-World War II issues and trends in the historiography relating to pre-colonial Africa. Mr. Rashid.

Not offered in 2009/10.

272b. 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.

273b. 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.

[ 275b. Caribbean Discourse ](1)

(Same as English 275) 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.

Not offered 2009/10.

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

(Same as English 277b) From William Shakespeare's The Tempest to James Joyce's Ulysses, 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. Among the texts to be discussed are Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, V.S. Naipaul's Guerillas, Micelle Michelle Cliff's Abeng and No Telephone to Heaven, Maryse Conde's Windward Heights, and Riosario Ferre's Sweet Diamond Dust. Ms. Yow.

285b. From Homer to Omeros(1)

(Same as Classics 285b) In this postcolonial era, when the study of classics repeatedly comes under fire for being the irrelevant and outdated province of "dead white males," the work of the Caribbean poet Derek Walcott reminds us that it is possible to be engaged in a study of the classical tradition from a critical yet creative perspective. One of the most recent and most exciting poets to seek a direct relationship with the Homeric poems in his work, Walcott has authored both a stage version of the Odyssey and a modern epic, Omeros. In this course we devote ourselves to a close reading of these works alongside the appropriate sections of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, with a view towards understanding some of the complexities of Walcott's use of the Homeric models. Ms. Friedman.

286b. At Home on the Road; Tracing the African Diaspora in Germany(1)

(Same as German 286b) Though people of African descent have lived in Germany for more than a century, their existence has largely been overlooked by scholars and the German public alike. Yet their history has much to tell us about the construction of race and racial politics in German identity as well as the vagaries of the African Diaspora in Europe. From Hans-Jurgen Massaquoi's time in the Hitler Youth to black feminist and lesbian organizing in contemporary Berlin, this course examines the efforts by Germans of African descent to document their experiences and articulate a black subjectivity. Special attention is given to the representations of blackness and the Black Diaspora that have circulated in German films, comics, music videos and photography over the past two centuries. Readings are drawn from such authors as May Ayim, Raja Lubinetzki, Ika Hegel-Marshal, Aisha Blackshire-Belay, Maisha Eggers, Fatima El-Tayeb, Tina Campt, Leroy T. Hopkins, Etienne Balibar and Paul Gilroy. Ms. Piesche.

Readings and discussions are in English.

Open to all classes.

287b. Visualizing Islamic North Africa(1)

This course examines the negotiation of cultural space and the formation of Muslim visual identity as exemplified in the religious and secular architecture of North Africa (Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia), from the formative period of Islam to the recent North African immigration to Europe, which has been on the rise since the 1980's. Developments in North Africa are further contextualized by reference to the preceding and contemporaneous art and architecture of the Middle East, as well as the visual culture of immigrant Muslim communities in Spain. Ms. Bush

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.

290a/b. 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.

290a/b. Advanced Internship in The 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 Sunday per month 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Reading Courses

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

[ 297.04b. Psychology of Black Experience in White America ](1/2)

Not offered 2009/10.

[ 297.05a. Multi-Ethnic Literature for Young Children: From Aesop to Zemach ](1/2)

Not offered 2009/10.

[ 297.08a/b. Caribbean Politics ](1/2)

Not offered 2009/10.

[ 297.09b. African Religions ](1/2)

Not offered 2009/10.

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.

299a. 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. Mr. Rashid.

III. Advanced

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

308b. Upper-Intermediate Arabic(1)

Advanced intermediate study of Arabic based on reading comprehension of authentic texts from the Arab multi- and print media, and accessible literary masterpieces; in addition to a review of basic grammar and introduction of more complex structures. Strong emphasis is placed on developing students' written and oral expression. Mr. Mhiri.

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

(Same as Religion 310) 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.

Not offered 2009/10.

313b. Politics in Africa: Case Studies(1)

(Same as African Studies 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. Mr. Longman.

[ 319b. Race and Its Metaphors ](1)

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

Not offered in 2009/10.

320a. 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.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 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.

Not offered 2009/10.

African American Migrations: Movement, Creativity, Struggle, and Change

(Same as Urban Studies 345) In this interdisciplinary seminar, we examine the Great Migration (1916-1930) and the second Great Migration (1940-1970), the twentieth-century search by millions of black southerners for opportunity, safety, and full citizenship in the cities of the Northeast, Midwest, and West. Focusing on the actions, expressions, and thoughts of migrants, we explore how migrants experienced their lives, expressed their desires, and understood society. By analyzing things such as the organizing of factory and domestic workers, the blues sung by black women, the creation of urban legends and lore, and the investigative journalism of African American newspapers and civil rights organizations, we study links between movement, creativity, struggle, and change. Ms. Collins.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 352b. Seminar on Multiculturalism in Comparative Politics ](1)

(Same as Political Science 352b) 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. Mr. Longman.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered 2009/10.

[ 354a. Seminar in African Art ](1)

(Same as Art 354a)

Topic for 2009/10: The 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 2009/10.

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

(Same as History 365) Mr. Mills.

Not offered 2009/10.

366b. Seminar in African American Art and Cultural History(1)

(Same as Amcl 366b, and Art 366b)

Topic for 2009/10: Creativity and Politics During the Jazz Age and the Great Depression. Focusing on the relationships between visual culture and social movements in the U.S., this seminar examines the arts, institutions, and ideas of the Black Arts Movement and the Women's Art Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Analyzing paintings, photographs, posters, quilts, collages, murals, manifestos, mixed-media works, installations, films, performances, and various systems of creation, collaboration, and display, we explore connections between art, politics, and society. Ms. Collins.

Prerequisite: permission of instructor. One 2-hour period.

One 2-hour period.

[ 369. Major Third World Author ](1)

Not offered 2009/10.

373a. Slavery and Abolition in Africa(1)

(Same as History 373a) 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.

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

(Same as History 374b) 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 2009/10.

386a. 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.
Offered in 2009-10.

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.