The Carter G. Woodson Institute, U.Va.

The Carter G. Woodson Institute

for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia

Course Listing

Fall 2017 Undergraduate Courses

Course Descriptions

AAS 1010 Introduction to African American and African Studies I (4)

Instructor: Kwame E. Otu

Tues./Tues. 12:30-1:45, Minor Hall 125

This introductory course surveys the histories of people of African descent in Africa, the Americas, and the Caribbean from approximately the Middle Ages to the 1850s. Emphases include the Atlantic slave trade and its complex relationship to Africa; the economic systems, cultures, and communities of Africans and African-Americans in the New World, in slavery and in freedom; and the rise of anti-slavery movements in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The first section provides an overview of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its impacts on Africa. The second section centers on Latin America (Brazil and Cuba) and the French Caribbean - Haiti. The last section deals with North America, tracing the history of slavery from the seventeenth to the late eighteenth century. Course requirements include regular attendance in lecture and discussion section, and three written exams.

AAS 2224-001 Black Femininities and Masculinities in the US Media (3)

Instructor: Lisa Shutt

Thurs. 2:00-4:30, Mcleod Hall 2005

This course will address the role the media has played in creating images and understandings of “Blackness” in the United States, particularly where it converges with popular ideologies about gender. We will explore how different media, including feature films, popular television, documentaries, popular fiction, television, and print news media create categories of race and gender in different ways for (different) Americans – each medium encapsulating its own markers of legitimacy and expertise – each negotiating its own ideas of authorship and audience. We will concentrate on the particular ways various media produce, display, and disseminate information; in particular, we will be analyzing cultural texts, the cultural environment in which they have been produced, and the audience reception of those texts. Finally, we will ask what responsibilities those who create and circulate information have –and whether or not the consuming/viewing public shares in any sort of responsibility. This class will enable students to cultivate theoretical tools and critical perspectives to analyze and question the influence of the popular media that saturate our lives.

AAS 3500-003  Race, Medicine and Incarceration (3)

Instructor: Talitha LeFlouria

Wed. 3:30-6:00, New Cabell Hall 303

The social history of medicine in the black experience has a long and seedy background. This course offers a three tiered approach to understanding the history of black incarceration (broadly defined) and the ways in which the captive black body has functioned as a site of medical exploitation and profit from the period of slavery to the present. Using medicine, race, and gender as critical categories of analysis, this course is designed to help students better understand how the male and female slave, prisoner, asylum “inmate,” and unclaimed “indigent” black body contributed to the development of modern medicine, as experimental subjects and autopsy specimens. Some of the subjects discussed include: the history of slavery and medicine in the American South, the post-Civil War medical crisis in the black community, the rise of convict leasing and the New South penal medical economy, Jim Crow and medical (in)justice in late 19th century America, the rise of the early 20th century eugenics movement and its impact on incarcerated subjects, prison photography and the black body as spectacle and specimen in the modern era, and a host of other related topics. This course is tailored to students interested in the sciences and humanities, and will prove useful for those pursuing careers in the medical profession.

AAS 3500-004 Social Science Perspectives on African American Studies (3)

Instructor: Sabrina Pendergrass

Tues./Thurs. 2:00-3:15, New Cabell Hall 407

Are black students who do well in school accused of “acting white”? Do middle-class blacks feel a shared fate with low-income blacks? How do the political views of black youth differ from those of older blacks? We will address these and other questions in AAS 3500. In this course, you will learn about major debates across the social sciences that contribute to African American and African Studies. We will draw on readings from sociology, political science,psychology, public health, anthropology, law, economics, and media studies. We will consider how a multidisciplinary approach enriches our efforts to analyze issues such as health disparities, education, or incarceration as they relate to the African diaspora

AAS 3500-005 White Liberalism and the Black Writer (3)

Instructor: Petal Samuel

Tues./Thurs. 11:00-12:15, New Cabell Hall 364

Reviews of Jordan Peele’s 2017 film Get Out in The Guardian, The Root, The New York Times, and Vice praise the film as a sharp and timely critique of white liberalism—what the reviews describe variously as “nice racism” or “self-congratulating” allyship—re-emerging in the wake of the Obama presidency. However, black writers and activists across the globe have long grappled with the limits of white allyship long prior to the Obama era. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail” warned of the dangers of the “white moderate” who prefers the “absence of tension” to the “presence of justice”. Ama Ata Aidoo’s 1977 Our Sister Killjoyfollows a young Ghanaian girl’s reflections on racism and colonialism as she experiences subtle, yet pernicious, forms of racism while on an ostensibly benevolent state-sponsored trip to Germany.

In this class, we will examine the figure of the white liberal in literature, the arts, and media, focusing on the ways they are described and represented by black writers and artists. We will ask: What is white liberalism? How and why does it come to be understood as an ideological position that is dangerous or hostile to movements for social, political, and economic equality? We will examine a wide range of texts—novels, poetry, music, visual art, and film—be writers and artists such as Ama Ata Aidoo, Jamaica Kincaid, Solange, and Jordan Peele.

AAS 3559-001 Revolutionary Struggles in the African Atlantic (3)

Instructor: Kwame E. Otu

Mon. 3:30-6:00, New Cabell Hall 415

In this course, we will grapple with the concept of struggle, as it pertains to Africans’ desire to wrestle themselves from the interlocking white supremacist systems of colonialism, enslavement, apartheid, and racialized capitalism. How, we will consider, has the desire to be “free” from these systems of oppression defined black identities both in Africa and its myriad diasporas? Our goal is to work together to comprehend blackness as struggle, and to amplify how black bodies continue to contend with anti-black regimes spawned by enslavement, colonial oppression, and apartheid. Focusing on places like South Africa to Brazil to the USA to England, and from Haiti to Guinea, we shall emphasize how in the afterlives of slavery, colonialism, and apartheid, white supremacist structures and infrastructures continue to legitimize black death. In the face of death, nevertheless, the struggle to live a dignified life, and to be free from white supremacy continue to define black experiences in neocolonial and neoliberal scenes of empire. Understanding that this struggle is revolutionary, we shall tackle how the fight for freedom from white supremacy is constitutively part of the desire to be free from heteropatriarchal nationalism and sexism, homonegativity, and racialized capitalism. Thus, we will ask: How do African and African descended peoples’ quests for freedom in the circum-Atlantic world compel us to revision freedom as something other than a state of being, but as a condition continuously in the process of becoming?  

AAS 3559-002 America in the Age of Revolution (3)

Instructor: Marlene Daut

M/W 2:00 - 3:15, New Cabell Hall 338

This course is a literary-historical examination of comparative American writing in a revolutionary era that began with the U.S. American Revolution in 1776, continued with the storming of the Bastille in France in 1789, and culminated with a series of slave revolts and military strikes that erupted in Saint Domingue in 1791 and led to Haitian independence in 1804.  Students will examine the origins, meanings, and legacies of these political struggles for freedom and equality in writings by a diverse array of authors.

AAS 3559-003 Sound and Religion of James Baldwin (3)

Instructor: Ashon Crawley

Mon. 3:30-6:00, New Cabell 056

This course uses the texts of James Baldwin – fictional, theatrical, essay forms – to have students think more broadly about how Black literature is a sound and religious literature, how it is always concerned with both sound and religion as augmentations of sense experience, sound and religion as a disruptive force against western thought. We will explore how sense experience itself is produced through non-division when we listen closely to the texts. And what is heard in Baldwin's texts often most forcefully show up in scenes of religiosity. In this course, we will give special attention to how Baldwin utilizes sound and religion in his texts to produce arguments.

AAS 3559-004 ​American Colonialism and Post-Colonial Theory (3)

Instructor: Marlene Daut

Mon./Wed. 5:00-6:15, New Cabell Hall 332

In this course, students explore the content and historical contexts of postcolonial theory beginning with colonial America. Through the examination of different foundational texts and the authors who have defined colonial and postcolonial theory, students will engage with the major issues that preoccupy postcolonial thinkers such as identity and alterity, nationalism and cultural imperialism, hybridity and origins, as well as diaspora. The relationship between postcolonial theory, capitalism, Marxism and postmodernism is something that will also be examined, as we explore the complexity and contradictions within the field of postcolonial theory itself.

AAS 3559-005 African Worlds through Life Stories (3)

Instructor: Lisa Shutt

Mon./Wed. 5:00-6:15. Shannon House 107

This course examines an array of African cultural worlds from the perspective of a variety of different life story genres. We will be addressing biography, autobiography, autofiction, memoirs, diaries, biographical documentary film and various artistic representations. Some critics claim that such genres, concentrating on the “individual” in Western terms, are not appropriate for representing African experiences of personhood. While critically examining these genres as well as the authorship of texts, we will also be examining representations of worldviews, social and political structures and organization, conceptualizations of time and space, social change, gender, kinship, ritual, etc. through the lens of each life history and joined by supplemental historical and ethnographic readings. For each life narrative we examine, we will ask what authors are seeking to transmit. Reality? Truth? Or something else? We will also ask what reading audiences expect to receive from such narratives. We will discuss whether the narratives we address are stories expressing the uniqueness of particular individuals or whether they are representative lifeways of members of particular socio-political groups – or both – or neither!

AAS 4501-001 African American Women's History (3)

Instructor: Talitha LeFlouria

Tues. 3:30-6:00, New Cabell Hall 027

In her 1989 essay, “Beyond the Sound of Silence: Afro-American Women in History,” historian Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham proclaimed that “The sound of silence, which resonates throughout much of the scholarship on Afro-Americans and women, reflects the failure to recognize black women’s history as not only an identifiable field of inquiry in its own right, but as an integral part of Afro-American, American, and women’s history.” Since the publication of Higginbotham’s seminal critique of the marginalization and obscuration of black women in the historical literature, these silences have been broken and the black female has moved from the periphery to the center of historical and historiographical discourse. In this course, students will be introduced to the significant themes and events that have shaped black women’s historical experiences from slavery to the present. Some of the topics covered in this course include: gender and the middle passage; women and slavery; the medical lives of enslaved women; the plight of working-class and incarcerated black women in the post-Civil War South; gendered violence, terror, and resistance in the aftermath of emancipation; black women’s informal and formal activism and protest during the Civil Rights movement, and black women’s ongoing crusade for justice through the #SayHerName and #BlackGirlsMatter movement. 

AAS 4501-002 Black Power (3)

Instructor: Claudrena Harold

Tues. 3:30- 6:00, Nau Hall 242

Over the course of the semester, students will examine the dynamic ways people of African descent in the United States have struggled for cultural, economic, and political empowerment within the context of a white supremacist culture. Much of the class will focus on the 1960s and the 1970s; however, previous and subsequent periods will also be analyzed. Students should leave this class with not only a broader knowledge of “Black Power” as a cultural, political, and ideological movement, but also with a more nuanced understanding of the research methods and interpretive frameworks utilized by historians, as well as other social scientists, interested in Black Power in particular and the Black freedom struggle in general. Students will also have the opportunity to further develop their research skills and techniques through a series of assignments designed to assist them in identifying research topics and questions, interpreting primary and secondary texts, and substantiating arguments with “sound” evidence.

It bears mentioning that this course will devote significant attention to the local dimension of Black Power by engaging student activism on UVA’s campus between 1968 and 1984. Significant attention will be given to students’ fight for a Black Studies department at UVA, their massive demonstrations against racial apartheid in South Africa, and their general struggle to make the University a more egalitarian place.

SWAH 1010: Introductory Swahili I (3)

Instructor: Anne Rotich

Mon./Wed./Fri. 10:00-10:50, New Cabell Hall 038

Swahili is the most widely-spoken language in eastern Africa.  SWAH 1010 provides a foundation for listening, speaking and writing basic Swahili grammatical structures and vocabulary. By the end of this course you will be able to construct simple Swahili sentences, identify with various cultural aspects and customs of Swahili speakers, and have a basic level of oral proficiency. We will have fun learning the language as we engage in dialogues, group activities and perform some cultural skits. 

SWAH 1010: Introductory Swahili I (3)

Instructor: Anne Rotich

Mon./Wed./Fri. 11:00-11:50, New Cabell Hall 038

Swahili is the most widely-spoken language in eastern Africa.  SWAH 1010 provides a foundation for listening, speaking and writing basic Swahili grammatical structures and vocabulary. By the end of this course you will be able to construct simple Swahili sentences, identify with various cultural aspects and customs of Swahili speakers, and have a basic level of oral proficiency. We will have fun learning the language as we engage in dialogues, group activities and perform some cultural skits. 

SWAH 2010: Intermediate Swahili I (3)

Instructor: Anne Rotich

Mon./Wed./Fri. 12:00-12:50, New Cabell Hall 038

This second year Swahili course is intended to equip you with more language skills in speaking, reading, writing, listening and cultures. It’s an opportunity for you to enhance your language skills. At the end of this course you will have increased your Swahili vocabulary, speak Swahili with more ease and less errors, understand and interact with Swahili speakers. You will be able to write and analyze texts and essays in Swahili on different topics and appreciate more the cultures of the Swahili people. You will also be able to express yourself, your everyday activities, discuss politics or current events in Swahili. To achieve this we will utilize multi-media resources, the internet, literary texts, magazines, and news broadcast stations to enhance your learning.