The Carter G. Woodson Institute, U.Va.

The Carter G. Woodson Institute

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

Fall 2015

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African American and African Studies Program

AAS1010 Introduction to African American and African Studies I (4)

Instructor: TBA

Tues/Thurs 12:30-1:45

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 and three written exams.​

 

​AAS 2559-001 Routes, Writing, Reggae (3)

Instructor: Njelle Hamilton

Tues 5:00-7:30

In this interdisciplinary course, we will explore the history of reggae music and its influence on the development of autochthonous Jamaican literature. In addition to readings on Jamaican history, Rastafarianism, and Haile Selassie I and Ethiopianism (via Maaza Mengiste's novel, Beneath the Lion's Gaze), we will listen to and analyze reggae and dancehall songs to discern the themes, poetic devices, musical structures, and social and historical contexts of the music form, with a view to mapping what themes, devices, and structures reggae lends to local literature and literary culture. Our course readings will range from dub poetry by Jean Binta Breeze and Mutabaruka, reggae poetry by Kamau Brathwaite and Kwame Dawes, reggae short fiction from Geoffrey Philp and Colin Channer, and reggae  novels from Michael Thelwell (The Harder They Come) and Marlon James (A Brief History of Seven Killings).  Assignments include: listening and reading journals, oral presentations,  musical and literary reviews, and an analytical final paper.

AAS 2559-002 The Films of Spike Lee (3)

Instructor: Maurice Wallace

Tues./Thurs. 2:00-3:15

One of the most significant figures in modern American cinema, Spike Lee is one of today’s most prolific American filmmakers and arguably the most recognizable African American filmmaker alive.  With 35+ films to his credit, Lee’s filmography indexes the broad and tangled history of public debate over race, class, gender, ethnicity and commercial cinema since the 1980s. This course will consider the evolution of the themes, genres, techniques, and artistic philosophy reflected in Lee’s work as director, producer and cultural critic over his considerable career. We will also be concerned to highlight the tensions that arise from Lee’s seemingly contradictory reputation as an ‘independent’ filmmaker and his prominence as a commercially successful ‘mainstream’ producer and director.  We will view several major and lesser-known films, from blockbusters like Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X to the obscure Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop. We will also consider Lee’s documentary projects 4 Little Girls and When the Levees Broke among other important Lee works (including television ads). The goal of the course is to critically situate ‘the Spike Lee phenomenon’ in the history of black American cinema and in the wider context of global filmmaking in the 20th and 21st century.​

 

AAS 2559-003 Afro-Creole Religions (3)

Instructor: Jalane Schmidt

Tue./Thurs. 9:30-10:45

This survey course investigates African-inspired religious practices in Latin America and the Caribbean such as Haitian Vodou, Cuban Regla de Ocha (aka “Santería”), and Brazilian Candomblé. We will read ethnographic accounts and consider how devotees deploy the history of slavery and re-interpret African influences in their practices, and evaluate practitioners' and anthropologists' debates about terms such as “Africa,” “tradition,” “modernity,” “creole,” and “syncretism.” A discussion section is required.​

AAS 3200 Martin, Malcolm and America (3)

Combined with RELG 3200

Instructor: Mark Hadley

Tues./Thurs. 9:30-10:45

An intensive examination of African-American social criticism centered upon, but not limited to, the life and thought of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. We will come to grips with the American legacy of racial hatred and oppression systematized in the institutions of antebellum chattel slavery and post-bellum racial segregation and analyze the array of critical responses to, and social struggles against, this legacy. We will pay particular attention to the religious dimensions of these various types of social criticism.​

AAS 3500 African Worlds in Biography (3)

Instructor: Lisa Shutt

Wed. 3:30-6:00

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 3559 From Redlines to Subprime: Race and Real Estate in the United States (3)

Instructor: Andrew Kahrl

Mon./Wed. 2:00-3:15

This course examines the dynamic relationship between real estate, racial segregation, wealth, and poverty in American cities and suburbs, with an emphasis on the period from the New Deal to the present.  We will look at how the quest for homeownership in a capitalist society shaped ideas of race and belonging, influenced Americans’ political ideologies and material interests, and impacted movements for civil rights and economic justice.  We will study the history of Federal housing policies and programs, the evolution of real estate industry practices in the age of civil rights and “white flight,” the relationship between residential location and quality of public education, and contemporary trends in housing and real estate markets in metropolitan America.  In addition to secondary readings in history, sociology, economics, and urban studies, students will learn to interpret a variety of primary sources, including land deeds and covenants, tax records, maps, financial statements, contracts, and industry trade publications.  Class meetings will alternate between lectures, tutorials, and discussions of weekly reading assignments.  Students will complete 3 topical essays and a final research project.

AAS 3652 African American History since 1865 - Present (3)

Instructor: Andrew Kahrl

Mon./Wed./Fri. 10:00-10:50

This course examines the black experience in America from emancipation to the present.  We will study African Americans’ long struggle for freedom and equality, and learn about their contributions to and influence on America’s social, political, and economic development.  We will also study the history of race and racism, explore how its meaning and practice has changed over time, and how it shaped—and continues to shape—the lives of all persons in America.  Central to this course is the idea that African American history is American history, and that the American experience cannot be understood apart from the struggles and triumphs of African Americans.  Course topics include: emancipation and Reconstruction; the age of Jim Crow; the Great Migration and the New Negro; the civil rights and Black Power movements; mass incarceration; and struggles for justice and equality in the present.  In addition to readings from assigned books, students will analyze and interpret a variety of primary sources, including film, music, and visual art.  Class meetings will alternate between lectures and discussions.  Assignments will include a midterm, a final exam, two topical essays, and short responses to weekly readings.

 

AAS 4570-001 Time and African American Lit (3)

Instructor: Lisa Woolfork

Tue./Thur. 9:30-10:45

This seminar uses the concept of time as a foundation for exploring selected works of contemporary African American Literature. Time is a useful representational concept in so far as it allows for a wide-ranging assessment of literary and cultural tropes. Time is a noun and a verb; it is the basis for history. It can be on our side or we can lack what seems sufficient.  It can heal all wounds or it can be a wound itself. These are the types of questions that will be used as a beginning for larger and evolving conversations about the works listed below. The course is also committed to helping students develop their own research agenda through formation of a culminating seminar paper.  Writers studied include Percival Everett, Jesmyn Ward, Edward P Jones, and Toni Morrison.

 

AAS 4570-002 Africa in the US Media (3)

Instructor: Lisa Shutt

Mon. 3:30-6:00

This course will address the role the media has played in creating images and understandings of “Africa” and “Blackness” in this country. We will focus primarily on the context of the present-day United States. However, we will also address pre-colonial and colonial periods and touch on the role of popular media in particular contemporary African contexts. This class will explore how different media, including feature films, popular television, documentaries, popular fiction, radio, television, and print news media create “Africa” 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. Working toward their own semester projects, students will collect examples each week from various sources (print, television, film, etc.) for discussion. We will concentrate on the particular ways various media produce, display, and disseminate information. Finally, we will ask what responsibilities those who create and circulate information about such a mis- and under- represented area of the world have – and whether or not the viewing public shares in any sort of responsibility.​

DEPARTMENT OF ​ENGLISH ​

ENLT 2547 Black Writers in America (3)

Instructor: Lisa Woolfork

Tue./Thurs. 8:00-9:15

This seminar uses Black women’s writings from mid-century to the present to introduce new English majors to important concepts in literary analysis. To better understand genre, themes, and assorted literary conventions, we will focus closely on a range of literary styles.  We will also consider patterns of representation established in the 1950s and watch how they develop, disintegrate, or evolve into the present day.  Do certain issues or themes remain important in Black women’s writing of the last fifty years?  How has the literature adapted in response to specific cultural or historical moments?

ENAM 3500-005 Advanced Studies in American Literature: Black Protest Narrative(3)

Instructor: Marlon Ross

Thurs. 11:00-12:15

This course studies modern racial protest expressed through African American narrative art (fiction, autobiography, film) from the 1930s to 1980s, focusing on Civil Rights, Black Power, Black Panthers, womanism, and black gay/lesbian liberation movements. We explore the media, forms, and theories of modern protest movements, how they shaped and have been shaped by literature and film. What does it mean to lodge a protest in artistic form? What is the relation between political protest and aesthetic form? Some themes include lynching, segregation, sharecropping, anti-Semitism, black communism, migration, urbanization, religion (including Nation of Islam), crime and policing, normative and queer sexualities, war and military service, cross-racial coalitions, and the role of the individual in social change. Some major works include Richard Wright’s Native Son, Angelo Herndon’s Let Me Live, Ann Petry’s The Street, James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain, Gwendolyn Brooks’ Maud Martha, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Stride toward Freedom, Alice Walker’s Meridian, Bobby Seale’s Seize the Time, and Audre Lorde’s Zami, as well as pertinent readings in history, literary criticism, journalism, and sociology. We’ll study the cross-over film No Way Out, the black exploitation film Superfly, and black independent films Killer of Sheep and Tongues Untied. Requirements include heavy reading schedule, midterm, final exam, and reading journal.

 

ENAM 3500-006 Advanced Studies in American Literature: The Civil Rights Movement(3)

Instructor: Deborah McDowell

Tues./Thurs. 3:30-4:45
 

This multi-media course will survey selected fiction, non-fiction, photography and film from the U. S. Civil Rights Movement. The arc of the course spans the Brown v. Topeka decision (1954) to the emergence of SNCC and the Black Power Movement. Topics for discussion will include the interplay between history and memory, as well as gender, sexuality, and class, in representations of the period; ideologies of black liberation and the tactics of mass protest; the relationship between the movement and mass media industries; debates about race and rights; the politics of race and the fragility of citizenship; the economics of racial oppression and resistance.

ENAM 3510 Studies in African American Literature and Culture (3)

Instructor: Maurice Wallace

Mon./Wed,/Fri. 12:00-12:50

The voice and vision of James Baldwin, one of the twentieth century's most impassioned and prolific voices on race, sex, democracy and art, are the subjects of this course. A brilliant essayist, a controversial novelist, playwright and sometime poet, Baldwin is not only among the missing subjects of American civil rights history, he anticipated many of the contemporary concerns of American and African American literature and cultural studies, including, especially, American identity politics. In this course we will look to Baldwin's fiction, nonfiction and dramatic worlds for an early protocol of cultural critique foregrounding themes of race, class, gender, citizenship, black expatriation, the moral lives of children and urgency of art.

ENAM 3880 Literature of the South (3)

Instructor: Jennifer Greeson

Mon./Wed 10:00-10:50

Across the 20th century and into the 21st, Americans negotiating the transformations of modernity and postmodernity have turned to literary representations of the South to get their bearings.  In imagining the South we seek a rooted, enduring culture in a sea of commercialism and mobility; we confront the persistence of racial and economic inequality at odds with the ideals of the United States; we insist upon the importance of locality in our increasingly global consciousnesses.  We also consume “the South” as a commodity, invoke it as an excuse or alibi for the nation’s ills, and enjoy its ostensible perversity as a guilty pleasure.  In this course we will read some of the most challenging, startling, and beautiful American prose fiction of the past 100 years, while attending as well to the broader cultural field of film, image, and music of which it is a part.  We will think in particular about questions of nationalism and literature (the role of “folk” culture; the location of poverty; place and race); questions of representation and representativeness (“identity” of writers; authenticity; production and presentation of Southern stuff); and questions of performance (of class, gender, race, and region).  Major authors will include Chesnutt, Faulkner, Caldwell, Porter, Wright, Welty, Hurston, Percy, and O'Connor.

ENAM 3510 Studies in African-American Literature and Culture (3)

Instructor: Maurice Wallace

Mon./Wed./Fri.12:00-12:50

The voice and vision of James Baldwin, one of the twentieth century's most impassioned and prolific voices on race, sex, democracy and art, are the subjects of this course. A brilliant essayist, a controversial novelist, playwright and sometime poet, Baldwin is not only among the missing subjects of American civil rights history, he anticipated many of the contemporary concerns of American and African American literature and cultural studies, including, especially, American identity politics. In this course we will look to Baldwin's fiction, nonfiction and dramatic worlds for an early protocol of cultural critique foregrounding themes of race, class, gender, citizenship, black expatriation, the moral lives of children and urgency of art.

ENCR 4500 Advanced Studies in Literary Criticism: Race, Space, and Culture (3)

Instructors: Ian Grandison and Marlon Ross​

Tues. 6:30-9:00

This interdisciplinary seminar examines the spatial implications at work in the theories, practices, and experiences of race, as well as the cultural implications at stake in our apprehensions and conceptions of space. Themes include: 1) the human/nature threshold; 2) public domains/private lives; 3) urban renewal, historic preservation, and the new urbanism; 4) defensible design and the spatial politics of fear; and 5) the cultural ideologies of sustainability. The seminar foregrounds the multidimensionality of space as a physical, perceptual, social, ideological, and discursive phenomenon. This means melding concepts and practices used in the design professions with theories affiliated with race, postcolonial, literary, and cultural studies. We’ll investigate a variety of spaces, actual and discursive, through selected theoretical readings from diverse disciplines (e.g., William Cronon, Patricia Williams, Philip Deloria, Leslie Kanes Weisman, Gloria Anzaldua, Oscar Newman); through case studies (e.g., Indian reservations, burial grounds, suburban homes, gay bars, national monuments); and through local site visits. Requirements include a midterm and final exam, one site visit response paper, and a major team research project and presentation.

ENAM 5840 Contemporary African-American Literature (3)

Instructor: Lisa Woolfolk

Thurs. 9:30-10:45

This seminar uses the concept of time as a foundation for exploring selected works of contemporary African American Literature. Time is a useful representational concept in so far as it allows for a wide-ranging assessment of literary and cultural tropes. Time is a noun and a verb; it is the basis for history. It can be on our side or we can lack what seems sufficient.  It can heal all wounds or it can be a wound itself. These are the types of questions that will be used as a beginning for larger and evolving conversations about the works listed below. The course is also committed to helping students develop their own research agenda through formation of a culminating seminar paper.  Writers studied include Percival Everett, Jesmyn Ward, Edward P Jones, and Toni Morrison.

Semester: 
Year Offered: 
2015
Graduate/Undergraduate: 
Undergraduate Courses