The Carter G. Woodson Institute, U.Va.

The Carter G. Woodson Institute

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

Fall 2014

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African American and African Studies Program

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

Instructor: Jim La Fleur

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 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 Social Science Perspectives on African American and African Studies (3)

Instructor: Sabrina Pendergrass

Tues./Thurs. 11:00-12:15

This course surveys seminal theories, concepts, and texts across the social sciences that contribute to African American and African Studies. We draw on disciplines such as sociology, psychology, political science, anthropology, and epidemiology, and we consider their distinctive, but complementary perspectives on the racial contours of debates about education, health, incarceration, and other social issues.

AAS 3500 African Worlds through Life Stories (3)

Instructor: Lisa Shutt

Tues. 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 Gordon Parks-Documentary Tradition (3)

Instructor: John Mason

Tues/Thurs. 3:30-4:45

Gordon Parks and the American Documentary Tradition, is a special one-time-only course that explores work of one of the most important artists of the 20th century. For nearly half a century, Parks' photography, writing, and films made him one of the most important black voices in American culture. Although his 1971 hit movie "Shaft" made him a celebrity, his photojournalism, fiction, and an autobiography had already brought him considerable fame.

The course coincides with a major exhibition of Parks' photography that opens at the University's Fralin Museum of Art in September 2014. The course will take advantage of the exhibition itself and the various programs, films, and guest speakers that will accompany it.

AAS 3559 will look at all aspects of his career, with a special emphasis on his photojournalism. It will also view Parks in the context of the history of which he was such an important part -- the American tradition of documentary film, photography, and writing. We will examine the work of people as diverse as Dorothea Lange and Carrie Mae Weems, and Ida B. Wells and Malcolm X, Ken Burns and Spike Lee. Course materials include readings, photography, films, and several guest lectures by photographers and filmmakers. Students will write short papers on readings, films, and the exhibition. As members of small groups, they will participate in creating online and in-class presentations on aspects of Parks' career.

AAS 4570 Trauma and Narration in African Diaspora Literature (3)

Instructor: Njelle Hamilton

Tues. 6:30- 9:00

In this course, we will explore literary representations of some of the traumas that have affected African Diaspora peoples in the past century: slavery, colonization, racism, sexual abuse, war, immigration and dictatorship. In particular, we will examine some ways that major African, African American, and Afro-Caribbean writers have attempted to narrate trauma. Reading writers such as Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danticat, Austin Clarke, Zoë Wicomb, Nuruddin Farah, and Chimamanda Adichie, our central questions will include: How can trauma be narrated? By what narrative devices and strategies? What does the choice of narrative devices and strategies teach us about the nature of trauma and its effects on the mind and body? Is trauma an inherent experience in the African Diaspora? Requirements include a theory application paper, a narrative experiment, and a seminar paper.

AAS 4570 Africa in the US Media (3)

Instructor: Lisa Shutt

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

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 Anthropology

ANTH 2500 The Anthropolgy of the Caribbean (3)

Instructor: Kristin Lahatte

Mon./Wed./Fri. 11:00-11:50

It has been suggested that the Caribbean serves as a “master symbol” for understanding the processes of the modern world. This course will anthropologically examine this claim by exploring the history of the Caribbean from the time of European colonization to the present day with particular attention to subjects such as slavery and plantation economies, revolution and retribution, creolizaton, globalization, and migration and transnationalism.

Department of American Studies

AMST 2753 Arts and Cultures of the Slave South (3)

Instructors: Maurie McInnis and Louis

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

“Arts and Cultures of the Slave South” is an undergraduate, interdisciplinary course that covers the American South to the Civil War. While the course centers on the visual arts—architecture, material culture, decorative arts, painting, and sculpture—it is not designed as a regional history of art, but an exploration of the interrelations between history, material and visual cultures, foodways, music and literature in the formation of Southern identities. The course will cover subjects ranging from African American spirituals to creolization and ethnicities in Louisiana, from the plantation architectures of both big house and outbuildings to the narratives of former slaves. In the process, students will be introduced to the interpretive methods central to a wide range of disciplines, from archaeology and anthropology, to art and architectural history, to material culture, literature, and musicology. In addition to two weekly lectures by co-faculty Maurie McInnis and Louis Nelson, students will also attend weekly discussion sections and special events including guest lectures and a field trip.

Department of Drama

DRAM 3070  African American Theatre (3)

Instructor: Theresa Davis

Presents a comprehensive study of 'Black Theatre' as the African-American contribution to the theatre. Explores the historical, cultural, and socio-political underpinnings of this theatre as an artistic form in American and world culture. Students gain a broader understanding of the relationship and contributions of this theatre to theatre arts, business, education, lore, and humanity. A practical theatrical experience is a part of the course offering.  Prerequisite: Instructor permission

Department of English

ENLT 2547 Black Women Writers (3)

Instructor: Lisa Woolfolk

Tues./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?

ENLT 2552 Black Women Writers (3)

Instructor: Susan Fraiman

Mon./Wed. 3:30-4:45

An introduction to close reading and critical writing focused on recent works by women in a variety of genres and from a range of national contexts.  Possible works (final list still to be determined) include stories by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie; a graphic narrative of growing up by American cartoonist Alison Bechdel; a film set in India directed by Mira Nair; images of the U.S. by queer photographer Catherine Opie; Moroccan feminist Fatima Mernissi’s memoir of a “harem girlhood.”  Our discussion of these texts will address basic formal issues: modes of narration; the difference between “story” and “plot”; the use of framing and other structural devices; the constraints of genre; the handling of images, tone, and diction.  Likely thematic concerns include the effects of colonialism and migration on women; explorations by women of growing up, growing old, marriage, maternity, queer sexuality, work, and creativity; ties and tensions among women across boundaries of nation, generation, race, and class; the divergent meanings of feminism for women around the world.  We will work not only on becoming attentive readers but also on learning to conceive and organize effective critical essays.  This writing intensive course (three papers totaling 20 pages) satisfies the prerequisite for the English major as well as the second-writing requirement.   There is also a final exam.

ENAM 3500  Studies in American Literature: The Civil Rights Movement

Instructor: Maurice Wallace

Tues./Thurs 2:00-3:15

ENAM 3500 Studies in American Literature: Harlem Renaissance, Arts & Politics

Instructor: Marlon Ross

Tues./Thurs 1100-1215 

This course explores the 1920s Jazz Age from a multimedia perspective of the Harlem Renaissance in literature, journalism, painting, sculpture, dance, music, photography, film, and politics. We’ll consider the geopolitics not only of Harlem as a “Mecca of the New Negro” but also of Chicago, D.C., Richmond, and Lynchburg (yes, Lynchburg) as instances of places contributing to the idea of the New Negro Renaissance. We’ll examine some of the hot debates and combustible movements of the time, including: the Great Black Migration, art as uplift and propaganda, elite versus vernacular approaches, the Negro newspaper, Negro Wall Streets and pioneer towns, race rioting, urban sociology, the Garveyite movement, Negro bohemianism, the gendering of the Renaissance idea, queer subcultures, radical activism, and interraciality. We’ll sample a wide range of works: essays by Du Bois, Alain Locke, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, and Marcus Garvey; poetry by Georgia Douglas Johnson, James Weldon Johnson, Anne Spencer, Langston Hughes, and Claude McKay; novels by Nella Larsen and Wallace Thurman; drama by Angelina Weld Grimke and Zora Neale Hurston; art by Aaron Douglas and Augusta Savage; dancers and choreographers Katherine Dunham, the Nicholas brothers, and Josephine Baker; musicians Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Billie Holliday, Harry Burleigh, and Roland Hayes; photographers Addison Scurlock and James Van Der Zee; and the filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. We’ll conclude with some contemporary revisualizations of the Harlem Renaissance in fiction and film. Assignments include several short papers, a reading journal, and a final “revisioning” project where you’ll be required to offer your own re-imagining of the New Negro era.

ENAM 5840 Contemporary African American Literature:  TIme and African American Literature (3)

Instructor: Lisa Woolfolk

Tues./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 run out of it.  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 and cultivate pedagogic techniques using the discussion-leading portion.

ENCR 4500 Advanced Studies in Literary Criticism: Race in American Places(3)

Instructor: Ian Grandison

Thurs. 6:30-9:00

This interdisciplinary seminar focuses on built environments in America within the context of contemporary culture wars—especially as circumscribing issues of race.  We interrogate ideologies that distinguish people, placing them into social hierarchies, based on the places with which they are associated.  We consider, for example, how the seemingly innocent story of the Three Little Pigs shapes dominant assumptions about the moral attributes of people (masquerading as pigs) based on the materials and architectural styles of the houses in which they live.  In so doing we denaturalize popular assumptions that, say, straw huts or wood shacks represent the moral failing or lack of fitness of those we thus label as “primitive.”  Can such places as Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall (which we think of as belonging to “the public”) be planned and designed to welcome use by some members of the public and discourage use by others?  What does the concurrency of homelessness and homeowners’ associations in American society suggest about assumptions regarding a relationship between our right to privacy and our wealth?  We explore such issues through targeted discussion of readings; mandatory visits to places around Charlottesville; informal workshops (mainly to develop the ability to interpret maps, plans, and other graphic representations of places); and in-class presentations.  Requirements include three informal small group exercises, an individual site-visit comment paper, a mid-term and final exam, and a group research project.  The last requirement is presented in an informal symposium that represents the culmination of the semester.

Department of French

FREN 3585 North African Literature and Culture (3)

FREN 4743 Africa in Cinema (3)

Instructor: Kandioure Dramé

Tues./Thurs. 12:30-1:45

Department of History

HIAF 2001 Early African History (3)

Instructor:  James La Fleur

Is an introductory course that explores why? where? when? how? people living on the African continent – from Cairo to Cape Town, and Dakar to Dar es Salaam – changed what they did from the so-called Stone Age to the years of intensive slaving and the export of humans as captives (ending roughly 200 years ago).

Over the course’s sixteen weeks, we will develop interpretive themes to help us make sense of experiences so diverse that they resist reduction into a single, unifying, continent-wide narrative. The course perspective emphasizes that Africans have always been engaged with their regional and continental neighbors in the making of world history, and that African history has significance and intellectual importance of its own, rather than deriving relevance only in its relationship to dynamism in Europe or the Americas. 

The course is structured with materials and lessons that guide the students through three successive learning stages, each with its own map quiz, exam, and discussion participation grade.  This architecture supports ambition and risk-taking in early stages of the course, positive response to constructive criticism, and intellectual independence and polished performance by the end of the term.

HIAF 2001 presumes no prior knowledge or personal experience with Africa and it requires no previous college-level studies in History. Course materials include a textbook, specialized scholarly readings, and other media rich with sights and sounds.

The course belongs to the African-American & African Studies curriculum, is required for the minor in African Studies, meets the “non-western/non-modern” requirement for the major in History, counts as an adjunct course for Studies in Women and Gender, and qualifies for the College of Arts & Sciences area requirements in “non-western perspectives” and “historical studies.”

HIAF 3021 History of Southern Africa (3)

Instructor: John Mason

Is a lecture and discussion course on the history of southern Africa during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with an emphasis on the country of South Africa.

The course is especially concerned with the ways in which people expressed their political beliefs through popular culture.  It begins with a look at the precolonial African societies of the region, before moving on to a study of conquest, colonialism, the rise and fall of apartheid, and the recent rebirth of African independence.

By the end of the nineteenth century, all of the African peoples of southern Africa had been conquered by European powers and incorporated into Dutch, British, Portuguese, and German colonial empires.  Conquest had not come easily.  Every society in the region resisted European domination fiercely, sometimes for many decades before being finally defeated.  Colonialism and African responses to it dramatically reshaped societies in southern African, transforming political and economic systems, gender and class relations, even religious beliefs.

Resistance to colonialism assumed new forms in the twentieth century, as Africans began to bridge ethnic divisions to create multi-ethnic trade unions, churches, political parties, and liberation movements.  Particularly in South Africa, African nationalism was influenced by nonracialism, uniting blacks and progressive whites in the ultimately successful struggle against apartheid.

Course materials include biographies, memoirs, fiction, music, and film, as well as academic studies.  Students will take periodic quizzes on the readings and write two blue-book exams, a mid-term and a final.

HIME 2001 History of the MIddle East and North Africa, ca. 570- ca. 1500 (3)

Instructor: Joshua White

The success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and the resurgence of piracy off the Horn of Africa have catapulted maritime raiding back into the public consciousness. Books, movies, and news articles have proliferated in recent years that cater to this new interest, and some commentators have sought context for the Somali phenomenon in the early modern Mediterranean. This course examines Mediterranean piracy in its own right, from the proxy battles for supremacy in North Africa in the sixteenth century to the U.S. naval interventions there in the nineteenth. We will pay special attention to the political, social, religious, legal, and economic ramifications of both Christian and Muslim sea raiding. Piracy in the early modern Mediterranean was a universal threat that affected East and West, North and South, Muslims, Christians, and Jews.  It left its mark on the political geography of the coasts, impacted the development of international law and the conduct of diplomacy, and provided the pretext for both Ottoman and European imperial expansion. It mobilized the rhetoric of intractable religious conflict, popularized new genres of literary expression, created new networks of trade and destroyed others, and led thousands into lives of captivity. Its legacy is still with us today.

Beyond familiarizing you with the history of piracy in the Mediterranean, our goal in this course is to develop your ability to read critically, analyze sources, and deploy evidence to back up your arguments. Readings will be a mix of scholarly works and primary sources--including captivity narratives, diplomatic reports, court cases, fiction, and selections from the autobiography of an Ottoman corsair. There are no exams. Evaluation will be based on class participation and a series of short and medium-length papers that you will have the opportunity to revise. No previous knowledge of Mediterranean history or pirates is required.

HIST 3559 New Course in General History; Gordon Parks and the Modern Documentary Tradition (3)

Instructor: John Mason

Gordon Parks and the American Documentary Tradition, explores work of one of the most important artists of the 20th century.  For nearly half a century, Parks' photography, writing, and films made him one of the most important black voices in American culture.  Although his 1971 hit movie "Shaft" made him a celebrity, his photojournalism, fiction, and an autobiography had already brought him considerable fame.

The course looks at all aspects of his career, with a special emphasis on his photojournalism.  It coincides with an major exhibition of Parks' photography that opens at the Fralin University of Virginia Art Museum in September 2014.  The course will take advantage of the exhibition itself and the various programs and speakers that will accompany it.

HIST 3559 will also view Parks in the context of the history of which he was such an important part -- the American tradition of documentary film, photography, and writing.  We will examine the work of people as diverse as Dorothea Lange and Carrie Mae Weems, and Ida B. Wells and Malcolm X, Ken Burns and Spike Lee.

Students will write short papers on readings, films, and the exhibition.

 As members of small groups, they will participate in creating online and in-class presentations on aspects of Parks' career.

HIUS 3071 The Coming of the Civil War (3)

Instructor: Elizabeth Varon

Through a close examination of the interrelationships among economic change, cultural and political developments, and the escalating sectional conflict between 1815 and 1861 this lecture course seeks to explain what caused the outbreak of the American Civil War in April 1861. Students should note that this period also encompasses the Jacksonian era of American history, and most of the lectures in the first half of the course will be devoted to examining it, with a focus on party politics and debates over slavery. Grades will be based on class participation and on three written assignments: a midterm exam; an 8-10 page term paper; and a comprehensive, take-home final examination.

HIUS 3671 History of the Civil Rights Movement (3)

Instructor: Lynn French

This course focuses on the long arc of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, arguably the greatest social movement of the 20th Century.  It will examine the social change accomplished from the 1870’s through the 1970’s – culminating in what might be considered a second reconstruction.  Most of the discussion will center on the work and lives of African Americans, but also will consider the impact of the Movement upon race, gender and ethnicity not only in America but around the globe as well.

In addition to assigned reading, student will be expected to submit four very brief essays on topics that highlight an issue, organization or leader.  Lively and intense class participation is encouraged. Diplomacy and respect for others’ views is required.

Department of Politics

PLAP 3820 Civil Liberties and Civil Rights (3)

PLCP 2120 The Politics of Developing Areas (3) 

PLCP 3410 Politics of the Middle East and North Africa (3)

PLCP 4500 Special Topics in Comparative Politics (Imperialism and Globalization) (3)

PLPT 4500 Special Topics in Political Theory (Freedom, Empire and Slavery) (3)

Department of Religious Studies

RELA 2750  African Religions(3)

Instructor: Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton

An introductory survey of African religions. The course concentrates on African indigenous religions, but Islam and Christianity are also discussed. Topics include African mythologies and cosmologies, as well as rituals, artistic traditions and spiritualities. We consider the colonial impact on African religious cultures and the dynamics of ongoing religious change in the sub-Sahara.

RELA 3559 New Course in African Religions (Religion in African Literature and Film) (3)

Instructor: Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton

An exploration of the ways in which religious concepts, practices and issues are addressed in African literature and film.  Literary genres include novels, short stories and poetry; Cinematographic genres include commercial "Nollywood" movies, as well as "Christian video films"   We will examine how various directors and authors interweave aspects of Muslim, Christian and/or traditional religious cultures into the stories they tell.

RELG 3200 Martin, Malcolm, and America (3)

Instructor: Mark Hadley

An analysis 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.

RELG 3360 Conquest and Religions in the Americas, 1400s-1830s (3)

Instructor: Jalane Schmidt

A history course which examines Latin American and Caribbean religions from the 1400s through the 1830s. We will proceed topically (in rough chronological order), studying religious encounters during the pre-Columbian era, the Spanish conquest and colonial eras, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Latin American independence (1820s), and slave emancipation in the anglophone Caribbean (1830s). The class will focus primarily upon the signature religious episodes, devotions, personalities and institutions of indigenous, African, Afro-creole, and mestizo communities, since these "gente de color" constituted the majority population in the New World during this historical epoch. We will consider issues of historiography?specifically, the problem of interpreting (sometimes hostile) extant archival sources and the use of such primary material in the writing of secondary literature. Students will develop their abilities to evaluate primary sources (in translation), and to identify the interpretive choices which scholars make in the crafting of historical narratives.

RELG 3559 The Civil Rights Movement (3)

Instructor: Charles Marsh Jr.

The seminar considers the American civil rights movement as theological drama.  The goal is to analyze and understand the movement, its participants and opponents, in religious and theological perspective.  While interdisciplinary in scope, the seminar will probe the details of religious convictions in their dynamic particularity and ask how images of God shape conceptions of race, community and nation and modes of practical engagements.  Readings include four seminal studies of the period, writings by movement and anti-movement activists, and documents archived at, in the digital history titled, "The Civil Rights Movement as Theological Drama".  Course requirements include active participation in class discussions, one 20-30 presentation, weekly reading summaries (250-300 words), one research paper (10-12 pages, or 3000-3400 words), and a take-home final.

Department of Sociology

SOC 2442 Systens if Inequality(3)


This course will examine various types of inequality (race, class, gender) in the US and abroad.  We will discuss sociological theories covering various dimensions of inequality, considering key research findings and their implications.  We will examine to what extent ascriptive characteristics impact a person's life chances, how social structures are produced and reproduced, and how individuals are able or unable to negotiate these structures.

Soc 3410 Race and Ethnic Relations (3)

Year Offered: 
Undergraduate Courses