The Carter G. Woodson Institute, U.Va.

The Carter G. Woodson Institute

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

Spring 2015

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African American and African Studies Program

AAS 1020 - Introduction to African American and African Studies II (4)

Instructor: Claudrena Harold

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


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

Instructor: Lisa Shutt

Tues. 3:30-6:00, New Cabell Hall 207

This course, taught as a lower-level seminar, 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 3500-1 Currents on African Literature(3)

Instructor: Njelle Hamilton

Mon./Wed. 3:30-4:45, Maury Hall 113

What is the state of literatures from the African continent today? In this course, we will read a sampling of some of the exciting new works of fiction, poetry, and drama, from the continent’s young and established authors. This semester our theme will be “Re-Dreaming the Modern African Nation State,” and authors will include: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Teju Cole (Nigeria); Maaza Mengiste and Dinaw Mengistu (Ethiopia); Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone); Nuruddin Farah (Somalia); and J.M. Coetzee (South Africa). We will examine the literary innovations that writers use to narrate nations in continued turmoil, as we discuss issues such as dictatorship, the lingering effects of colonization, the postcolonial nation state, the traumas of war and geo-politics, religion, gender and sexuality, and migration, among others. Requirements include: short literary reviews, African news forum posts, a historical presentation (in pairs), and a final essay.

AAS 3500- 2 Runaways and Rebels, Afro-Atlantic (3)

Instructor: James La Fleur

Tues./Thurs. 9:30-10:45, New Cabell Hall 132

AAS 3500- 3 Slavery and Literary Imagination (3)

Instructor: Maurice Wallace

Tues./Thurs. 2:00 -3:15, Cocke Hall115

AAS 3500- 4 African American Health Professionals (3)

Instructor: Pamela Reynolds

Wed. 1:00-3:30, New Cabell Hall 115

This course addresses important issues of race and health disparities, as well as offering students an introduction to the understudied history of black medical professionals. Over the past three centuries, African American physicians, dentists, nurses and public health professionals have made major contributions to eliminating health disparities, offering, in many instances, the only source of medical and dental care available. Many of our majors consider a career in medicine--either as physicians, nurses or public health workers--and this course will surely be relevant for them. Students will also have the valuable experience of examing an array of primary documents pertaining to African American health care professionals in the 19th and early 20th centuries in the South.

AAS 3749 Food and Meaning in Africa and the Diaspora (3)

Instructor: Lisa Shutt

Mon./Wed. 1:00-3:30, Brooks Hall 103

This course investigates the traditions and symbolics of food and eating in Africa and throughout the African Diaspora -- wherever people of African descent have migrated or have been forced to move. This course will help students to investigate the way the foods people eat or don't eat hold meaning for people within a variety of cultural contexts. Topics will include symbol, taboo, sexuality, bodiesm ritual, kinships and beauty among others.

AAS 4080 -Thesis (4)

Instructor: Claudrena Harold


Advance Research Seminar in History & African American and African Studies

AAS 4501- Politics, Prisons and Punishment (4)

Instructor: Claudrena Harold

Thurs. 3:30-6:00, New Cabell Hall 066

Advanced Research Seminar in African American and African Studies

AAS  4570 -1 The Black Studies Movement (3)

Instructor: Latasha Levy

Wed. 3:30-6:00, New Cabell Hall 168

AAS 4570-2 Race, Culture and Inequality (3)

Instructor: Sabrina Pendergrass

Tues./Thurs. 11:00-12:15, Gibson Hall 341

This course will examine how culture matters for understanding race and social inequality. The course will survey social science research about cultural forms such as everyday discourse, styles of dress, music, literature, visual arts, and media as they relate to race and inequality. As we examine these studies, we will learn about key thinkers in social science approaches to culture, and we will analyze core concepts such as cultural capital, frames,symbolic boundaries, scripts, racial grammar, and more

AAS 4993 Independent Study

Department of Anthropology

ANTH 3590-1 Care in Africa (3)

Instructor: China Scherz

Tues./Thurs. 2:00-3:15, New Cabell Hall 058

In this course we will draw on a series of classic and contemporary works in history and anthropology to come to a better understanding of current debates concerning questions of care in contemporary Africa. Moving out from a set of conversations on slavery and patronage that emerged in the 1970s this course will examine the ways in which care and power cut across discussions three sets of themes: (1) corruption and witchcraft, (2) kinship, marriage, and sexuality, and (3) medicine and health.

Department of History

HIAF 1501 Africa and Virginia (3)

Instructor: James La FLeur

Tues. 3:30-6:00, Nau Hall 341

This seminar explores relationships between Africa and Virginia in the very long run, from earliest arrivals of Angolans near Jamestown in 1619, through Jefferson’s view of the continent and its people, to mass emigration to Liberia after 1820, through dialogues and commerce during colonial overrule in Africa and after independence, and finally to the resurgence in trans-Atlantic families and experiences in the 21st century.

No prior experience studying Africa is expected nor is previous college-level study of History required.

As a first-year and new-student seminar, the course uses a broad topic to provide opportunities to learn and improve skills – in research, analysis, and written and oral communication – broadly applicable towards success at the University and beyond.  As a course in History, it introduces learners to how people (and not just scholars) interested in the past think, and how academic historians do their work with never-straightforward sources (or “evidence”).  To that end, seminar participants will learn through doing, and this will surely include some meetings at the University’s “Special Collections Library,” where we will handle and engage primary sources (e.g., old books and private letters).  Depending on student interest and practicalities, it may also include some site visits to places of significance on Grounds and nearby, as well as interaction (or “fieldwork”) with fellow UVa students whose life experiences transcend any notion of separation between “Africa” and “Virginia.”

Modern African History (3)

Instructor: John Mason

Tues./Thurs. 9:30-10:45, Claude Moore Nursing Education G120

Modern African History, explores the history of Africa from the decline of the Atlantic slave trade, in the early nineteenth century, to the present.  Our goal is to examine the historical roots of the continent's present condition.  We will look at the slave trade and its consequences, the growth of African states, the spread of Islam, the European conquest of most of the African continent, African responses to colonial rule, and the reestablishment of African independence.

We will concentrate on three regions: West Africa, especially Nigeria; East Africa, especially Kenya and Ethiopia; and southern Africa, with an emphasis on South Africa.  We will pay particular attention to the ways in which colonialism affected ordinary Africans and to the various strategies that Africans employed to resist, subvert, and accommodate European domination.

HIAF 2002 is an introductory course and assumes no prior knowledge of African history.  There will be two blue book exams -- a mid-term and a final -- and periodic quizzes on the readings.

HIAF 4501 Environment, Health, and Development in Africa (3)

Instructor: James La Fleur

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

This is a discussion- and writing-intensive seminar that explores the changing relationships between people in Africa, their environments (ecological, epidemiological, political, economic, cultural, and more), and their global neighbors from early times to present. Students will discuss issues such as the Columbian exchange, imperialism, wildlife conservation, HIV/AIDS, petroleum oil in Africa, KONY 2012, growing Chinese roles in the continent's future, and the rapidly maturing Ebola crisis.  Emphasis will also be placed on critical appraisal of the role of historic and emerging media in understanding (and sometimes misunderstanding) these problems and in engaging Africans’ own aspirations.  Experience studying Africa and/or any of the course themes is welcomed but not strictly required.  The seminar’s focus is on Africa, but the issues are global and comparative, and therefore course learning is applicable to other places.

Students should have the ability and the motivation to work independently.  They will find that the majority of their efforts are spent outside of the classroom as they prepare for meetings (to read, reflect, and formulate ideas to contribute) and as they make progress on research papers.  Students will indentify research interests and possible resources in the early weeks of the course, and then develop their writing through a series of successive stages, including: topic declaration, working bibliography, two-page précis, rough draft, and ultimately a final draft of approximately 25 pages.  This progressive architecture is supported through continual feedback from the instructor and from peers designated as “writing partners.”  Class meetings are then occasions to share, collaborate, negotiate, develop oral communication skills, and generally enjoy a collegial and intellectually stimulating atmosphere.

This course can be used to fulfill the College’s “second writing requirement,” as well as requirements in “historical perspectives” and “non-Western perspectives.”


Department of Politics

Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa

Instructor: Robert Fatton

Thurs. 3:30-6:00, Gibson Hall 241

Studies the government and politics of sub-Saharan Africa. Includes the colonial experience and the rise of African nationalism; the transition to independence; the rise and fall of African one-party states; the role of the military in African politics; the politics of ethnicity, nation- and state-building; patromonialism and patron-client relations; development problems faced by African regimes, including relations with external actors; and the political future of Southern Africa. Prerequisite: Some background in comparative politics and/or history of Africa; not open to students who have taken PLCP 381.

Department of Religious Studies

RELA 2850 Afro Creole Relg in Americas (3)

Instructor: Jalane Schmidt

Tues./Thurs. 9:30-10:45, New Cabell Hall 058

This survey lecture course investigates African-inspired religious practices in Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly in those religions--such as Haitian Vodou, Cuban Regla de Ocha (aka "Santería"), and Brazilian Candomblé. By reading ethnographies, we will compare features common to many of these religions-such as polytheism, initiatory secrecy, divination, possession trance, animal sacrifice-as well as differences-such as contrasting evaluations of the devotional use of material objects, relations with the dead, and the commoditization of ritual expertise.  We will 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.

RELA 3000 Women and Religion in Africa (3)

Instructor: Cynthia Hoehler- Fatton

Tues./Thurs. 12:30-1:45, Gibson Hall 341

This course examines women’s religious activities, traditions and spirituality in a number of different African contexts.  Drawing on ethnographic, historical, literary, and religious studies scholarship, we will explore a variety of themes and debates that have emerged in the study of gender and religion in Africa.  Topics will include gendered images of sacred power; the construction of gender through ritual; sexuality and fertility; and women’s agency in indigenous religious movements, Muslim communities and Christian congregations in Africa.

RELA 3890 Christianity in Africa (3)

Instructor: Cynthia Hoehler- Fatton

Mon./Wed. 2:00-3:15, New Cabell Hall 332

This course examines the history of Christianity in Africa from its roots in Egypt and the Maghreb in the 2nd c. CE, to contemporary times when nearly half the continent's population claims adherence to the faith. Our historical overview will cover the flowering of medieval Ethiopian Christianity, 16th- and 17th- century Kongolese Christianity, European missions during the colonial period, the subsequent growth of independent churches, the emergence of African Christian theology, and the recent examples of charismatic and Pentecostal “mega-churches.”   We will consider the relationship between colonialism and evangelism; assess efforts in translation and inculturation of the gospel; reflect on the role of healing, prophesy and spirit-possession in conversion, and explore a variety of ways of understanding religious change across the continent.  We will attempt both to position the Christian movement within the wider context of African religious history, and to understand Africa's place in the larger course of Christian history.

Department of Sociology

SOC 4420 Sociology of Inequality (3)

Instructor:  Milton Vickerman

Mon./Wed. 3:30-6:00 New Cabell Hall 115

SOC 4550 Race and Ethics(3)

Instructor: Sabrina Pendergrass

Tues./Thurs. 2:00-3:15 New Cabell Hall 364

This course will survey theories, concepts, and empirical evidence in sociology that contribute to public debates about race and ethics.  We will consider issues such as affirmative action, deathe penalty sentencing, abortion, race-based medicine, manadatory DNA testing, the legacies of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the story of of Henrietta Lacks, and more.

SOC 4640 Urban Sociology (3)

Instructor: Ekaterina Makarova

Tues./ Thurs. 11:00-12:15, Dell 2-102

The course explores changing urban live in different cultural, social and historical settings.  It examines both classic and contemporary debates within urban sociology and relates them to the wider concerns of social theory.  Among the topics to be discussed are theories of the everyday developed ins social segregation and urban inequality, cultural meanings of the city, problems of urban policy and planning.

Year Offered: 
Undergraduate Courses