Courses and Requirements
The goal of Hamilton's Africana Studies Department is to explore the dynamics of African-based cultures in their many dimensions and across many borders and eras.
In keeping with this goal, many of the department’s course offerings focus extensively and transdisciplinarily on issues of social, structural, and institutional hierarchy as they pertain to race and a host of other dimensions of identity.
All concentrators must take two of the following courses: 220, 221, 224, 306, 382, or 405
Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies Requirement:
Courses in the Africana Studies concentration explore and examine issues that satisfy the Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies requirement. The department emphasizes the breadth of these hierarchies by requiring its concentrators to grapple with them as they fulfill the two intermediate course requirements detailed above.
A concentration in Africana Studies consists of at least 9 courses: 102, 112, 130, or 190; 201; two courses selected from among: 220, 221, 224, 306, 382, or 405; 549; 550; and three electives. We encourage students to take at least one course focused on women or gender.
The senior program (549, 550) is a two-semester program culminating in a written thesis based on original research. The fall term course involves learning methodology and building a thesis proposal presented to the department faculty at the end of the term. Students with an average of at least 3.4 in the concentration may receive honors through distinguished work in 550.
A minor in Africana Studies consists of 102, 112, 130, or 190; 201, one course selected from 220, 221, 224, 382, or 405; and two electives.
Certain elective courses from other disciplines not listed may be substituted with permission of the chair. Please consult the appropriate departments and programs for full descriptions of courses, requirements and prerequisites.
Blackness Across the Diaspora.
An interdisciplinary examination of the complex array of Black political, social and cultural practices across the Diaspora. It focuses on the historical and contemporary experiences of people of African descent in North and South America, the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa. The class will engage in close readings of classic texts and other readings from a variety of historical, literary, and artistic sources that offer insight into the dynamics of Black thought and practice and introduce core elements of the discipline. (Proseminar.) Open to first-years and sophomores only. Maximum enrollment, 16. Westmaas.
Principles of Geoscience: Geology and Human Events in North Africa and the Middle East.
An interdisciplinary study exploring the influence of environment, water resources, climate change and bedrock geology of North Africa and the Middle East on prehistory, history, international relations and prospects for the future. Special emphasis on developing GIS skills. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) (Proseminar.) Three two-hour class sessions per week. Required field trip to the Adirondack region. Not open to students who have taken any other course in Principles of Geoscience. (Same as Geosciences 103.) Maximum enrollment, 15. Tewksbury.
The Fundamentals of Race.
An introductory course that contextualizes and critically analyzes the concept of race as it relates to people of African descent and in terms of the dynamics of how it emerges and operates within the social world. Transdisciplinary in nature, the course draws upon multiple domains and explores multiple ways in which race is constructed, functions, and contested. (Writing-intensive.) (Proseminar.) Open to first-years only Maximum enrollment, 16. Franklin.
Study of black lives and struggles in particular places, and as intrinsic to the Western world. Explores iconic representations and knowledge of black social life and how these are contested in narrative and visual (artistic) expressions; what we are taught to see, and to ignore; the tension and play between ideas we inherit from the outside, and our inner worlds. Topics include representation, resistance, imperialism, violence, racialization, social erasure, subjectivity, power, and art. (Writing-intensive.) Open to first and second year students only. Maximum enrollment, 20. H Merrill.
Understanding Caribbean Carnival.
Introduces the Carnival tradition in the Caribbean, examining the rise of Carnival from its slavery and post-emancipation roots; the political and historical dynamic associated with Carnival customs; the complex cultural expressions forged by Carnival’s unique mix of folklore and religion including vodun, dance and dress styles, satire and musical forms like reggae and calypso; the interrelations between the economic and cultural products created by Caribbean peoples, and the spread, content and impact of modern Carnival to large North American cities. Westmaas.
History of Jazz to the 1950s.
A study of jazz from its origins (its African heritage, blues and ragtime) to 1950. A survey of jazz styles, including New Orleans and Chicago styles, boogie-woogie, swing, bebop and cool jazz. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Open to seniors with consent of instructor. (Same as Music 160/260.) Woods.
Stand: New Voices of Protest.
This course explores the contributions of a new generation of black leadership including students, women and community organizers during the civil rights and Black power movements. We will consider the contributions of well-known figures like Huey Newton and Malcolm X and lesser known figures like Septima Clark, the director of the freedom schools. (Writing-intensive.) Open to first-year students only. Maximum enrollment, 20. Carter.
An examination of the emergence of Africana Studies as a transdisciplinary field of social and cultural critique and politics. Explores the work of foundational (e.g., W.E.B Dubois and Anna Julia Cooper) and contemporary figures. Topics include but are not limited to the history of Africana thought, race and global racial formation, resistance and politics, intersectionality, gender and sexuality, representation, white privilege, belonging, Blackness, and diaspora. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 102, 112, 130, 190 or permission of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. Carter D.
African-American History to 1877.
Traces African-American history from the slave trade through the end of Reconstruction. Course material will include secondary and primary sources, including slave narratives, court documents, photography, music, and advertisements. The course will consider broad themes, including agency and resistance, the relationship of race to categories of gender, class, and sexuality, and the meaning of freedom. (Same as History 203.)
African-American History from 1877 to the Present.
Examines the history of African Americans in the post-emancipation United States, looking closely at black communities during periods of industrialization, migration, war, and globalization. Lectures and discussion will draw on primary sources, including films, novels, poetry, radio and television, and speeches. Conversations will focus on the diversity of experiences and identities that have comprised the African-American experience in the United States. (Same as History 204.)
Haiti and the Caribbean.
A broad introduction to Haiti’s history since the slave revolt of 1791 leading to the creation of the Haitian state in 1804. The course examines the historical, political, and geo–political relationships between Haiti and Europe, and between Haiti and its Caribbean and North American neighbors; Haiti’s antislavery impact on the Western hemisphere; the consequences of the U.S. occupation of Haiti; Haiti’s political and economic tragedy of the reign of the Duvaliers (1957-1986); the rise and fall of President Aristide; and finally, the consequences of the tragic earthquake of 2010. (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, One course in Africana Studies or consent of Instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16. Westmaas.
Global Race and Sport.
The course is designed to examine race and diversity issues in the world of sports from the early 20th century to the present. Topics will examine and provide critical inquiry on the impact of race and racism in major world sports and the Olympic movement, including football(soccer), tennis, boxing, cricket, baseball, American football and athletics. The course is inter-sectional in scope and interrogates issues of masculinity, gender, the structures of power, as well as new forms of global capitalism in sports, and individuals that have personified their areas of sporting achievement. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Westmaas.
Caribbean Literature in the Crucible.
A critical overview of Caribbean literatures in the light of the complex legacies that have given rise to a body of creative work that seems to constantly fashion and refashion itself. Such literary recasting helps to communicate an intricate history of genocides, survival, exile, resistance, endurance, and outward migrations. Particular attention to writers such as Roger Mias, Martin Carter, George Lamming, Derek Walcott, Patricia Powell, Earl Lovelace, Paule Marshall and Michelle Cliff. Prerequisite, One course in literature. (History or Identity and Difference) (Same as Literature 216.) Odamtten.
Politics of Africa.
Comparative examination of the domestic politics of sub-Saharan Africa. Central focus on explaining the recent rise of both multi-party democracy and state collapse across the continent. Examination of the colonial legacy, the nature of the African state, ethnic conflict, class divisions, the role of the military and the problems of economic underdevelopment. Prerequisite, 112, 114 or Africana Studies 101. (Same as Government 218.) Olarinmoye.
The idea of Africa historically has served as a metaphor for exoticism, sexuality or savagery in western discourse. In the contemporary world, it has been imagined as the site of seemingly insoluble problems such as the collapse of the state, genocide & famine. Against this backdrop, the course explores colonial/neocolonial state structural and institutional hierarchies, related to the role of ideas of race, gender & class based inequalities in postcolonial societies, warfare, international humanitarian efforts and asymmetrical relationships between cultural traditions in Africa and the West. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Carter.
Africa in Diaspora.
Examines the experience of African people in Africa, the Americas and Europe from the 16th century to the present. Advances alternative knowledge of Africa and her descendants. Themes include slavery, resistance and revolution, freedom struggles, Black radical thought, race and culture, the Jim Crow south, collective identity, black power and the Black Panther Party, Gender identity, colorism, colonial legacies, Black identity and experience in relation to social, structural, and institutional hierarchies such as race, class, and gender. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Maximum enrollment, 20. H Merrill.
Race, Gender and Culture.
A critical philosophical examination of the normative categories of race, gender and culture. Topics include the origin, character and function of racial, gender and social identities. Analysis will focus on questions concerning the malleability of these identities, as well as questions concerning their psychological and social significance. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Open only to 1st and 2nd year students. (Same as Philosophy 222 and Women's and Gender Studies 222.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
Black Female Voices: Writing Women of Color in the African Diaspora.
Explores the different ways black women have struggled for equality, constructed their own identity and understood their own place in American history. Emphasizes critical thinking about African American women's history and focuses on the many forms with which we tell the stories of women's lives. (Same as American Studies 223.)
Gender, Space and Identity in the African Diaspora.
This course examines how racialized and gendered identities are made in relation to space. How does gender intersect with race, class and other power relations embedded in the places we live? How do women and men come to occupy different places in the world – literally and figuratively – or occupy the same places in different ways? Case studies focus on identity making in relation to the body and the course more broadly focuses on the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity as matrices of social and structural power relations and hierarchies. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Same as Women's and Gender Studies 224.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
Black Internationalism: The Making of Black Political Culture.
An examination of the development of a vibrant black political culture that was transnational in scope and predicated on the shared experiences of people of African descent. Drawing upon the networks of communication created by the spread of ideas, news and rumor during the slave revolts in the Caribbean at the end of the 18th century, as well as writings that included novels, political tracts, speeches, newspapers and magazines in the 19th and 20th centuries. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 101 or one course in government, history or sociology. Maximum enrollment, 20.
African-American Theatre from Ira Aldridge to August Wilson.
Study, discussion and oral performance of selected works of drama by African-Americans from the 1860s to the present. Focuses on themes within the plays in relation to the current social climate and how they affect the play's evolution in the context of changing U.S. cultural and political attitudes. Prerequisite, Theatre 100 or a Africana Studies course. Open to sophomores and juniors only, or by instructors signature. (Same as Theatre 238.) Cryer.
The Black Self: Identity and Consciousness.
A philosophical exploration of a variety of historical and contemporary works that illuminate and influence the phenomenological experience of being black. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, One course in philosophy or Africana studies, or consent of instructor. (Same as Philosophy 242.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
The Marrow of African-American Literature.
Exploration of how African-Americans, in the face of enslavement, exclusion and terror, produced literature expressing their identities and aspirations. In examining themes such as abduction, separation and resistance, students will assess the inscription of self on the emergent national culture by writers such as Olaudah Equiano, Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Wilson, Frances Harper, Sutton Griggs and Charles Chesnutt. Prerequisite, One course in literature, or consent of instructor. (History or Identity and Difference) Open to sophomores and juniors only. (Same as Literature 255.)
History of Jazz Since the 1950s.
A study of the life, times and music of selected jazz musicians from 1950 to the present. Emphasis on the range of jazz styles from that era including funky, fusion and free jazz. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Offered in alternate years. (Same as Music 259.) Woods.
African-American Popular Music.
A study of the music of selected popular African-American artists, including rhythm-and-blues artists, black gospel soloists and performers of soul music and rap music. Focus on the social issues, musical modes of expression and cultural importance of the artists. Prerequisite, one full-credit course in music. Music 362 has an additional independent project. Registration at the 300-level only with instructor’s permission. Offered in alternate years. (Same as Music 262/362.)
South Africa: From Colonialism to Democracy.
Survey from the first Dutch settlement on the Cape in 1652 through the first multiracial democratic election in 1994. Issues will be explored through the experiences of indigenous peoples, such as the Khoisan, Zulu and Xhosa, migrant laborers from Asia, the “coloured” community, Afrikaners and British settlers. (Same as History 278.) Grant.
Students Leading the Change for Racial and Gender Justice: Identity, Agency, Transformative Leadership.
This leadership project brings together students, faculty, and staff from Hamilton College and comparable institutions for two main purposes. One is to promote an intersectional understanding about raced and gendered campus climates that give rise to a range of damaging experiences, from the more subtle micro-aggression to hate crimes and sexual assaults and rape. The other purpose is to develop organizing strategies to create diverse, safe, and just campuses. This course includes a required field study at the Highlander Center in Tennessee, March 19-24. Prerequisite, Intro level course in either WMGST, AFRST, or SOC. (Same as Women's and Gender Studies 289.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Margo Okazawa-Rey.
Black Popular Culture.
Examines black popular culture of the African diaspora through an exploration of a series of representations, cultural practices and folk traditions. Participants will interrogate the "black experience" and its legacy in aspects of consumer culture, film, music (jazz, hip hop, blues), television, social class and gender. Considers the methodological and theoretical implications of these approaches for both anthropological inquiry and Africana studies. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
Seminar: Black Europe.
This course reconsiders the meaning of Europe through critical examination of past & present representations, policies, and the continual renegotiation of belonging. Europe is a contested site of identity, place, and belonging where post-colonial African and other populations are increasingly visible. Focusing on the African Diaspora in Europe, the course examines such issues as colonization and its legacies, Blackness and Anti-Blackness, political subjectivity, multiculturalism, citizenship and belonging, gender, the border, the refugee crisis, and the making of racial and class hierarchies. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Proseminar.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Merrill or Carter.
Black Women's Experience in the United States.
Examination of the experiences of black women in the United States from 1800-2006. Emphasis on the intellectual history of black women. Topics include the legacy of slavery, the role and influence of religion and the black church, the history of black women's education, the development of black feminism, the roles of and attitudes toward black lesbian and bisexual women, the role and impact of black women in popular culture and music. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 101 or consent of instructor. (Same as American Studies 311 and Women's and Gender Studies 311.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
Ghanaian Literature: From Colony to Post-Colony.
Through a close examination of selected works by West African writers such as Kobina Sekyi, Casely-Hayford, Mabel Dove, Ayi Kwei Armah, Efua Sutherland, Ama Ata Aidoo, Kofi Awoonor, Atukwei Okai, Yaw Asare, Akosua Busia, Kofi Anyidoho and Amma Darko, students will examine how the Slave Castles, the Sankofa Bird and Ananse the Spider have shaped the manner in which Ghanaian writers portray their society. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one 200-level course in literature (204, 205, 206 or 264 preferred). (History or Identity and Difference) (Same as Literature 313.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
Critical Race Theory.
A close examination of the emergence, aims, and argumentative styles of Critical Race Theory. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, One course in Philosophy and one course in Africana Studies. (Same as Philosophy 319.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Franklin.
Globalization and African Diaspora in Europe.
Europe is a contested site of identity, citizenship and belonging where postcolonial populations have become increasingly visible. Focusing on the lives people of African descent and the border between Europe and Africa, explores globalization in contemporary Europe while examining such issues as economic and political restructuring, border politics, colonial legacies, national and ‘hybrid’ identity, transnationalism, the meaning of ‘home’, humanitarianism and refugees, European immigration policies and detention spaces, and the politics of fear. (Proseminar.) (Same as Anthropology 328.) Maximum enrollment, 16.
Digital History and New Media: Theories and Praxis.
Focuses on the process of creating digital history and the impact of digital media technologies on the theory and practice of U.S. history and critical race theory, broadly defined. Readings, labs/workshops and discussions address the philosophy and practice of digital history, questioning how digital tools and resources are enabling and transforming analysis both in traditional print scholarship, and in emerging digital scholarship across the humanities. (Same as American Studies 330 and Cinema and Media Studies 330.) Maximum enrollment, 12.
Geographies of Race and Gender.
Examines how “natural” differences of gender and race are created through discourses, images and everyday practices in particular spatial contexts. Using historical and fictional texts, ethnographies, theoretical discussions and films the course explores the production of racial and gender differences in European development and imperialist expansion. Focuses on three historical periods in the production of racialized and gendered geographies: plantation/slave societies in the Americas, African Colonialism, contemporary globalization and ethnic diversity in Europe. (Same as Women's and Gender Studies 333.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Merrill.
Since the great northern migrations of the World War II era much of African American experience has been lived out in urban worlds, from New York to San Francisco. The city has held out a peculiar hope for a better life, celebrated in fiction, scholarly literature and popular culture, since the Black exodus from the South. We explore the American story of promise and inclusion and the visible and at times hidden workings of exclusion, two stories that unfold simultaneously in the experience of urban America. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, One course in Africana Studies or consent of Instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. Carter.
Race and American Democracy.
Survey of the role of race and equality in American democracy. Special emphasis on understanding how notions of racial equality have advanced and declined throughout American history and the role of race in current American politics. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one 200-level course in American politics. (Same as Government 340.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
Cleopatra was a witness to and a shaper of the history of ancient Egypt and the late Roman Republic. To posterity the historical Cleopatra is an enigma, but her image in film, literature, art and popular culture is ever present. Through authors such as Horace, Plutarch, Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw and through cinematic treatments from the 1940s-1970s, explores how the historical figure of Cleopatra became both the signifier and embodiment of sexual and racial politics across historical periods. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, one course in classical studies or Africana studies. (Same as Classics 372 and Women's and Gender Studies 372.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
A study of the history of ancient Egypt and of its interaction with other ancient African kingdoms, including Nubia, Kush and Punt. Examination of Egypt’s prehistory, language, social and gender relations, and cultural development. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, One Classical Studies or Africana Studies course. (Same as Classics 374.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
Africana Literatures and Critical Discourses.
An examination of literature produced by writers of former European colonies in Africa and its Diaspora, with particular attention to literary and theoretical issues, as well as responses to such developments as Negritude, feminism and post-colonialism. Readings will include selected twentieth and twenty-first century writers. Assignments will involve both written and digital work. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one 200-level course in literature. Not open to first-year students. (Theory or Intermedia) Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. (Same as Literature 376.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
African American Literature Beyond the Edge.
A critical survey of literatures from multiple genres concerned with conjuration, speculation, investigation, transgression or science fiction produced by African-American writers from the 19th century to the present. Includes works by such writers as Chesnutt, Sutton Griggs, W. E. B. Du Bois, Fisher, Chester Himes, Ernest Gaines, Octavia Butler, Walter Mosley, Steve Barnes, Jewelle Gomez, Samuel Delaney, Gayle Jones, Derrick Bell, Paula Woods, Tananarive Due and Nalo Hopkinson. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, One 200-level course in literature. (Genre or Identity and Difference) Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. (Same as Literature 378.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Odamtten.
Global African Social Movements.
An interdisciplinary introduction to global social and political movements in Africa and the Americas from the Revolutions at the end of the 18th century to the present. Addresses theories of social movements, their racial and cultural formation, the variations in type and consequences of movements, and the contexts in which they arose. These contexts include the intersectionality of race, class and gender within persisting historical & racial hierarchies. Movements examined include the anti-slavery movement; the Pan-Africanist movement, the women’s movement and the rise of modern NGOs. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, 220, 221 or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. Westmaas.
Seminar: Black Feminist Thought.
Interdisciplinary examination of the tradition of black feminist thought as it spans African and African-American heritages.Exploration of how black women are not simply victims of oppression but visionary agents of change.Areas examined include history, literature,music,art,education, sociology and film. There is intersectional analysis of the social, structural, and institutional hierarchies within the identities of women of African descent (gender/transgender, race, white supremacy, sexual/affectional orientation, class, color, and ability). Prerequisite, one course in women's studies or consent of instructor. (Same as Women's and Gender Studies 405.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Haley.
Seminar: Major African Writers.
A comprehensive comparative investigation into works by two or more contemporary African writers. Attention to theoretical and practical questions of ideology, genre, language, gender, class and geographic region to determine the multiple articulations among authors, texts and audiences. Prerequisite, three courses in literature or consent of instructor. Open to juniors and seniors only. (Same as Literature 473.) Maximum enrollment, 12.
Senior Seminar in Africana Studies.
The research process at it relates to fulfillment of the senior project, including the formulation of a research project, methodological approaches, frames of research, research design, collection of data, and analysis. Culminates in presentation of a thesis/project proposal. Maximum enrollment, 12. The department.
An interdisciplinary project to be approved by the committee. Limited to senior concentrators. The Department.
(from the Hamilton Course Catalogue)