Spring 2007 Course Descriptions

For registration information please refer to the Directory of Classes


AFASC1001 section 001 Dr. Noliwe Rooks [iraas@columbia.edu]
Introduction to African-American Studies
Course Description:
Introduces the basic methods of analysis and interpretation in the field. Topics include Jim Crow segregation; institutional racism; protest traditions; the modern civil rights movements; Black Power; and an analysis of the recent literature, culture, social organization, political behavior, and ideological debates within the black American community.

AFASC3200 section 001 Dr. Mio Matsumoto [mm936@columbia.edu]
African-American & African Thought
Course Description:
An analysis of the political thought of selected black theorists (e.g., Edward Blyden, Frantz Fanon, Patricia Hill Collins, Cheikh Anta Diop, Kwame Appiah, Booker T. Washington and C. L. R. James). The course will also examine the political, social, and economic conditions and developments in the United States and the African continent as the historical backgrounds.

AFASC3930 Section 001 Dr. Imani Perry [IRAAS@columbia.edu]
Topics in the Black Experience: Brown vs Board of Education
Course Description:
This course will examine the legal history and cultural legacy of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court opinion outlawing school segregation, through examinations of case law, film, personal narrative and other historical documents. We will explore the impact of Brown, and its ongoing relevance for contemporary debates about race and equality.

AFASC3930 Section 002 Dr. Jill Humphries [jh2561@columbia.edu]
Topics in the Black Experience: Black Civil Society, International Affairs and United States Foreign Policy
Course Description:
This course examines the historical role of Americans of African descent living in the United States and the changing contours that shaped their involvement in international affairs and foreign policy. Situating the Black Freedom movement in the context of global freedom movements we will use historical text, literature, art and contemporary movements to examine the political, social, economic, and cultural factors that shaped African identity in the United States and that led to the development of a unique and distinct ‘black foreign policy’. We will also explore how the civil rights movement changed the socio-economic and political landscape thus creating a tripartite black body politic one elite, middle and working class and how the social and economic location of these three groups makes it increasingly more difficult to conceptualize a ‘black foreign policy and/or international perspective’.

Course #FASC3930 Section 003 C. Daniel Dawson [cd2277@columbia.edu]
Topics in the Black Experience Seminar: Honey is My Knife: African Spirituality in the Americas
Course Description:
This seminar will investigate the cultural contributions of Africans in the formation of the contemporary Americas. There will be a particular focus on the African religious traditions that have continued and developed in spite of hostile social and political pressures. Because of their important roles in the continuations of African aesthetics, the areas of visual art, music and dance will be emphasized in the exploration of the topic. This seminar will also discuss two important African ethnic groups: the Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria, and the Bakongo of Central Africa. It will highlight the American religious traditions of these cultures, e.g., Candomblé Nago/Ketu, Santeria/Lucumi, Shango, Xangô, etc., for the Yoruba, and Palo Mayombe, Umbanda, Macumba, Kumina, African-American Christianity, etc., for the Bakongo and other Central Africans. In the course discussions, the Americas are to include Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, the United States and numerous other appropriate locations.

There will also be a focus on visual artists like Charles Abramson, Jose Bedia, Juan Boza, Lourdes Lopez, Manuel Mendive, etc., whose works are grounded in African based religions. In addition, we will explore how African religious philosophy has impacted on every-day life in the Americas, for example in the areas of international athletics, procedures of greeting and degreeting, culinary practices, etc. Honey is My Knife: African Spirituality in the Americas will include presentations by innovative guest scholars: The seminar will include an extensive use of audio-visual materials including slides, videos and audio recordings.


AFASG4080 Section 001 Dr. Manning Marable [mm247@columbia.edu]
Topics in the Black Experience: Malcolm X Seminar
Course Description:
In 2000, The Malcolm X Project at Columbia University was established primarily to accomplish two goals: (1) to construct a web-based, multimedia version of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, embedding more than one thousand pieces of data – e.g., videotaped interviews, FBI documents, personal correspondence by Malcolm X, audio-taped sermons and speeches – into the text; and the completion of a full-length, detailed biography of the subject. The multimedia version of the Autobiography was constructed between 2001 and 2004 with the support of Columbia University’s Office of the Provost. The biographical research on Malcolm X has, to date, produced a chapter on the subject in Living Black History (New York: Basic Civitas, 2006), and a book-in-progress, to be published by Viking/Penguin Books in 2009. In the process, we have also constructed a significant “Malcolm X Archive” of thousands of articles, FBI documents, rare audiotape recordings of speeches and interviews related to Malcolm X.

The graduate-level seminar on the life and times of Malcolm X provides an original and challenging reinterpretation of one of the most prominent American leaders of the twentieth century. By the end of the seminar, I hope you will come to appreciate the meaning of literary scholar Edward Said’s remark, when he suggested in his book, Representations of the Intellectual that the goal of non-Western intellectuals “cannot be to replace a white policeman with his native counterpart, but rather the invention of new souls.” Malcolm Little invented and re-invented himself many times, as “Detroit Red,” “Jack Carlton” (in 1944, when Malcolm worked briefly as a bar entertainer and drummer at Manhattan’s Lobster Pond nightclub), “Satan” (during Malcolm’s first year in prison), “Malcolm X,” and “El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.” But in a larger political context, Malcolm strove to motivate the construction of “new souls.” Oppressed people, Malcolm X had learned, could not become free unless they were first made to feel themselves to be “new souls.”

AFASG4080 Section 003 Dr. Francesca Momplaisir [fmm7@columbia.edu]
Topics in the Black Experience: Post-Colonial African Literature
Course Description:
"Post-Colonial African Literature Through the Eyes of the Greats: The Work of Chinua Achebe, Ousmane Sembene and Ngugi wa Thiong’o,” will examine the novels, films and criticism of these artists through the lens of Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth. The body of work produced by these authors and Fanon's predictive analysis of post-colonialism resistance movements form the basis of the African literary canon. Their works have influenced decades of writers who have followed, enhanced and defamiliarized the texts by contributing complex expressions of African cultures, politics, gender landscape, and economy, thereby delivering a polyphonic contemporary discourse.

Course # AFASG4080 Section 004 Dr. William Lowe [wlowe@barnard.edu]
Topics in the Black Experience: Jazz Demography of Harlem
Course Description:
The seminar will set out to map the lives of Jazz and the lives of Harlem in the 20th Century. This mapping of this music in this place will be about the changing sounds and meanings and venues that make up the story of the Music in the people. We will consider the comings and the goings of the people and the music and the places where the people and the music make and remake and unmake Harlem. We will consult texts. We will consult recordings. We will consult live performances. Time will be spent in the classroom. Time will be spent outside the classroom in Harlem, in venues of performance, in venues of documentation, in venues of practice. As a group we will walk as well as talk as we interrogate these spaces and places. Some places are sacred, others are secular. Some venues are of concrete and bricks, while other venues are of the imagination and the creative mind. All swing, all dance with the complex movement of people and place and time: Harlem’s Jazz Demography.

Course #AFASG080 Section 005 Dr. Steven Gregory [sg820@columbia.edu]
Topics in the Black Experience: Harlem: The Cultural Politics of Neo-Liberal Change
Course Description:
This pro-seminar investigates the contemporary restructuring of greater Harlem under the pressure of neo-liberal urban development strategies and real estate speculation. We will situate these developments within the historical context of housing segregation and urban renewal policies in the US, and examine current debates regarding gentrification. Equally important, we will investigate transformations in public culture, space, memory and consumption that are both accompanying and enabling this transformation of northern Manhattan. This seminar will be research driven; that is, students will develop, conduct and present semester long research projects on topics related to this course.

For course registration information please visit the registrar page at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/

*To reach any of the professors please email iraas@columbia.edu with the Professor Name in the Subject Line

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