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DAAS Course Offerings

Our courses are multifaceted as they provide students with a wide-range of real-life experiences to accompany a colorful education. Students who become a part of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies will experience an array of courses from intellectual scholars from all over the world.
For a list of our currents courses, please see the LSA Course Guide. Students interested in proposing an independent study in consultation with a faculty member of their choosing will need to complete an independent study form. This form is due the first full week of classes in the term the independent is to take place.

For videos of our professors describing their courses, please CLICK HERE.  

Here are just some of our fabulous Spring/Summer 2021 courses!

AAS 104.101 First Year Student Humanities Seminar with Professor Jon Wells
MW 11a-2p REMOTE
Course Description: Focusing on the Black experience during the American Civil War, we will read novels as well as historical texts to discuss the importance of race in the 1800s. There will be no exams but instead, this is a discussion-based class that will also require a few short essays and one longer final essay.

AAS 200.101 Intro to African Studies with Professor Adam Ashforth
MW 9a-12p REMOTE
Course Description: The objective of this course is to stimulate a life-long engagement with Africa.  We seek to appreciate the joys and dynamism of African life as well as understand the sources and histories of the suffering and misery that, while real, are over-emphasized in media coverage of the continent. At the end of the course you should be conversant with the general outlines of the history of Africa; the West’s involvement with Africa; the main political, economic, and cultural features of post-colonial Africa; some of the major events and issues facing the continent over the past half-century (such as Apartheid, genocide in Rwanda, and AIDS); and aspects of African culture and life expressed in religion, music, and dance.  You will also be expected to have a detailed knowledge of a particular country of your choosing in relation to which you will explore the broad themes discussed in the course.

AAS 201.101 Intro to African American Studies with Professor Sandra Gunning
Course Description: Where did the field of African American Studies come from, and what’s it all about, exactly? Is this field about a topic (Black people?) or a point of reference from which you can look at everything else? How do traditional disciplines such as sociology, history, literature, and cultural anthropology, as well as interdisciplinary fields such as American Studies, gender studies, feminist studies, and queer studies relate to African American Studies? Given the impact of globalization, does it make sense any more to focus just on issues related to the United States? While answers to these questions are without a doubt various and sometimes even contradictory, this course will still provide you with the necessary tools and analytical space to understand the meanings, promises, and problems of this diverse and complex field.

AAS 202.101 Intro to African Diasporic Studies with Professor Benedicte Boisseron
MW 9a-12p REMOTE
Course Description: Is the African Diaspora a concept or an actual geographical location? Is it singular or are there multiple African diasporas? What does diaspora have to do with the multi-lingual, multicultural continent of over fifty countries that make up Africa? What impact has Africa and its diaspora(s) had on the so-called “white” West and its development as a site of tremendous wealth and privilege? AAS 202 engages these questions by exploring the long historical, economic, and political relationships between "the West" (e.g., United States, Britain, France, and Germany) and selected countries in Africa and the diaspora (e.g., Jamaica, Haiti, Brazil, Mali, Liberia, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Africa). Topics include: pre-colonial African empires; the Middle Passage; child soldiers; public health; conflict minerals; slavery and resistance; migration; empire, colonialism, and post-colonialism; twentieth-century freedom movements; religion; and popular forms of cultural expression.

AAS 340.101 Black Films with Professor Melba Boyd
This course focuses on the developing and burgeoning film industry emerging from the African American experience and/or its cultural context. It considers the historical circumstances that have impeded a reasonable representation of Black Americans in American cinema, while investigating the forms and styles expressed in independent and commercial productions. This includes a historical overview but focuses on more recent works since the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s and 70s. Both documentary and feature films are examined and considered in terms of their cinematic techniques and aesthetic characteristics as well as their social and political themes. The course will consider major Black directors and will attempt to view at least one of their works, and preview others. There will also be a comparative analysis of the feature and the documentary on Malcolm X. The examination and discussion of the films will require the use of cinematic vocabulary.

AAS 358.101 Mass Incarcerations with Professor Heather Thompson
For students interested in racial and economic justice, the Black Lives Matter movement, labor rights, LGBTQ rights, justice in general, or are looking for a new perspective on Black activism, look no further! This summer course is just for you. 
The Department of Afroamerican and African studies (DAAS) professor Heather Thompson will be teaching this course on the historical and present state of Black activism in the United States. 
“This course will be taking a fresh look at black activism in both the past and the present in the United States. We will approach it not in terms of a single ‘civil rights movement,’ but will look at the ways in which the Black struggle for greater justice and true equality was always, in fact,taking place in a myriad of places, in multiple contexts, and was utilizing countless creative strategies, in this country at all times, and at the same time,” Professor Thompson said in an email. 
Through this course, students will learn how to understand “the ways in which the Black community in fact shaped every important social movement in this country and, thus, that the ‘civil rights movement’ was a much more capacious movement than we usually understand it to be.”
In taking advantage of the fully remote format, students will be able to use several engaging documentaries to learn more about the topic.

AAS 358.102 African Cultural Productions and Perspectives with Professor Gabriel Ayoola
MW 11a-2p REMOTE
For students who love learning about African culture and have a brief understanding of what it is, DAAS Professor Gabriel Ayoola wants to help you expand (and debunk) what you think you might already know.  His course aims to look at Africa’s various cultural productions, both the well-known and the overlooked, and tell their stories as true to how they really happened as possible.  

“There are hundreds and thousands of other areas of African culture that are not known in the west or that are known but perceived in a different light… I’m making a statement about the stories told by the people themselves, not by an outsider who doesn’t have a true intention of how this culture has been produced and why it’s been produced and how it’s being perceived,” Ayoola said in an interview.   

“I believe for every story, there must be a level of bias, a level of stereotype in the story, so we’re going to be seeing the first-hand cultural information from the continent and perhaps challenge some of these mystic beliefs,” he continued. “The question of ‘why’ is very critical to my cause, why do Africans do what they do as opposed to how they should have done it. In a way you’re watching from a distance, it’s like watching a game of soccer. You, as a watcher, think you play better and you think ‘you should have done this, you should have done that’ because you’re not on the pitch, you don’t know what’s going on in the mind of the players and so the ‘why’ is going to be the issue here as opposed to ‘how’ it should have been done.” Any student, regardless of their academic level of understanding on African culture is encouraged to sign up for the class. Any student is welcome to participate in the conversation, and the diversity of perspectives will surely enhance the quality of each student’s understanding of African cultural productions and perspectives.

AAS 358.103 HipHop Africa with Professor Kwasi Ampene
Hip Hop in Africa is a survey of artistic expressions that represent youth culture, agency, and empowerment since the 1990s. We shall examine the history of hip hop in Africa, the artists, musical expressions, and elements as well as the socio-political and economic issues it engenders. The course will examine the range of hip hop and rap music from Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and Kenya. Hip Hop Africa is one of the many dynamic cases of cultural interactions and intersections between Africa and the African Diaspora to emerge at the end of the twentieth century. We shall interrogate a number of questions. For instance, what are the key factors that contribute to the spread of American hip hop in Africa from the 1990s to early 2000? How do stylistic authenticities represent counter-hegemonic narratives by hip hop artists in Africa as alternatives to globalization? These are just a few of the questions that will provide a framework for understanding the explosion of hip hop on the African continent.

AAS 358.104 Countercultures of Black America with Juan Rodriguez-Barrera
This class invites students to view some of the most significant movements in African American cultural history as"countercultures' existing both inside and outside official or "mainstream" ideas about progress, civilization, and national identity. We will move chronologically from the antebellum period to the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the early 21st century. Cultural highpoints will include the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Chicago Renaissance, Black Power, Black Arts, the rise of hip-hop, feminisms of color, and others.

AAS 358.105 African American History through Film and Literature with Professor Jon Wells
Course Description: This class will focus on novels and films that reflect the African American experience from the colonial era to the early twentieth century. We will cover slavery, emancipation, the experiences of women, and a number of other important aspects of the Black experience. This course is reading and writing intensive and students should come to each Zoom meeting having completed the assignments. As a DC (Distance due to COVID) course, all aspects of this course will be fully compatible with remote online learning. We will also have biweekly discussion sessions that require synchronous participation each Monday and Wednesday.