Africana Studies


Contact Us

For more information about Africana Studies at Bard College or questions about this site:

Drew Thompson
Director of Africana Studies
Tel: 845-758-6822 x4600
Office: Hopson 303
Bard College
PO Box 5000
New York 12504-5000

Course Descriptions

Click on the course names below to see the professor and full description.
  • AFR 101 Introduction to Africana Studies
  • AFR 110 Introduction to African States and Societies
  • ANTH 111 Archaeological Field Methods: Native Americans on the Bard Lands
  • ANTH 208 The Collapse of the State in Africa
  • ANTH 208A How the Victorians Put the 'Others' in their Place
  • ANTH 208C Africa and British Anthropology 1920-1990
  • ANTH 218 Africa: The Great Rift
  • ANTH 243 African Diaspora Religions
  • ANTH 248 Colonials in Africa
  • ANTH 256 Race and Ethnicity in Brazil
  • ANTH 257 Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Brazil
  • ANTH 265 Race and Nature in Africa
  • ANTH 268 War, Culture, Politics, and Religions in Sudan
  • ANTH 275 Post-Apartheid Imaginaries
  • ANTH 278 The State in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • ANTH 325 Environment, Development and Power
  • ANTH 331 Cultural Politics of Animals
  • ANTH 349 Political Ecology
  • ARTH 101 Perspectives in World Art
  • ARTH 140 Survey of Islamic Art
  • ARTH 253 Africa in the Americas
  • ARTH 273 Religious Imagery in Latin America
  • ARTH 339 Topics in 20th Century Latin American Art
  • HIST 104 American Bedrock
  • HIST 115 Race as a Variable in History
  • HIST 124 France and Empire in the Early Modern World
  • HIST 130 Origins of American Citizen
  • HIST 159 Modern France
  • HIST 178 Africa South of the Sahara,1800 to the Present
  • HIST 2115 The Black Experience in America
  • HIST 2133 Making of the Atlantic World
  • HIST 2134 Comparative Atlantic Slave Societies
  • HIST 2271 Black Thought in the Francophone World

More courses...

HIST 232 American Urban History

Myra Armstead

The course is a study of urbanization in America, as a social process best understood by relevant case studies. Topics will include the establishment of the nation’s urban network, the changing function of cities, the European roots of American city layout and governance, urban social structure, the emergence of urban culture, and American views of cities.

HIST 263 Slavery

Myra Armstead / Carolyn Dewald

Slavery can be defined as an institution in which an individual's labor is extracted--usually for the duration of his/her life, usually with the imprimatur of recognized legal authorities, and usually with some sort of social stigma attached to enslaved status. This system of inequality has touched every human civilization; since ancient times, societies in Asia, Africa, pre-Columbian America, and Europe have all practiced various forms of slavery. Debt/poverty, war victories, ideology, religion, race, and/or sex have provided avenues and reasons for the enslavement of human populations. This course will focus mainly on the ideas, practices, and experiences of slavery in Greek and Roman societies in the eighth century BCE through the second century CE, and then later in the Americas, particularly North America, from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. But it will also briefly consider indigenous African slavery and medieval, Islamic slavery. The historical "progression" of slavery forms, the relationship among types of slavery, and the differences among slavery systems will be discussed as well. 

HIST 2631 Capitalism and Slavery

Christian Crouch

Scholars have argued that there is an intimate relationship between the contemporary wealth of the developed world and the money generated through four hundred years of chattel slavery in the Americas and the transatlantic slave trade. Is there something essential that links capitalism, even liberal democratic capitalism, to slavery? How have struggles against slavery and for freedom and rights, dealt with this connection? This course will investigate the development of this linkage, studying areas like the gender dynamics of early modern Atlantic slavery, the correlation between coercive political and economic authority, and the financial implications of abolition and emancipation.  We will focus on North America and the Caribbean from the early 17th century articulation of slavery through the staggered emancipations of the 19th century. The campaign against the slave trade has been called the first international human rights movement – today does human rights discourse simply provide a human face for globalized capitalism, or offer an alternative vision to it?  Questions of contemporary reparations, rising colonialism and markets of the nineteenth century, and the 'duty' of the Americas to Africa will also be considered.  Readings will include foundational texts on capitalism and a variety of historical approaches to the problem of capitalism within slavery, from economic, cultural, and intellectual perspectives.  There are no prerequisites, although HIST 130, 2133, or 263 all serve as introductory backgrounds

HIST 280B American Environmental History II

Mark Lytle

This course will investigate the history of Americans’ interaction with their environment from roughly 1890 to the present. It will explore different strategies that historians have used to examine environmental history. It will also investigate question such as how the role of the federal government has changed from the “conservation” to the “environmental” eras, why the Dust Bowl occurred, how chemical warfare changed the life span of bugs, whether wilderness should be central to the environmental movement, whether you can be an environmentalist if “you work for a living,” whether Sunbelt cities are part of the environment, if blocking dams in the Grand Canyon was good for the environment, how the environmental justice movement and Earth First! have impacted the environmental movement, whether you can find “nature” at Yosemite National Park, Sea World, and the Nature Company, and other topics central to how we live in the world. It will include reading of both primary and secondary historical sources as well as two short papers and one longer research project.

HIST 306 Intellectual Traditions of African-American Women

Tabetha Ewing

Black women's thought has remained hidden from the mainstream history of ideas, willfully sequestered in diaries, private correspondence, and the minutes of semi-private organizations or carelessly excluded by formal institutions. There exists an intellectual tradition of Afro-American women that is as rich and diverse as the experiences that helped to shape it. This seminar will focus on ideas about slavery, race, color, anger, class, work (especially domestic service), suffrage, resistance, gender and sexuality, marriage, motherhood, charity, religion and spirituality, Africa (imagined), and escape. In the first part of the course we will read essayists, such as. Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, and Patricia Hill Collins, who write about Black women and explicitly draw on pre-existing traditions. Their methodologies will help to guide through a sensitive and pointed exploration of the primary sources that will be the focus of the second part of the seminar. Students will work chronologically from the mid-19th century to mid-20th century, always across the disciplines, using letters, fiction, institutional documents, music, art, and film to get at this subject, which by definition does not exist.

HIST 3113 Making of the Atlantic World 1500-1800

Alice Stroup

In seeking a short route to the Indies, Europeans unwittingly transformed the Atlantic from barrier to basin.  To understand why and how these voyages of discovery and conquest occurred, we will examine plague, dissent, technology, and commerce in Europe.  To grasp the consequences, we will read Crosby on biological imperialism, Thornton on Africans in the making of the Atlantic Basin, and Williams on slavery and capitalism.

HIST 3125 Immigration and American Society 1880-1930

Joel Perlmann

This course will explore the experiences of the immigrants to the United States -- how and why they came, and how they adjusted to and transformed American society, to its economy, culture and politics.   During these years, new immigrant groups – Slavs, Italians and Jews in particular – came in unprecedented numbers.   How Americans conceived of their absorption – in terms of assimilation or cultural pluralism for example – and how indeed Americans came to racialize these immigrants will be important themes.   By the 1920s racialization, social science, sentiment and politics all worked to create very restrictive anti-immigration laws aimed to preserve the older ethnic balance of America, and this dynamic will also be an important theme of the course.   At the same time, in the West and Southwest the experiences of Asians (especially the Chinese) and Mexicans will command our attention.   Beyond the class readings, each student will focus on a particular research topic that will culminate in a term paper.

HIST 3142 Violence in the Early Americas

Christian Crouch

The frontier is one of the great underlying constructs of identity in the Western Hemisphere.  This nebulous, turbulent borderland has been marshaled to defend everything from the natural expansion of the United States to the hallowed memory of a colonial past to the current political rights of indigenous groups.  But what was the violence of the colonial Americas really like? Who participated, who suffered, who fought, and what did it all mean? What constituted "exceptional" or "daily" violence? This seminar investigates the violent interactions between Native Americans and Europeans, between competing European empires, between slaves and masters, and all the categories in between - that shaped life in the colonial Americas.  Theories of violence will be considered in addition to the primary and secondary colonial sources in order to understand the role violence plays in social and cultural formations.

HIST 3147 African Americans and US Cities

Myra Armstead

African-Americans have historically had an ambiguous relationship with American cities when compared to the generally anti-urban strain in mainstream American life.  For black Americans, cities have been imagined as places of hope and opportunity to a far greater extent than for the general American populace.  At the same time, the experience of blacks in American cities has been mixed-as they have been notably, if not disproportionately, salient sites of immiseration and violence.   This course will consider variations in African-American urban life over time, and the reasons for such shifts. Fulfills the American Studies Junior Seminar requirement.

HIST 324 Race, Ethnicity, and Assimilation in American Thought

Joel Perlmann

We use these three terms as though they are clear and unchanging.   But the use of concepts usually has a history of change, and these three surely do.   How have the understandings of groups and group differences evolved?     At one time ‘race differences’ was thought to capture differences in values and abilities among groups, differences found “in the blood”; not so today.    Also, race has referred to a different range of groups at different times – first and foremost the ‘color races’ black, white, yellow, and red.   But for decades the term was also used to include European immigrant groups, as in "the Irish race", “the Hebrew race” or  “the Southern Italian race”.   And how does contemporary usage of 'race' differ from ‘ethnicity?’    Indeed, how did our concept ‘ethnicity’ -- unknown in 1930 -- even come into being?   Finally, how do groups undergo “assimilation?”   Different concepts of assimilation have implied different views of the American future.    This course falls between cultural history and social theory; it deals with changing American classifications of groups in social theory as well as in law, politics, literature, and popular cultural understandings.  It will concentrate on the century and a half from the Civil War to the present, and rest heavily on primary sources.   An extended term paper working with such sources will be the major writing assignment.

HIST 371 The Civil Rights Movement

Myra Armstead

The intense decade of political ferment surrounding the struggle for black rights in the United States, stretching roughly from 1954 (Brown v. Board of Education) to 1964 (Civil Rights Act), will be contextualized in this course. This period will be explored longitudinally—against a longer history of Constitutionally-based precedents and legislation—and against the backdrop of such other pertinent developments following World War II as the rise of a human rights movement, the Cold War, decolonization of Africa and a growing Pan-African sensibility, northward migration, and simultaneous domestic social movements. The course will also address explanations for the attenuation of the Movement. Readings consist of a variety of primary sources including autobiographies, speeches, legal documents, memoirs and secondary material by several historians who have produced important monographs on the Movement. Students will be expected to produce a long research paper in this course.

HIST 373 Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Myra Armstead

The trans-Atlantic slave trade spanned roughly 400 years after 1450 and was a distinct episode in human history. It was a departure from all previous years when the majority of people held as slaves were not African. The New World plantations supplied by the trade supplanted earlier plantations located in the Mediterranean. The volume of the Atlantic commerce in African captives exceeded the number of European immigrants to the Americans until 1820 by nearly four times. This phase of history prompts many questions: Who were the key actors in the trade? Why did Africans participate in the trade? Were there earlier African experiences of international trade in human beings? Was there indigenous slavery in Africa, and how did it compare and/or connect to the Atlantic trade? What were the crucial dynamics of the sea voyage to the Americas as free whites and captive blacks encountered each other, often for the first time? What impact did the trade have on the economies of Europe, Africa, and the Americas? What cultural disruptions and survivals occurred as a result of the trade? What intellectual constructions permitted the trade? Why did the trade end? These and other related questions will be addressed as we examine a variety of sources: slave ship interiors, slave ship logs, traders' journals, captives' narratives, and various secondary materials. The course is open to first-year and unmoderated students for whom it will be taught as an introductory survey. For moderated students, it may be taken as a major conference for which a long research paper must be prepared. Although the primary focus will be on British North America and its role in the trade, students with interests in the Caribbean, the West Indies, Canada, and European ties to the trade are welcome.

HIST/LAIS 120 Modern Latin America since Independence

Miles Rodriguez

This is an introductory survey of the history of Modern Latin America since Independence. The course traces the process of Independence of the Latin American nations from the Spanish and Portuguese Empires in North and South America in the early nineteenth century, and the long-term, contested, and often violent processes of nation-formation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Primary source and historical texts examine the region’s main challenges in this period, including persistent inequality, regional disintegration, endemic violence, elite political control, revolution, military rule, and civil reconciliation. Major historical issues and debates for study and discussion include the meaning and uses of the idea of “Latin America,” slavery and empire in nineteenth-century Brazil, and the roles of race, religion, women, and indigenous peoples in Latin American societies.

HIST/LAIS 220 Mexican History & Culture

Miles Rodriguez

There is no abstract or timeless Mexican culture. Nor does Mexican history happen independently of its changing cultural contexts. This introductory course explores the complex relationship between culture and history from Mexico’s pre-conquest indigenous origins to the Mexican Revolution and the contemporary nation-state. The course begins with Mexico’s most durable foundational myths, visions, and symbols, such as the image of an eagle grasping a serpent on a cactus on the Mexican flag and the Virgin of Guadalupe. Using primary sources like codices, native language writings, and visual media, as well as anthropological, historical, and literary texts, it traces the major cultural continuities and revolutions to the present. Special topics include race and racial mixture, established and popular religion, women and gender, indigenous cultures, and official versus counter-cultures.

LIT 2002 Americans Abroad

Donna Ford Grover

Post World War I was an exciting time for American artists who chose to come of age and discover their own American-ness from other shores. We will read writers of the so-called ‘ Lost Generation’ including Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald. But in our reexamination of ‘The Lost Generation’ we will also include expatriate writers best known for their participation in the Harlem Renaissance, such as Jean Toomer, Claude McKay and Jessie Fauset. The African-American presence in Europe which included the iconic figure Josephine Baker as well as jazz great Louis Armstrong altered this picture in ways that we are only beginning to appreciate. This course looks at a period in which American culture found roots abroad.

LIT 2140 Domesticity and Power

Donna Ford Grover

Many American women writers of the 19th and 20th centuries used the domestic novel to make insightful critiques of American society and politics. These women who wrote of the home and of marriage and detailed the chatter of the drawing room were not merely recording the trivial events of what was deemed to be their “place.” The course begins with Catherine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s handbook of housekeeping, The American Woman’s Home (1869). We will also read the novels and short stories of Harriet Jacobs, Frances E. W. Harper, Kate Chopin, Nella Larsen, Jessie Fausett, Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and others.

LIT 2169 Richard Wright

Donna Ford Grover

In his book, Black Atlantic (1993), Paul Gilroy urged readers to reexamine Richard Wright and his works within an international context.  In this year of the Richard Wright Centennial it is important to reassess Wright’s work and the influence he had upon others in the mid 20th century.   This course places Wright on a world stage and examines his little known alliances and contributions to philosophy, psychology and world politics.  Some of the aspects of Wright’s life and literature we will study are his interest in and contributions to the psychology of deviance, his friendships with both Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre as well as his involvement in the Pan-African movement.  We will read Black Boy and Native Son as well as his less known works such as his travelogue, Pagan Spain and a posthumously published novel, A Father’s Law.

LIT 2178 Literary Networks and New Writing out of Africa 2000-2008

Binyavanga Wainaina

The movement started in the late 1990s in Cape Town, South Africa, a year after Nelson Mandela's inauguration as president of South Africa.  The possibility of a new kind of society attracted writers, artists, and thinkers, some local, some recently arrived from exile, others from various African countries and diaspora. After over twenty years of some stasis, an explosion of literary activity began on the continent, led by small independent publishing houses. In 2002, the print magazine Chimurenga was founded in Cape Town by the Cameroonian-born writer and intellectual, Ntone Edjabe. In 2003, Kwani magazine was founded in Kenya, and Farafina in Lagos, Nigeria in 2005.   Over the past 8 years, hundreds of new writers have been published.  This class will look at work produced in this period, mostly short fiction, essays, reportage and creative nonfiction, from these magazines and from novels and literary blogs and other media produced between 2002 and 2009. We will do close readings from selected texts and from case-studies of the three megacities that are becoming literary centers: Lagos, Cape Town and Nairobi.  There will be weekly assignments, and a term project.

LIT 2188 New African Writing from the 21st Century: The Contemporary Short Story

Binyavana Wainaina

This class will look at a selection of the most innovative African writers of the short story form in English and in translation. We will focus on writers born after the independence movements in the 1960s, and writers based on the continent and elsewhere. There will be close readings of selected texts by writers like Igoni Barret, Chimamanda Adichie, Waigwa Ndiagui, Iheoma Nwachukwu and others. Students will be expected to do quite a bit of their own background research on each writer, and some understanding of the places they write from or about to give context to the reading of their work. This course is writing intensive. There will be a 15 page term project to submit at the end of term

LIT 2204 World Literature & the CIA

Elizabeth Holt

In 1950, the Central Intelligence Agency clandestinely created the Congress for Cultural Freedom, administered from London with its main offices in Paris, in order to foster what it deemed the "Non-Communist Left" through a global network of conferences, concerts, exhibitions, and influential literary magazines. Covertly disseminating a Cold War cultural politics and aesthetics that sought to untether literature from politics, the Congress underwrote a world literary canon that the world literature anthology and classroom inherits and keeps in circulation (including authors such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Tayyeb Salih, James Baldwin, Pablo Neruda, Yusuf Idris, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, and William Faulkner) .  In this course, we will read selected poetry, short stories, novels, and essays published in the Congress's journals between 1950 and its scandalous collapse in 1967, looking in particular at the London-based Encounter, the Beirut-based Hiwar, the Latin American Mundo Nuevo, Uganda's Transition, as well as histories of the Congress, and reports the Rand Corporation has recently prepared for the United States Department of Defense, as we consider the legacy of this global intelligence plot to use literature in the furtherance of empire.

LIT 2212 Writing Africa

Binyavanga Wainaina

To travel, through texts, written and read, to a distant continent - Africa - which also happens to be right here, on Facebook and Youtube. To write a collection that the class will publish online. A collection written and edited by the students. Travel Writing about Africa. We will do much reading: old and new texts. Texts that go therewent there, came home to "talk about it"; texts that create(d) a place, nonfictions full of strange fictions; many many books about many dark unknowable peoples, doing dark unknowable things... This is a Travel Writing Class. And it is about Africa. Where we may or may not have been. We will do readings (mostly close readings) of various texts, including Kojo Laing's novel Search Sweet Country; David Kaiza's Benediction in Oyugis; selected stories from Norman Rush's collection of short stories, Whites; Aminata Forna's The Devil that Danced on Water; Amadou Kourouma's Waiting for the Wild Beasts to VoteThe Life and Times of Richard Onyango, by Richard Onyango; Ed Pavlic's But Here are the Small Clear RefractionsAnother Day of Life by Ryszard Kapuściński; The Emperor : Downfall of an Autocratby Ryszard Kapuściński; Nina Bawden's Under the Skin; Noni Jabavu's Drawn in Colour; Seffi Atta's Everything Good Will Come;various essays; films; blogs; travelblogs and online chat groups.

LIT 2601 American Literature 1945-2012

Elizabeth Frank

In the wake of World War II, the United States emerged as the world’s dominant military, economic, and cultural power. That power, diffused into the lives of individual Americans by technological, political, and social change, simultaneously deepened a sense of powerlessness for some and fulfilled hopes and expectations for others: if you imaginatively identified with the nation and its privileged symbols—for example, whiteness, masculinity, weaponry, and material plenty—would  you experience the promised sense of centrality and significance seemingly mandated by our military triumph, our wealth, our extraordinary global prestige, and our historical sense of providential destiny? Or  would you experience, or even be aware of, America’s failure to deliver on its promises? In this course, we will be looking at the ways in which American literature imagined and represented what it was like to live American lives between August 6, 1945, and September 11, 2001, the day when American verities and pieties underwent a sudden reckoning. We will begin by asking ourselves and our writers the same question with which R.W. Emerson opens his great essay, "Experience": "Where do we find ourselves?" and go on to examine works by mid-to late twentieth-century and contemporary writers of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry. Moreover we shall do so through explicit reference to traditions and problems bequeathed to us by American writing from the seventeenth-century on.  Can we still see ourselves as the "City on a Hill"? What has happened to the democratic faith of Emerson and Whitman?  Do we possess a "usable past"?  Is ours a society marked by "quiet desperation"? Readings vary each time the course is given; authors may include but are not necessarily confined to Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, Tennessee Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Roth, Joan Didion, Toni Morrison and others.

LIT 2670 Women Writing the Caribbean

Donna Ford Grover

The “creolized” culture of the Caribbean has been a hotbed of women’s writing from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. Claudia Mitchell-Kernan describes creolization as “nowhere purely African, but … a mosaic of African, European, and indigenous responses to a truly novel reality.” This course is concerned with how women, through fiction, interpreted that reality. While confronting the often explosive politics of post-colonial island life and at the same time navigating the presence of French, English, and African influence, women saw their role as deeply conflicted. We will begin with The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave, Related by Herself (1831) and Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857). Other writers will include Martha Gelhorn, Jean Rhys, Phyllis Shand Allfrey, Jamaica Kincaid, Michelle Cliff, and Edwidge Danticat. 

LIT 3208 Faulkner: Race, Text, and Southern History

Donna Ford Grover

One of America’s greatest novelists, William Faulkner was deeply rooted in the American South. Unlike other writers of his generation who viewed America from distant shores, Faulkner remained at home and explored his own region. From this intensely intimate vantage point, he was able to portray the south and all of its glory and shame. Within Faulkner’s narratives slavery and its aftermath remain the disaster at the heart of American history. In this course we will read Faulkner’s major novels, poetry, short stories as well as film scripts. We will also read biographical material and examine the breath of current Faulkner literary criticism.

LIT 3226 A Pan Africa is Possible: Ten Years of Chimurenga Magazine's Revolutionary Aesthetic

Binyavana Wainaina

Pan-Africani sm is a political movement that seeks to unify African people or people living in Africa. In December 2011, The Prince Claus Foundation awarded Chimurenga its grand prize for "challenging established ideas and stimulating pan African culture with an unwavering commitment to intellectual autonomy, diversity and freedom." This class will examine ten years of Chimurenga Magazine’s revolutionary aesthetic. This class will focus on a close reading of the whole editions and selected extracts from 16 issues of Cape Town based Chimurenga magazine dating back to 2002 when the magazine was founded. We will also examine various Chimurenga and Chinu related media: video, audio, music and blogs used as part of the online magazine. This 200 level course will also serve as an introduction to contemporary African writing since the late 1990s.Through these readings, we will discover the political, social and aesthetic world Chimurenga has proposed for a new generation of cosmopolitan Africans on the continent and around the world. Though set in South Africa, and fully immersed in Cape Town, Chimurenga’s bold vision has managed present a pungent and dynamic aesthetic that has influenced African artists and intellectuals all over the world.

LIT 3902 The Mask and Its Metaphors

Donna Ford Grover

The push in America to “make it new” meant a break with the past, with convention.  For many writers, this break was facilitated by the use of an “Other.”  For instance, critic Michael North argues that in the work of Gertrude Stein and Picassso “the step away from conventional verisimilitude into abstraction is accomplished by a figurative change of race.”  With Stein this meant the use of the African-American voice and with Picasso his African masks.  The mask as both a literal and figurative device runs through modern literary works.  In this course we will examine how this looking at oneself through a mask impacts modernist narratives and how the mask subverts conventional definitions of race and gender.  We will read Stein’s Three Lives, Sinclair Lewis’s Kingsblood Royal, Richard Wright’s Savage Holiday, Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks, Freud’s Totem and Taboo, among others and some literary theory and criticism.

MUS 108N Contemporary Jazz Composers

Erica Lindsay

This class will involve the interpretation of contemporary composer’s works, ranging from sextet to big band.  This will be an advanced class restricted to instrumentalists (and vocalists) who have the necessary reading, technical, and interpretive skills to perform demanding music.  There will be a featured composer who will visit as a guest artist and perform in concert with the ensemble each semester.  Pieces written by student composers involved in the jazz composition classes will also be performed.  Class size will vary according to the amount of qualified instrumentalists and the instrumentation requirements of the featured composer.  Interested students are encouraged to sign up at registration, although confirmation of participation will only be given after auditions are held. Auditions will be conducted during the first scheduled class meeting.

MUS 171 Jazz Harmony I

John Esposito 

This course will include acquisitions of the basic skills that make up the foundation of all Jazz styles. We will also study the Jazz language from ragtime to the swing era. This course fulfills a music theory requirement for music majors.   

MUS 211 Jazz in Literature I

Thurman Barker

This course presents some of the short stories and poems by Rudolph Fisher, Langston Hughes, Ann Petry, and Julio Cortazar. The text used in this section is ‘Hot and Cool’ by Marcela Briton and the ‘Harlem Renaissance Reader’, edited by David Lewis.

MUS 212 Jazz Literature II

Thurman Barker

We will study the words of Gary Gidden “Visions in Jazz” and Robert Gottlieb from his book entitled “Reading Jazz” in order to bring attention to some important literature on Jazz. Some of the writers look beyond Jazz as an art form, but also bring attention to the historical influence on culture, race, tradition and our social experience.  Writers like Albert Murry, Ralph Ellison, Eudora Welty. There is an attempt in their works to illuminate the significance of the musical potential the musicians inherit and the creative option they exercise.  This course includes the words of many who have been hailed as Jazz Greatest Musicians.

MUS 331 Jazz: The Freedom Principle

Thurman Barker

A jazz study of the cross-pollination between Post-Bop in the late fifties and Free Jazz. The course, which employs a cultural approach, is also designed to look at the social climate surrounding the music to examine its effects on the music from 1958 to the mid-sixties. Emphasis will be on artists and composers such as Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Max Roach, Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus, and Horace Silver. Illustrated with recordings, films, and videos.

MUS WKSHF Samba School

Carlos Valdez

Samba School provides the opportunity to learn exotic Brazilian rhythms (samba, maracatu, batucada, samba reggae).  All skill levels welcome.

PHIL 104 Introduction to Philosophy from a Multicultural Perspective

Daniel Berthold

This course is an introduction to such major themes in the history of philosophy as the nature of reality and our capacity to know it; issues of ethics and justice; and conceptions of how one should live.  Readings will include selections from a diverse range of traditions, including Western, Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese, African, Native American, and feminist texts.

SOC 120 Inequality in America

Yuval Elmelech

Why do some people have more wealth, more power, and receive greater respect than others? What are the sources of this inequality? Is social inequality inevitable? Is it undesirable? Through lectures, documentary films and discussions, this course examines the ways by which socially-defined categories of persons (e.g., women and men, Blacks and Whites, rich and poor, native- and foreign-born) are unevenly rewarded for their social contributions. Sociological theories are used to explain how and why social inequality is produced and maintained, and how it affects the well being of individuals and social groups. The course will focus on two general themes. The first deals with the structure of inequality while studying the unequal distribution of material and social resources (e.g., prestige, income, occupation). The second examines the processes that determine the allocation of people to positions in the stratification system (e.g. education, intelligence, parental wealth, gender, race).