African American Studies (AFAM)

* AFAM 016a / AFST 015a / ENGL 015a, South African Writing after ApartheidStephanie Newell

An introduction to creative writing published in South Africa from the end of Apartheid in 1994 to the present. Close readings of contemporary fiction with additional material drawn from popular culture, including films, magazines, and music. Enrollment limited to first-year students.  WR, HU
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

* AFAM 017a / ENGL 006a, Black Nature: African American Nature WritingJonathan Howard

What stories do we tell about nature? How are the stories we are able to tell about nature informed by race? And how do these stories shape our understanding of what it means to be human? In contrast to a largely white tradition of nature writing that assumes a superior position outside of Nature, this course undertakes a broad survey of African American nature writing. Over the course of the semester, we read broadly across several genres of African American literature, including: slave narrative, fiction, poetry, drama and memoir. In this way, we center the unique environmental perspectives of those, who, once considered no more than livestock, were the nature over which their white masters ruled. Indeed, as those who were drowned in the ocean during the trans-Atlantic slave trade, forced to cultivate the soil on slave plantations, and hung from trees across the Jim Crow South, black Americans are bound up and entangled in nature in incredibly complex and precarious ways. Perhaps for this very reason, however, we may ultimately come to find in these black nature stories the resources for reclaiming a proper relationship to the Earth, and for imagining a sustainable human life in nature, rather than apart from it. Enrollment limited to first-year students.  HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

AFAM 115a / WGSS 125a, “We Interrupt this Program: The Multidimensional Histories of Queer and Trans Politics”Staff

In 1991, the arts organizations Visual AIDS and The Kitchen collaborated with video artist and filmmaker Charles Atlas to produce the live television broadcast "We Interrupt this Program." Part educational presentation, part performance piece, the show was aired in millions of homes across the nation. The program, in The Kitchen’s words, “sought to feature voices that had often been marginalized within many discussions of AIDS, in particular people of color and women.”This course builds upon and is inspired by this aspect of Atlas's visionary presentation, an aspect that used the show to produce a critically multicultural platform that could activate cultural histories and critical traditions from various communities. In effect, the course uses this aspect as a metonym for the racial, gender, sexual, and class heterogeneity of queer art and organizing. It conducts its investigation by looking at a variety of primary materials that illustrate the heterogeneous makeup of queer and trans politics. The course also draws on more recent texts and visual works that arose from the earlier contexts that the primary texts helped to illuminate and shape.   HURP0 Course cr

AFAM 117a / AMST 207a / MUSI 156a / WGSS 117a, Beyonce Makes History: Black Radical Tradition History, Culture, Theory & Politics through MusicStaff

This class centers the 2010s and 2020s’ sonic and visual repertoire of Beyonce Knowles-Carter (from 2013’s self-titled album through 2024’s Cowboy Carter) as the portal through which to rigorously examine key interdisciplinary works of Black intellectual thought and grassroots activist practices across the centuries. Its aim is two-fold: to both explore and analyze the dense, robust and virtuosic aesthetics, socio-historical and political dimensions of Beyonce’s pathbreaking, mid-career body of work and to, likewise, use her aesthetics; the multi-dimensional form and content of her recordings; her boundary-transgressing performance politics; her history-making visual albums; her innovative concert films; her unprecedented pop music archival endeavors and more as the occasion to explore landmark Black Studies scholarship and Black freedom struggle scholarly and cultural texts (in history, Black feminist theory, philosophy, anthropology, art history, performance studies, musicology, political science, sociology, dance, American Studies, religious studies, archival studies etc.) that directly resonate with Beyonce’s sonic, visual and live performance endeavors. In short, this is a class that traces the relationship between Beyonce’s artistic genius and Black intellectual practice.  HU0 Course cr

AFAM 146b / ECON 171b / EDST 271b, Urban Inequalities and Educational InequalityGerald Jaynes

Analysis of contemporary policy problems related to academic under performance in lower income urban schools and the concomitant achievement gaps among various racial and ethnic groups in United States K-12 education. Historical review of opportunity inequalities and policy solutions proposed to ameliorate differences in achievement and job readiness. Students benefit from practical experience and interdisciplinary methods, including a lab component with time spent in a New Haven high school.  Prerequisites: Any course offered by Education Studies, or one course in history or any social science, either: Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology.  EDST 110 is preferred, although not required.  SO
TTh 10:30am-11:20am

AFAM 160a / AFST 184a / AMST 160a / HIST 184a, History of Atlantic SlaveryStaff

The history of peoples of African descent throughout the Americas, from the first African American societies of the sixteenth century through the century-long process of emancipation.  HU0 Course cr

* AFAM 177b / EP&E 248b / PLSC 256b, American Political InstitutionsMichael Fotos

The origins and development of American political institutions, especially in relation to constitutional choice and the agency of persons seeking freedom, equality, and self-governing capabilities as a driver of constitutional change. Key concepts include: American federalism, compound republic, citizenship, social movements, racial justice, and nonviolence.  WR, SO

* AFAM 182a / AMST 286a / ENGL 182a / HUMS 241a, James Baldwin's American SceneStaff

In-depth examination of James Baldwin's canon, tracking his work as an American artist, citizen, and witness to United States society, politics, and culture during the Cold War, the Civil Rights era, and the Black Arts Movement.  HU0 Course cr

AFAM 186a / LAST 214a / PLSC 378a / SOCY 170a, Contesting InjusticeStaff

Exploration of why, when, and how people organize collectively to challenge political, social, and economic injustice. Cross-national comparison of the extent, causes, and consequences of inequality. Analysis of mobilizations for social justice in both U.S. and international settings. Intended primarily for first years and sophomores.  SO0 Course cr

* AFAM 216a / FILM 433a, Family Narratives/Cultural ShiftsThomas Harris

This course looks at films that are redefining ideas around family and family narratives in relation to larger social movements. We focus on personal films by filmmakers who consider themselves artists, activists, or agents of change but are united in their use of the nonfiction format to speak truth to power. In different ways, these films use media to build community and build family and ultimately, to build family albums and archives that future generations can use to build their own practices. Just as the family album seeks to unite people across time, space, and difference, the films and texts explored in this course are also journeys that culminate in linkages, helping us understand nuances of identity while illuminating personal relationships to larger cultural, social, and historical movements.  HU
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

* AFAM 220b / FILM 434b, Archive Aesthetics and Community StorytellingThomas Harris

This production course explores strategies of archive aesthetics and community storytelling in film and media. It allows students to create projects that draw from archives—including news sources, personal narratives, and found archives—to produce collaborative community storytelling. Conducted as a production workshop, the course explores the use of archives in constructing real and fictive narratives across a variety of disciplines, such as—participants create and develop autobiographies, biographies, or fiction-based projects, tailored to their own work in film/new media around Natalie Goldberg’s concept that “our lives are at once ordinary and mythical.”  HU

* AFAM 239b / AMST 461b / EDST 209b / ER&M 292b / WGSS 202b, Identity, Diversity, and Policy in U.S. EducationCraig Canfield

Introduction to critical theory (feminism, queer theory, critical race theory, disability studies, trans studies, indigenous studies) as a fundamental tool for understanding and critiquing identity, diversity, and policy in U.S. education. Exploration of identity politics and theory, as they figure in education policy. Methods for applying theory and interventions to interrogate issues in education. Application of theory and interventions to policy creation and reform.  WR, HU
M 3:30pm-5:20pm

* AFAM 244a / PLSC 200a, The Politics of Crime and Punishment in American CitiesAllison Harris

This course explores the relationship between politics and crime and punishment. We review literature focused on political behavior and political institutions to better understand the phenomena we hear about in the news from sentencing algorithms, to felon (dis)enfranchisement, to stop-and-frisk, and police use of force.  SO
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AFAM 253a / MUSI 381a, Jazz in Transition, 1960–2000Michael Veal

A survey of musicians, stylistic currents, and critical issues relevant to the evolution of jazz between 1960 and 2000. Topics include Third Stream, free jazz, jazz-rock fusion, the influence of world music, neo-classicism, jazz and hip-hop, and others.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

* AFAM 261a / AMST 263a / EDST 263a, Place, Race, and Memory in SchoolsErrol Saunders

As places, schools both shape and are profoundly shaped by the built environment and the breathed, braved, and believed everyday experiences of the people that interact with them. That everyday environment is just as grounded in the past as it is in the present. Teachers, administrators, students, and parents are impacted by the racialized narratives about the past that groups and individuals take up to explain the bygone, justify the present, and to move them to action for the future. These individual and collective memories of who and where they are, and the traumas, successes, failures, and accomplishments that they have with regard to school and education are essential to understanding how schools and school reforms work.  Given the weight that narratives of social mobility in the United States place upon education, there is profound interest in the roles that schools play in perpetuating racial disparities in American society and the opportunities that education writ large might provide for remedying them. Grounded in four different geographies, this course examines how the interrelationships of place, race, and memory are implicated in reforms of preK-12 schools in the United States. The course uses an interdisciplinary approach to study these phenomena, borrowing from commensurate frameworks in sociology, anthropology, political science, and memory studies with the goal of examining multiple angles and perspectives on a given issue. EDST 110 recommended.  SO
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

* AFAM 277a / AFST 484a / MUSI 485a, Musical Pan-AfricanismsMichael Veal

This seminar surveys the musical conversation that has circulated around the “Black Atlantic” cultural sphere (sub-Saharan Africa, Afro-America, the Afro-Caribbean, and Latin America) for most of the twentieth century, facilitated by the advent of sound recording and broadcast technologies at the beginning of the twentieth century, and articulated through discourses of black cultural connection and concrete histories of trans-Atlantic encounter. Many –though not all– of the readings focus on the decades immediately following World War II, when “Pan-Africanism” was an explicit and prominent political discourse. Others address earlier or later examples when the idea of cross-cultural connection was more implicit but equally influential. We trace the unfolding of this conversation through a variety of sources: scholarly, personal (i.e. biographies/autobiographies), journalistic, and, of course, sonic.  WR, HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AFAM 305a / ENGL 258a, African American AutobiographySarah Mahurin

Examination of African American autobiography, from slave narratives to contemporary memoirs, and how the genre approaches the project (and problem) of knowing, through reading, the relationships of fellow humans. Chronological consideration of a range of narratives and their representations of race, of space, of migration, of violence, of self, and of other, as well as the historical circumstances that inform these representations. Prerequisite: one college-level literature course.  HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

* AFAM 313a / THST 319a, Embodying StoryRenee Robinson

The intersection of storytelling and movement as seen through historical case studies, cross-disciplinary inquiry, and studio practice. Drawing on eclectic source materials from different artistic disciplines, ranging from the repertory of Alvin Ailey to journalism, architectural studies, cartoon animation, and creative processes, students develop the critical, creative, and technical skills through which to tell their own stories in movement. No prior dance experience necessary. Limited Enrollment. See Canvas for application.  HU
MW 10:30am-12:20pm

* AFAM 315a / WGSS 305a, Black Feminist TheoryGail Lewis

This course is designed to introduce you to some of the major themes in black feminist theory. The course does so by presenting classic texts with more recent ones to give you a sense of the vibrancy of black feminist theory for addressing past and present concerns. Rather than interpret black feminist theory as a critical formation that simply puts race, gender, sexuality, and class into conversation with one another, the course apprehends that formation as one that produced epistemic shifts in how we understand politics, empire, history, the law, and literature. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the areas into which black feminism intervened. It is merely a sample of some of the most vibrant ideological and discursive contexts in which black feminism caused certain epistemic transformations.    SO
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

* AFAM 322b / ENGL 2822b, Coming of Age in Black LiteratureSarah Mahurin

Phillip Atiba Goff’s 2014 study “The Essence of Innocence” confirmed that Black children are widely perceived as older than they actually are, and are presumed to be less innocent than their white classmates–often with devastating consequences. This course aims to challenge the “systematic adultification” so prevalent in American (mis)understandings of Black youth by centering narratives of Black childhood across literary genres. How do these texts disrupt conventional approaches to the bildungsroman, and what can these writers teach us about coming of age in America? Previously ENGL 360.  HU
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AFAM 326b / AMST 312b / ER&M 310b / WGSS 298b, Postcolonial Cities of the WestFadila Habchi

Examination of various texts and films pertaining to the representation of postcolonial cities in the global north and a range of social, political, and cultural issues that concern those who inhabit these spaces.   HU
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

* AFAM 329a / SOCY 342a, Managing Blackness in a "White Space"Elijah Anderson

White space” is a perceptual category that assumes a particular space to be predominantly white, one where black people are typically unexpected, marginalized when present, and made to feel unwelcome—a space that blacks perceive to be informally “off-limits” to people like them and where on occasion they encounter racialized disrespect and other forms of resistance. This course explores the challenge black people face when managing their lives in this white space.  SO
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AFAM 342a / ENGL 239a / THST 239a, African American Drama through 1959Shane Vogel

This course surveys the formal development and major themes of African American drama from the antebellum period through 1959. We examine how dramatists and performers reimagined the various meanings of Blackness in the U.S. public sphere, as well as individual and collective acts of self-fashioning on and off the stage. Special attention is given to aesthetic experimentation and its relationship to political theater; transformations of genre and form; Black dramatic theory; historical drama; diasporic connections and disconnections; the relationship between music, dance, spectacle, and drama; anti-lynching drama and folk drama; representations of class, gender, and sexuality; inter- and intra-racial conflict; Black radical theatre in the New Deal; and institutional histories of key Black theatre companies.  HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

* AFAM 345a / AFST 363a / ER&M 252a / SPAN 360a, Our Guinea: Locating Africa in Early Iberian ArchivesAlexandra Cook

African coastlines were the first horizons of Iberian imperial expansion into the Atlantic, and eventually, the world.  While the worlds made by Africans displaced by the slave trade and their descendants have received extensive attention in recent years,  Africa itself rarely enters the frame. The histories that unfolded on the continent in many ways challenge our understandings of Spanish and Portuguese expansion and colonialism, shaped as they are by the “New World” paradigm of conquest and conversion.  Were African societies part of the “New World” or the “Old World”? In this course we study an often-overlooked domain of Spanish and Portuguese imperialism and commerce from an approach that includes but does not limit itself to the study of slavery and enslaved Africans in the Americas.  We read a selection of  primary texts from the early modern Ibero-African archive, with a focus on texts produced about the African continent and Africans (and when possible, by Africans) in Spanish, and to a lesser extent Portuguese, seeking (1) to challenge existing narratives and frameworks for the study of precolonial Africa, but also (2) to see what kinds of African worlds appear when we set aside our assumptions and generalizations.  L5, HU
MW 4pm-5:15pm

* AFAM 349b / AMST 326b / HIST 115Jb / WGSS 388b, Civil Rights and Women's LiberationCrystal Feimster

The dynamic relationship between the civil rights movement and the women's liberation movement from 1940 to the present. When and how the two movements overlapped, intersected, and diverged. The variety of ways in which African Americans and women campaigned for equal rights. Topics include World War II, freedom summer, black power, the Equal Rights Amendment, feminism, abortion, affirmative action, and gay rights.  HU

* AFAM 352a / AMST 438a / ER&M 291a / LITR 295a / WGSS 343a, Caribbean Diasporic LiteratureFadila Habchi

An examination of contemporary literature written by Caribbean writers who have migrated to, or who journey between, different countries around the Atlantic rim. Focus on literature written in English in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, both fiction and nonfiction. Writers include Caryl Phillips, Nalo Hopkinson, and Jamaica Kincaid.  HU
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

* AFAM 354a / ENGL 351a / HUMS 370a, Fictions of the Harlem Vogue: Novels, Short Stories, and Novellas of the “Harlem Renaissance”Ernest Mitchell

In this seminar, we examine the major novels, short stories, and novellas of the Harlem Vogue (1923-1934), the first decade of the Negro Renaissance. Key texts by Jessie Fauset, Nella Larsen, Jean Toomer, and Eric Walrond are central, along with lesser-known works by Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes. We consider critical debates about these texts and their standard designation as part of the “Harlem Renaissance.” Careful close reading is emphasized throughout; students are guided through a process of archival research and sustained formal analysis to produce a polished critical essay.  WR, HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AFAM 362b / ER&M 272b / FREN 262b / GLBL 272b / HIST 223b, Black FranceMarlene Daut

This course offers an in-depth exploration of the complex history of Black France, tracing its roots from the era of French colonization in the Caribbean and the transatlantic slave trade to its contemporary manifestations across France and its overseas territories. Beginning with an examination of French colonialism in the Caribbean, particularly focusing on the brutal system of slavery and the development of the Code Noir under the reign of Louis XIV, students gain a comprehensive understanding of the origins of race-thinking in France. Students also read about the pivotal role of French colonies like Saint-Domingue, Martinique, and Guadéloupe in the resistance against slavery, highlighting the Haitian Revolution as a watershed moment in the struggle for freedom and self-determination. Through the lens of this historic event, students analyze the complexities of slave rebellion, the quest for abolition, and the enduring legacy of resistance in Black (francophone) communities. By highlighting the socio-political relationship of the colonial and revolutionary era to the present, students explore the interconnectedness of slavery, colonialism, and power dynamics within the French empire and the enduring impact of this tumultuous history on contemporary conceptions of Blackness in France. Using an interdisciplinary approach that encompasses history, sociology, literary, and cultural studies, students analyze the formation of Black identity, racial ideologies, and the ongoing struggle for recognition and equality within French society.  WR, HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AFAM 364a / ENGL 277a, Blackness and the ProblemJonathan Howard

In The Souls of Black Folk (1903), W.E.B. Du Bois famously theorizes blackness as a serial confrontation with a fundamental question: “How does it feel to be a problem?” This question is in many ways the organizing query of black studies and the devoted preoccupation of this class. Over the course of the semester, we undertake a sustained interrogation of the “problem” of being black, from the advent of racial slavery through to its manifold afterlives. Reading widely across a black literary and intellectual tradition spanning multiple centuries, genres, and disciplines, we explore how black writers not only bear witness to the evolution of the problem of being black over time, but also imagine its redress. Furthermore, we explore how blackness has been conceived as a problem not merely in the conventional sense of an unwelcome condition to be solved or overcome, but also a full and ethical way of dwelling in the world.  HU
MW 2:30pm-3:45pm

* AFAM 371a / AFST 377a / FREN 370a, Caribbean Poetry in FrenchThomas Connolly

An introduction to Caribbean poetry in French from the turn of the twentieth century to the present day. Topics covered will include literary, social, and political movements including surrealism, colonization, decolonization, immigration, the relation of French to other languages of the Caribbean including Créole, Spanish, and English, and points of contact between poetry, music, theater, and the visual arts. Students will learn how to read, comment on, and write about poetry. Primary authors will include Étienne Léro, Aimé Césaire, Saint-John Perse, Magloire-Saint-Aude, Édouard Glissant, René Depestre, Davertige, Jean Métellus, Raphaël Confiant, Suzanne Dracius, and Patrick Chamoiseau. Readings, assignments, and discussions in French. Ability to read, write, and discuss in French.
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AFAM 375a / AMST 465a / FREN 365a / HIST 378a / LITR 377a, Haiti in the Age of RevolutionsMarlene Daut

The Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) was an event of monumental world-historical significance. This class studies the collection of slave revolts and military strikes beginning in August of 1791 that resulted in the eventual abolition of slavery in the French colony of Saint-Domingue and its subsequent independence and rebirth in January of 1804 as Haiti, the first independent and slavery-free nation of the American hemisphere. Considering Haiti's war of independence in the broader context of the Age of Revolutions, we cover topics such as enlightenment thought, natural history, the workings and politics of the printing press, and representations of the Haitian Revolution in art, literature, music, and in various kinds of historical writings and archival documents. Students develop an understanding of the relevant scholarship on the Haitian Revolution as they consider the relationship of this important event to the way it was written about both as it unfolded and in its long wake leading up to the present day.  WR, HU
W 9:25am-11:15am

* AFAM 382a / AMST 482a / ENGL 273a / FREN 382a / LITR 424a, Zombies, Witches, Gods, and Spirits in Caribbean LiteratureMarlene Daut

This course delves into the rich tapestry of Caribbean literature through the lens of the seemingly supernatural, such as zombies, witches, gods, and spirits. Throughout the semester, students critically analyze a diverse range of texts by authors as varied as Edwidge Danticat, René Depestre, Derek Walcott, Alejo Carpentier, Jean Rhys, and Aimé Césaire, and others, to explore how Caribbean authors have employed other worldly elements as powerful metaphors for colonialism and resistance, trauma and cultural memory.
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AFAM 457a / AFST 457a / AMST 470a / ER&M 467a / FREN 481a, Racial Republic: African Diasporic Literature and Culture in Postcolonial FranceFadila Habchi

This is an interdisciplinary seminar on French cultural history from the 1930s to the present. We focus on issues concerning race and gender in the context of colonialism, postcolonialism, and migration. The course investigates how the silencing of colonial history has been made possible culturally and ideologically, and how this silencing has in turn been central to the reorganizing of French culture and society from the period of decolonization to the present. We ask how racial regimes and spaces have been constructed in French colonial discourses and how these constructions have evolved in postcolonial France. We examine postcolonial African diasporic literary writings, films, and other cultural productions that have explored the complex relations between race, colonialism, historical silences, republican universalism, and color-blindness. Topics include the 1931 Colonial Exposition, Black Paris, decolonization, universalism, the Trente Glorieuses, the Paris massacre of 1961, anti-racist movements, the "beur" author, memory, the 2005 riots, and contemporary afro-feminist and decolonial movements.  HU
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AFAM 480a, Senior Colloquium: African American StudiesElizabeth Hinton

A seminar on issues and approaches in African American studies. The colloquium offers students practical help in refining their senior essay topics and developing research strategies. Students discuss assigned readings and share their research experiences and findings. During the term, students are expected to make substantial progress on their senior essays; they are required to submit a prospectus, an annotated bibliography, and a draft of one-quarter of the essay.
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AFAM 491a, The Senior EssayElizabeth Hinton

Independent research on the senior essay. The senior essay form must be submitted to the director of undergraduate studies by the end of the second week of classes. The senior essay should be completed according to the following schedule: (1) end of the sixth week of classes: a rough draft of the entire essay; (2) end of the last week of classes (fall term) or three weeks before the end of classes (spring term): two copies of the final version of the essay.