Location: Bowdoin / Africana Studies / Courses / Spring 2009

Africana Studies

Spring 2009

020. African American Children's Literature
Elizabeth Muther T 1:00 - 2:25, TH 1:00 - 2:25
Beginning with W. E. B. Du Bois's serial magazine of the 1920s, The Brownies' Book, explores a century of African American literature for and about children. Examines the strong tradition of child-narrated fiction for teens and adults from the 1960s and 70s by such writers as Ernest Gaines, Toni Morrison, Toni Cade Bambara, Louise Meriwether, and Ann Petry. Considers the emergence of a conscious Black Arts aesthetic in children's literature and its relationship to the flowering of muilticultural children's literature in recent decades. Explores prize-winning fiction and graphic narratives for middle readers and adolescents as well as the collaborations of writers and artists in the contemporary "golden age" of African American picture books.

108. Introduction to Black Women's Literature
Guy Foster T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
Examines the twin themes of love and sex as they relate to poems, stories, novels, and plays written by African American women from the nineteenth century to the contemporary era. Explores such issues as Reconstruction, the Great Migration, motherhood, sexism, group loyalty, racial authenticity, intra- and interracial desire, homosexuality, the intertextual unfolding of a literary tradition of black female writing, and how these writings relate to canonical African American male-authored texts and European American literary traditions. Students are expected to read texts closely, critically, and appreciatively. Possible authors: Harriet Jacobs, Frances Harper, Nella Larsen, Jessie Faucet, Ann Petry, Ntozake Shange, Suzan-Lori Parks, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Gayle Jones, Jamaica Kincaid, Terry McMillan, Sapphire, Lizzette Carter.

203. Christianity and Islam in West Africa
Olufemi Vaughan T 1:00 - 3:55
Seminar. Explores how Christianity, Islam, and indigenous religious beliefs shaped the formation of modern West African states and societies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Discusses the role of these world and indigenous religious institutions and movements in the transformation of major West African societies in the following important historical themes: (1) religion and state formation in the turbulent nineteenth century; (2) religion and colonialism; (3) religion and decolonization; (4) religion and the post-colonial state; (5) religion and politics in the era of globalization.

212. Topics in Jazz History: Charles Mingus and Nina Simone
James McCalla T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
The careers of composer/leader/bassist Charles Mingus (1922-1979) and singer/pianist Nina Simone (1933-2003) reflected similar concerns – the multifarious varieties of black music, the use of black musics as statements of racial pride, the openness toward many musical genres in their own work, the constant explorations, and not least the intense involvement in civil rights and their own explosive temperaments. At the same time, these two major artists were very different in their individual styles and in their life experiences. This course will study the output of both Mingus and Simone in their relationship to jazz history and other musical genres, and in the context of the social movements of their time. Biographical and autobiographical readings as well as some secondary literature will complement the critical musical analysis.

217. Overcoming Racism
H. Partridge T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
Explores and critiques a variety of proposed solutions for healing racism in the United States. A working definition of racism is developed through a careful examination of the social structures that support the continuance of racism and discrimination based on race in the United States. The dominant/subordinate relationships of European Americans with African Americans, Latino/a Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans are reviewed.

227. Transnational Race and Ethnicity
Dhiraj Murthy W 1:00 - 3:55
Examines globally mediated formations of ethnic and racial identities, including the ways in which transnational communities are shaped through contact with “homelands” (physically and virtually) and vice versa. Particular attention given to “Black” and “South Asian” diasporic communities based in London and the transnational cultural networks in Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, and the Caribbean that they help maintain. Readings include works by Paul Gilroy, Arjun Appadurai, Les Back, Stuart Hall, Jayne Ifekwunigwe, Ian Ang, and the Delhi-based sarai school.

234. Transatlantic Crossings
Terri Nickel T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Traces the circulation of narratives at the height of Britain’s colonial power in the Americas. Situates such literary commerce alongside the larger exchange of people and goods and focuses on the fluctuating nature of national, racial, and sexual identities in the circum-Atlantic world. Explores how literary texts attempted, and often failed, to sustain “Englishness” in the face of separation, revolution, or insurrection. Of special interest are figures who move across the Atlantic divide and exploit the possibility of multiple roles—sailors, pirates, freed or escaped slaves, female soldiers. Texts may include General History of the Pirates; The Woman of Colour; Moll Flanders; The History of Emily Montague; Obi, or the History of Three-Fingered Jack; The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; the Journals of Janet Schaw; The History of Mary Prince; The Female American.

237. The History of African Americans from 1865 to the Present
Patrick Rael T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
Explores the history of African Americans from the end of the Civil War to the present. Issues include the promises and failures of Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era, black leadership and protest institutions, African American cultural styles, industrialization and urbanization, the world wars, the Civil Rights Movement, and conservative retrenchment.

241. The Civil Rights Movement
Daniel Levine T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
The first part of the course will concentrate on studying the converging forces from the 1890s to the 1950s that combined to create the vastly increased activity toward racial justice in the 1950s and 1960s. The second part will concentrate on the tactics, uncertainties, and, ultimately, the significant but incomplete victories of the 1960s. The third part will concentrate on what has been called the “retreat to the ghetto,” and an evaluation of where we are now.

249. African Philosophy
Sarah Conly M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
Examines contemporary work in this diverse and exciting area. African philosophers raise many questions: Given the variety of African cultures, is there a distinctive outlook African philosophers share, and if so, what is it? How should academic philosophers regard indigenous philosophy? Are their distinctive African concepts of beauty, truth, and the good life? What “counts” as African? Examines these and other ethical, aesthetic, and metaphysical questions.

256. African Archaeology: The Roots of Humanity
Scott MacEachern M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
Examines the prehistory of Africa since the appearance of modern humans on that continent about 100,000 years ago. Particular attention paid to changes in African economies and social systems through time. Some of the topics covered include the cultural development of modern humans in Africa; the beginnings of agriculture in different parts of the continent; state formation processes in sub-Saharan Africa; and the coordination of ethnographic, linguistic, and archaeological data in research.

264. Conquest, Colonialism, and Independence: Africa since 1880
Olufemi Vaughan M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
Focuses on conquest, colonialism, and its legacies in sub-Saharan Africa; the violent process of colonial pacification, examined from European and African perspectives; the different ways of consolidating colonial rule and African resistance to colonial rule, from Maji Maji to Mau Mau; and African nationalism and independence, as experienced by Africa’s nationalist leaders, from Kwame Nkrumah to Jomo Kenyatta, and their critics. Concludes with the limits of independence, mass disenchantment, the rise of the predatory post-colonial state, genocide in the Great Lakes, and the wars of Central Africa.

270. African American Fiction: Short Stories
Elizabeth Muther F 1:30 - 4:25
Explorations of short fiction by African American writers from fugitive narratives to futurist science fiction. Focuses on strategies of cultural survival as mapped in narrative form—with special interest in trickster storytellers, alternative temporalities and double-voicing. Close attention paid to the exigencies of the short form, the experimental ground of the short story and its role for emerging writers, and notable anthologies and the role of stories in movement-making. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.

278. The Sixties
David Hecht M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
Explores the politics and culture of the 1960s in the United States. Particular topics of focus include civil rights, student activism, the Vietnam War, the counterculture, and the beginnings of the feminist and environmental movements of the 1970s. Also explores the political dynamics of the decade’s various controversies, paying particular attention to the way that such controversies shaped—and continue to shape—United States political culture.

327. White Negroes
Guy Foster T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Close readings of literary and filmic texts that interrogate widespread beliefs in the fixity of racial categories and the broad assumptions these beliefs often engender. Investigates “whiteness” and “blackness” as unstable and fractured ideological constructs—constructs that, while socially and historically produced, are no less “real” in their tangible effects, whether internal or external. Includes works by Charles Chesnutt, Sinclair Lewis, Nella Larsen, Norman Mailer, Anne McClintock, Jack Kerouac, John Howard Griffin, Andrea Lee, Sandra Bernhard, and Warren Beatty. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.

328. Black Literary History and the Archive
Gabrielle Foreman M 5:40 - 8:35
Examines the lives of two well-known nineteenth-century women writers, Harriet Jacobs and Harriet Wilson, as a means to train students in the tools of literary recovery. How do we resurrect the lives of people who were considered unimportant, those whose contributions were dismissed and buried? What does this tell us about what is considered valuable, what gets archived and what constitutes "memory." How is this connected to what's been passed down as canonical? As we expand the contours of the canon, we will also reflect on our own sense of the scope and shape of African American historical memory and the ways in which we organize (literary) history. How do we interpret religion, resistance and labor activities that that fall "outside" of conventional narratives about African American experience? This class will take on these larger questions as we spend a great deal of time doing archival work in nineteenth-century newspapers, census records and beyond. The class will culminate in a trip to (either) Boston or New Hampshire to examine records that are only available in archives housed there.