Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies: Prof. Fredrick Harris, 758 Schermerhorn Extension; 854-6593; firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Undergraduate Studies: Prof. Josef Sorett, 80 Claremont; 851-4141; email@example.com
Assistant Director: Shawn Mendoza, 758 Schermerhorn Extension; 854-8789; firstname.lastname@example.org
Administrative Assistant: Sharon Harris, 758 Schermerhorn Extension; 854-7080; email@example.com
Institute for Research in African-American Studies: 758 Schermerhorn Extension; 854-7080
Affiliated Faculty (continued)
The Institute for Research in African-American Studies was established at Columbia in 1993, expanding the University’s commitment to this field of study. The African-American studies curriculum explores the historical, cultural, social, and intellectual contours of the development of people of African descent. The curriculum enables students to master the basic foundations of interdisciplinary knowledge in the humanities and social sciences in the black American, Caribbean, and sub-Saharan experience. Courses examine the cultural character of the African diaspora; its social institutions and political movements; its diversity in thought, belief systems, and spiritual expressions; and the factors behind the continuing burden of racial inequality. During their junior and senior years of study, students focus their research within a specific discipline or regional study relevant to the African diaspora. Students should consider a major in African-American studies if they are interested in careers where strong liberal arts preparation is needed, such as fields in the business, social service, or government sectors. Depending on one’s area of focus within the major, the African-American studies program can also prepare individuals for career fields like journalism, politics, public relations, and other lines of work that involve investigative skills and working with diverse groups. A major in African-American studies can also train students in graduate research skills and methods, such as archival research, and is very useful for individuals who are considering an advanced graduate degree such as the Ph.D.
The Institute for Research in African-American Studies sponsors research projects, colloquia, and academic conferences that are open to the Columbia community; students who major or concentrate in African-American studies receive information about these and related events. African-American studies majors and concentrators may also use the independent study course offering to conduct research on one or more of these faculty-sponsored projects. All inquiries concerning degree requirements should be forwarded to the director of undergraduate studies. Inquiries concerning course offerings and Institute-sponsored events should be forwarded to the assistant director.
The requirements for departmental honors in African-American studies are as follows:
- all requirements for major must be completed by graduation date
- minimum grade point average of 3.6 in the major
- completion of senior thesis—due to the director of undergraduate studies on the first Monday in April.
A successful thesis for departmental honors must be selected as the most outstanding paper of all papers reviewed by the thesis committee in a particular year. The Thesis Evaluation Committee is comprised of department faculty and led by the director of undergraduate studies. The thesis should be of superior quality, clearly demonstrating originality and excellent scholarship, as determined by the committee. Normally no more than 10 percent of graduating majors receive departmental honors in a given year.
The African-American Studies Thesis
Although the senior thesis is a prerequisite for consideration for departmental yhonors, all African-American studies majors are strongly encouraged to consider undertaking thesis work even if they are ineligible or do not wish to be considered for departmental honors. The senior thesis gives undergraduate majors the opportunity to engage in rigorous, independent, and original research on a specific topic of their choosing, the result of which is a paper of 35-60 pages in length. In particular, students who are contemplating graduate work of any sort should seriously consider the benefits of thesis research. It is strongly recommended that students begin consideration and exploratory reading of a thesis topic during their junior year, a strategy which proves to make the senior year research and writing process much more productive. The UndEC strongly recommends that, prior to embarking on a thesis, the student purchase and read Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (University of Chicago Press) and Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research, (University of Chicago Press).
The senior thesis must be written under the supervision of at least one faculty member. Should the thesis writer elect to have more than one thesis adviser (either from the outset or added on during the early stages of research), these faculty in the aggregate comprise the Thesis Committee, of which one faculty member must be designated chair. In either case, it is incumbent upon the thesis writer to establish with the thesis chair and committee a reasonable schedule of deadlines for submission of outlines, chapters, bibliographies, drafts, etc. In many cases, the thesis writer may find that the most optimal way in which to complete a thesis is to formally enroll in an independent study course (C3997 for fall or C3998 for spring) with the thesis adviser.
All students interested in writing a thesis should notify the director of undergraduate studies and submit the name of the faculty adviser ideally by October 1st, but certainly no later than the end of the fall semester. In close consultation with the thesis adviser, the student should develop a viable topic, a schedule of meetings, a bibliography, and a timeline for completion (including a schedule of drafts and outlines).
For a Major in African-American Studies
The major should be arranged in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies. Students interested in majoring should plan their course of study not later than the end of their sophomore year. A minimum of 36 points is required for the major as follows:
- AFAS C1001 Introduction to African-American studies
- AFAS C3936 Colloquium: Black intellectuals
- One senior research seminar
- A minimum of four courses in the governed electives category, which provides an interdisciplinary background in the field of African-American studies. Such electives must be drawn from at least three different departments. Of these, one must be a literature course; one must be a history course; and one must focus primarily on cultures and societies located in Africa or within the African diaspora outside of the United States, such as the Caribbean or Latin America.
- Five courses must be taken within a designated area of study, preferably within a distinct discipline (e.g., anthropology, English, sociology, political science, history). Students may also select their five courses within a distinct regional or geographical area within the African diaspora (e.g., sub- Saharan Africa). One of these five courses must be a seminar.
For a Concentration in African-American Studies
A minimum of 24 points is required for the concentration. All students must take the introductory course, AFAS C1001 Introduction to African-American studies. Within the governed elective category, a minimum of 9 points must be taken. Of these, one course must be selected from the humanities; one course must be in the social sciences; and one must focus primarily on non-U.S. cultures and societies within the African diaspora and sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, a minimum of 12 points must be acquired from courses within a designated area of study, such as a specific discipline or a regional area (e.g., Africa). One of the courses taken to fulfill either the governed electives category or the designated area of study category must be either AFAS C3936 Colloquium: Black intellectuals or a research seminar.
AFAS C1001x Introduction to African-American Studies Global Core course Corequisites: AFAS C1010 section 001 Discussion Section or AFAS C1010 section 002- Discussion Section From the arrival of enslaved Africans to the recent election of President Barack Obama, black people have been central the story of the United States, and the Americas, more broadly. African Americans have been both contributors to, and victims of, this "New World" democratic experiment. To capture the complexities of this ongoing saga, this course offers an inter-disciplinary exploration of the development of African American cultural and political life in the U.S., but also in relationship to the different African diasporic outposts of the Atlantic world. The course will be organized both chronologically and thematically, moving from the "middle passage" to the present so-called "post-racial" moment-drawing on a range of classical texts, primary sources, and more recent secondary literature-to grapple with key questions, concerns and problems (i.e. agency, resistance, culture, structure, etc.) that have preoccupied scholars of African American history, culture and politics. Students will be introduced to range of disciplinary methods and theoretical approaches (spanning the humanities and social sciences), while also attending to the critical tension between intellectual work and everyday life, which are central to the formation of African-American Studies as an academic field. This course will engage specific social formations (i.e. migration, urbanization, globalization, diaspora, etc), significant cultural/political developments (i.e. uplift ideologies, nationalism, feminism, pan-Africanism, religion/spirituality, etc), and hallmark moments/movements (i.e. Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights movement, Black Power, etc). By the end of the semester students will be expected to possess a working knowledge of major themes/figures/traditions, alongside a range of cultural/political practices and institutional arrangements, in African American Studies.
AFAS C3930x (Section 001) Topics in the Black Experience: Honey is my Knife -African Spirituality in the Americas 4 pts. Open to all undergraduate students 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 three innovative guest scholars: The seminar will include an extensive use of audio-visual materials including slides, videos and audio recordings.
AFAS C3930x (Section 002) Topics in the Black Experience: Hip Hop & Social Inequality 4 pts. This course uses an interdisciplinary approach to understanding contemporary social ills through the lens of Hip-Hop culture. Issues like race, class, gender, poverty and sexuality are common concerns in the wider social world, but Hip-Hop has provided unique articulations of and responses to these issues. Hip-Hop often "gives voice" to the voiceless, at the same time, Hip-Hop has been a site for inequality. We will explore the degree to which Hip-Hop is or can be a social change agent. This course will expose students to the field of Hip-Hop Studies, issues in urban America, and international perspectives on Hip-Hop culture.
AFAS C3930x (Section 003) Topics in the Black Experience: Religion & Sexuality through Afro-Diasporic Legacies 4 pts. Open to all undergraduate schoolsTopics in the Black Experience: Religion & Sexuality through Afro-Diasporic Legacies Surveillance of Afro-Diasporic sexualities has been a preoccupation of social studies since the inter-ethnic encounters that gave rise to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Legacies of sexual surveillance continue to impact Afro-Diasporic communities through the present, even as sexualities continue to emerge and develop within the everyday experiences of Afro-Diasporic people and communities and in the perceptions of those outside of Afro-Diasporic communities. Religion uniquely mediates Afro-Diasporic sexualities; it is at the crossroads of sexualities and religions that this course focuses. This course explores the sexualities of Afro-Diasporic people through languages and expressions of religious phenomena. With an emphasis on the voices and scholarship of Afro-Diasporic women, this course considers primary and secondary texts that extend from the Transatlantic Slave Trade through the present day, including religious phenomena such as humanism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and African-derived religious traditions. Through a treatment of bodily exploitation, rape, lynching, and incest, this class will parse the religious ethical perspectives that calcify as a result of racial and gender terror. However, it will also uncover the ways that both religions and sexualities have been (re)imagined in order to contravene iterations of racial, sexual, and religious violence.
AFAS G4080x (Section 001) Topics in the Black Experience: Racial & Social Formations: Method & Theory GRAD, JUN/SEN UNDERGRAD ONLY-UG NEED PROF APPRV & ADD/DROP"the problem of the twentieth century," W.E.B. du bois famously observed, "is the problem of the color line." This seminar will examine the implications of that insight through the theories of racial and social formations is us. and world history. This seminar on the theories of racial formation and social formation, and their explanatory value for understanding the subjectivities and social locations of peoples of color in the U.S.
Days & Times/
|Autumn 2013 :: AFAS G4080|
W 2:10p - 4:00p
758 EXT SCHERMERHORN HALL
|G. Okihiro||0 / 15|
AFAS G4080x (Section 002) Topics in the Black Experience:Historical Trajectories of African American Religion GRAD, JUN/SEN UNDERGRAD ONLY-UG NEED PROF APPRV & ADD/DROP This course will explore the various currents of thought, activism, denominational and institutional growth, theological reflection and religious fads in black churches from 18th century slave religion to the mega churches of today. Topics and figures to be covered include the African roots of slave religion, Christian socialism and the black social gospel, black Islam and Judaism, black Pentecostalism and its growing social impact, the personality cults of Daddy Grace and Father Divine, churches of the Civil Rights movement, and the New Thought materialism of prosperity preachers from Rev. Ike to Creflo Dollar and beyond.
AFAS G4080x (Section 003) Topics in the Black Experience: Queer/Caribbean/Studies 4 pts. GRAD, JUN/SEN UNDERGRAD ONLY-UG NEED PROF APPRV & ADD/DROP If we look beyond commercialized tropes of sun, sand, and (straight) sex, how can we understand the complex experiences of same-sex desiring and gender transgressing people in the Caribbean region? In what ways have academics and activists defined "queer-ness," and how has this concept been mobilized in Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies? What are the legacies of varied imperial projects in articulations of same-sex desire in the region? Building from these essential questions, this course offers a framework for thinking about same-sex sexualities as practices, as loci of identity, and as the sources of both belonging and exclusion in the Caribbean as well as in its North American and European diasporas. Through readings, discussions, film screenings, and conversations with guest speakers, we will ask questions about the relationships among processes of racialization, gendering, nation-building and class stratification in the construction of "queer" experiences. The core of the readings come from the social sciences, and the main trajectories of research to be considered include: the uses of gender and sexuality in defining citizenship in the region, fraught conflicts over passing and the costs of visibility, constructions of identity and desire, representations of Jamaica as "the most homophobic place on Earth," the challenges of responding to both state and interpersonal violence, and the sociopolitical context of the region's HIV/AIDS epidemic. Inspired by a growing body of work in Black Queer Studies, our critical, interdisciplinary conversations will allow us to investigate the possibilities and challenges of thinking "queerness" in the contemporary Caribbean.