Graduate Courses - Fall 2016 & Spring 2017

AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES
GRADUATE COURSES – FALL 2016 (FA)

AFAM 505a/AMST 643a, THEORIZING RACIAL FORMATIONS. Christopher Lebron   
(FA) Monday, 9:25 – 11:15 a.m.
A required course for all first-year students in the combined Ph.D. program in African American Studies; also open to students in American Studies. This interdisciplinary reading seminar focuses on new work that is challenging the temporal, theoretical, and spatial boundaries of the field.

AFAM 514a/AMST 735a/ENGL 950a, A SOUND THEORY OF BLACKNESS:  AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE & MUSIC IN HIGH FIDELITY.  Daphne Brooks
(FA) Tuesday, 1:30 – 3:20 p.m.
An exploration of sonic theory and the African American literary tradition from the nineteenth century through the millennium with special emphasis on major debates in jazz studies and a critical (re)examination of blues ideologies, as well as the politics and poetics of spirituals, R&B and soul, funk, Afrofuturism, punk, pop, and hip-hop. The course places the work of a range of cultural theorists (Douglass, DuBois, Adorno, Hurston, Ellison, Murray, Baraka, Mackey, Carby, Spillers, O’Meally, Griffin, Moten, Edwards, Radano, Nancy, Szendy, Perry, Weheliye, etc.) in conversation with key texts and epochs in black letters.

AFAM 558a/AMST 688a/HIST577a/RLST 688a/WGSS 695a, HISTORICIZING RELIGION.  Kathryn Lofton
(FA) Monday, 9:25 – 11:15 a.m.
What does it mean to offer a history of religion? How is a history of religion distinct from, or overlapping with, the history of race or gender? This course takes as its central subject a key methodological problem of modernity, namely the task to offer material accounts for human perception, social organization, and epistemological vantage. To explore this subject, we will read new historical monographs and relevant classic theories that consider what religion is, how its categorization is like and unlike other concepts for human distinction, and why it became something in modernity requiring historical diagnosis. Included in our topical survey will be examinations of secularization and disenchantment; myth and narrative; church history and hagiography; objectivity and positivism; world religions and comparative religions; Orientalism and colonialism; sectarianism and secularism. Included in our reading list will be works like Elizabeth A. Clark, History, Theory, Text: Historians and the Linguistic Turn; Sylvester Johnson, African American Religions, 1500-2000: Colonialism, Democracy, and Freedom; and Suzanne Marchand, German Orientalism in the Age of Empire: Religion, Race, and Scholarship.

AFAM 584a/SOCY 584a, INEQUALITY, RACE, AND THE CITY.  Elijah Anderson
(FA) Monday, 11-30 – 1:20 p.m.
Urban inequality in America will be studied. The racial iconography of the city will be explored and represented, and the dominant cultural narrative of civic pluralism will be considered.  Topics of concern include urban poverty, race relations, ethnicity, class, privilege, education, social networks, social deviance, and crime.

AFAM 616a/AMST 880a/WGSS 616a, IMAGINED FUTURES: SPECIES BEING BIOTECHNOLOGIES, AND PLANETARY RELATIONS IN LITERATURE, ART AND MUSIC. 
(FA) Hazel Carby / Tuesday, 2:30 – 4:20 p.m.
This course interrogates the premises of speculative fiction alongside the futuristic compositions of visual artists and musicians. The theoretical and historical frameworks of the course are shaped by a deep engagement with questions of the possibilities and limits of the human, addressing theoretical and imaginative questions of species being, hybridity, genders and sexualities, racialization, and relationships between biology, technology, and the body. Readings in cultural
and postcolonial theory provide an important lens into this material, and students are asked to consider how colonial and imperial pasts and presents inform future imaginings or provide the motivation for creative artists to envision alternative futures.

AFAM 622a/PLSC 851a, RACE AND ETHNICITY IN AMERICAN POLITICS.  Vesla Weaver
(FA) Friday, 9:25 – 11:15 a.m.
This course examines different theories for understanding the racial order—non-zero-sum mobility, racial triangulation, interest convergence, racial resentment, capture, among others—as well as strategic responses by minorities to the racial order to undermine disadvantages: linked fate, distancing, threat mobilization, and coalition formation. Various social science methods are used.

AFAM 716a/AMST 910a/HIST 764a WORKING GROUP ON LATINA/O STUDIES I. Stephen Pitti, Alicia Schmidt Camacho
(FA) Friday, 9:25 – 11:15 a.m.
A continuous workshop for graduate students in American Studies, History, African American Studies, and related fields.  This group will devote the fall semester to intensive reading and discussion of important interdisciplinary texts in Latina/o Studies.  Students interested in participating should contact stephen.pitti@yale.edu. .

AFAM 738a/AMST 706a/HIST 711a/WGSS 716a, READINGS IN AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN’S HISTORY.  Crystal Feimster
(FA) Monday, 1:30 – 3:20 p.m.
The diversity of African American women’s lives from the colonial era through the late twentieth century. Using primary and secondary sources we explore the social, political, cultural, and economic factors that produced change and transformation in the lives of African American women. Through history, fiction, autobiography, art, religion, film, music, and cultural criticism we discuss and explore the construction of African American women’s activism and feminism; the racial politics of the body, beauty, and complexion; hetero- and same-sex sexualities; intraracial class relations; and the politics of identity, family, and work.

AFAM 775a/AMST 771a/ENGL 981a, AFFECT THEORY.  Tavia Nyong’o
(FA) Monday, 1:30 – 3:20 p.m.
This graduate seminar will trace the emergence of affect, sense, feeling, and mood as critical keywords in American Studies. Particular attention will be paid to the manner in which queer theorists such as Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Lauren Berlant, Ann Cvetkovich, Heather Love, Jennifer Doyle, Jonathan Flatley, and José Esteban Muñoz developed the concept in what has been called “the affective turn” in queer and feminist aesthetics. The philosophical basis of affect theory in the writings of Spinoza, Heidegger, and Deleuze will form the core of the seminar. We will also look to an alternate genealogy for affect politics in the writings of Bergson and Deleuze on fabulation. We will consider the psychoanalytic take on affect, in particular, the object relations school of Klein and Winnicott, and we will read critics who  contrast affect theory with trauma theory. Marxist contributions to affect theory will include readings from Virno (on humor), Hardt and Negri (on affective labor), and Ranciere (on the distribution of the sensible). The writings of Jasbir Puar and Brian Massumi on the affective politics of contemporary war, empire, and societies of control will also be considered, as will writings by Fred Moten, Saidiya Hartman, and Frank Wilderson on optimism and pessimism as moods/modalities of black studies.

AFAM 797a/AMST 797a/HIST 797a, ATLANTIC ABOLITIONS. Marcela Echeverri, Edward Rugemer
(FA) Thursday, 9:25 – 11:15 a.m.
This readings course explores the historiography on the century of abolition, when the new states of the Americas abolished racial slavery. Beginning with the first abolitions in the U.S. North during the 1780s, we consider the emergence and process of abolition throughout the Atlantic world, including the Caribbean, Spanish America, and Brazil, through the 1880s.

AFAM 802a/AMST 804a/HIST 750a, READINGS IN AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY SINCE 1865.  Glenda Gilmore
(FA) Wednesday, 1:30 – 3:20 p.m.
Students read major secondary works alongside key primary sources on African American history from 1865 to the present. The course covers Reconstruction; the Jim Crow era; the Long Civil Rights Movement, including its classical phase; African American transnationalism; and urban, political, and labor history from the African American perspective. The course emphasizes gender and racial formation. Students read thematically within the course, make class presentations, and write a historiographical paper.

AFAM 826a/HSAR 783a, THEORIZING DIASPORA. Kobena Mercer
(FA) Thursday, 3:30 – 5:20 p.m.
This seminar reviews different methods in the study of diasporas and demonstrates their application in research on visual culture and art history. Models addressed to African American, Caribbean, and black British contexts by Stuart Hall, Paul Gilroy, James Clifford, Brent Hayes Edwards, among others, are examined in relation to art, film, and photography that articulate cross-cultural aesthetics. Debates on hybridization that led to such cognate concepts as syncretism, creolization, and translation are tested in comparative case studies. Texts include Homi Bhabha, Sarat Maharaj, Jean Fisher, Edouard Glissant, and Jan Nederveen Pieterse; and book-length introductions by Robin Cohen, Global Diasporas (2008), and Sudesh Mishra, Diaspora Criticism (2006).

AFAM 851a/CPLT 989a/FREN 943a, CREOLE IDENTITIES AND FICTIONS. Christopher Miller
(FA) Thursday, 1:30 – 3:20 p.m.
Focusing on the French and English Caribbean, the course analyzes the quintessential but ambiguous American condition: that of the “Creole.” Encompassing all nonnative cultures, this term is inseparable from issues of race and slavery. Readings of historical and literary texts: Moreau de Saint-Méry, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Madame de Staël, Charlotte Brontë (and reinventions of Wuthering Heights by Jean Rhys and Maryse Condé), the Créolistes of Martinique. Attention to Louisiana and to the Haitian Revolution. Prerequisite: reading knowledge of French.

AFAM 880a or b, DIRECTED READING.

(FA) By arrangement with faculty.

AFAM 895a and b, DISSERTATION PROSPECTUS WORKSHOP.  Daphne Brooks
(FA) A noncredit, two-term course, which graduate students in their third year of study must satisfactorily complete. This workshop is intended to support preparation of the dissertation proposal.

AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES
GRADUATE COURSES – SPRING 2017 (SP)

AFAM 511b/HSAR 698b/WGSS 698b, FAULT LINES: RACE, GENDER, AND SEXUALITY IN CONTEMPORARY ART. Erica James
(SP) Thursday, 1:30 – 3:20 p.m.
This seminar examines moments in which prevailing representational paradigms of race, gender, and sexuality were disrupted and transformed, affecting three-dimensional paradigm shifts in reading of race, gender, and sexuality in fine art and visual culture. Students deepen their engagement with and writing on this work beyond the ghetto of identity politics by considering multiple methods of theoretical analyses simultaneously. Sites of rupture include the art and visual culture that emerged around the figure of the boxer through Jack Johnson and Muhammad Ali; African diaspora visual poetics in the youth culture of South Africa and Jamaica; and the work of contemporary artists Kalup Linzy, Mickalene Thomas, and Iona Rozeal Brown.

AFAM 546b/WGSS 610b, THEORIES OF RACE, SEX & JUSTICE.  Joseph Fischel
(SP) Tuesday, 1:30 – 3:20
Explorations of race, sex and gender in political theories of justice; identity formations and ambivalent aspirations for justice theory and justice politics; the body as policed, desired, and desiring; “matter” as idiom of justice.

AFAM 588bU/AMST 710bU/ENGL 948bU, AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN AMERICA.  Robert Stepto
(SP) Monday, 1:30 – 3:20 p.m.
A study of autobiographical writings from Mary Rowlandson’s Indian captivity narrative (1682) to the present. Classic forms such as immigrant, education, and cause narratives; prevailing autobiographical strategies involving place, work, and photographs. Authors include Franklin, Douglass, Jacobs, Antin, Kingston, Uchida, Balakian, Als, and Karr.

AFAM 642b/AMST 642b/CPLT 550b/WGSS 642b, BLACKNESS IN LATINX AND LATIN AMERICA.  Dixa Ramirez
(SP) Tuesday, 3:30 – 5:20 p.m.
This interdisciplinary reading seminar explores how ideas about blackness developed in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking Latin America and the Latinx U.S. Reading authors such as Junot Díaz, Gilberto Freyre, Nicolás Guillén, Sylvia Wynter, Mary Louise Pratt, Herman Melville, Carlos Fuentes, Deb Vargas, David Kazanjian, and Maria Elena Martínez, we address a wide variety of issues including slave insurrections, the plantation system, piracy and buccaneering, the black roots of several Latin American musical genres, miscegenation/mestizaje and colorism, and the central role of sexuality in race-based social hierarchies.

AFAM 660bU/AFST 678bU/CPLT 678b/ENGL 938bU/JDST 678bU, LITERATURES OF BLACKS AND JEWS FROM THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.  Marc Caplan.
(SP) Thursday, 1:30 – 3:20 p.m.
This seminar compares representative writings by African, Caribbean, and African American authors of the past one hundred years, together with European, American, and South African Jewish authors writing in Yiddish, Hebrew, French, and English. This comparison examines the paradoxically central role played by minority, “marginal” groups in the creation of modern literature and the articulation of the modern experience

AFAM 705b/AMST 708b/ENGL 708b/HIST 708b/HSHM 729b, THE HISTORY OF RACE. Greta LaFleur
(SP) Wednesday, 1:30 – 3:20 p.m.
This course offers a broad survey of the history of racial science and racialist thinking in the Atlantic world from the early modern period through the late nineteenth century. Rather than attempting to detail the histories of specific racial formations (such as blackness or whiteness), the course tracks the intellectual history of the emergence of “race” as a specific category of human differentiation and traces a swath of its most muscular—and pernicious—permutations through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

AFAM 718b/AMST ??b/HIST 765b, WORKING GROUP ON LATINA/O STUDIES II.  Stephen Pitti, Alicia Schmidt Camacho
(SP) Friday, 9:25 – 11:15 a.m.
A continuous workshop for graduate students in American Studies, History, African American Studies, and related fields.  The spring semester will focus on the development of individual research projects and on public history work with the Smithsonian Museums and organizations in New Haven.  Students interested in participating should contact stephen.pitti@yale.edu.

AFAM 764b/AMST 715b/HIST 715b, READINGS IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY AMERICA. David Blight
(SP) Wednesday, 1:30 – 3:20 p.m.
The course explores recent trends and historiography on several problems through the middle of the nineteenth century: sectionalism, expansion; slavery and the Old South; northern society and reform movements; Civil War causation; the meaning of the Confederacy; why the North won the Civil War; the political, constitutional, and social meanings of emancipation and Reconstruction; violence in Reconstruction society; the relationships between social/cultural and military/political history; problems in historical memory; the tension between narrative and analytical history writing; and the ways in which race and gender have reshaped research and interpretive agendas.

AFAM 776b/REL 704b, BEYOND THE VEIL: APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF BLACK RELIGION IN THE UNITED STATES, TAUGHT BY CLARENCE.  Clarence Hardy, III
(SP) Tuesday, 1:30 – 3:20 p.m.
This course will explore how scholars have constructed and pursued the modern study of black religion in the United States from its inception in the early decades of the twentieth century,through its institutionalization in the academy after the civil rights movement, and its continued evolution in contemporary times. The course will focus especially on pioneers in the field (e.g. W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, and Carter Woodson) and consider the rise of competing methodologies for the study of black religious cultures, ranging from the historical to the sociological while including at various moments, the theological, anthropological and literary. Special attention will be given to the ways in which racial and religious identities have shaped and confounded scholarly efforts to interpret black religious subjects and practices even as these identities have also provided a platform for interrogating the meaning of race, nation, and political commitment in America.

AFAM 793b/AMST 694b/ENGL 955b, COLONIAL THEATER, POSTCOLONIAL DRAMA, AND WORLD PERFORMANCE.  Joseph Roach
(SP) Wednesday, 3:30 – 5:20 p.m.
Uniting the approaches of theater history, dramaturgy, and performance studies, this seminar will begin with the case study of Lolita Chakrabarti’s Red Velvet (2012, revived 2016), a play about the life of Ira Aldridge (1807-1867), the African-American actor who is said to be the first black man to play Othello.  Readings will include plays, critical theories, and historical documents from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first. The seminar will be organized around selected genealogies of performance as represented by adaptations, revivals, and critical re-writings:  Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko by Thomas Southerne and Biyi Bandele-Thomas; John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera by Bertolt Brecht, Wole Soyinka, and P. L. Deshpande; Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe by Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Derek Walcott; and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot by Femi Osofisan and Suzan-Lori Parks.

AFAM 880a or b, DIRECTED READING.

(SP) By arrangement with faculty.

AFAM 895a and b, DISSERTATION PROSPECTUS WORKSHOP.  Daphne Brooks
A noncredit, two-term course, which graduate students in their third year of study must satisfactorily complete. This workshop is intended to support preparation of the dissertation proposal.
 

Check Online Course Information (OCI) for the most current status of
course meeting dates and times.

For more information contact Jodie Stewart-Moore, Registrar,
Department of African American Studies
203-432-1170