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.
AFAM 505a / AMST 643a, Theorizing Racial Formations | Daphne Brooks
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 550b / FILM 714b, Race, Affect, and Cinema | Rizvana Bradley
This seminar draws out the importance of the recent “affective turn” in emergent theoretical discourses, in order to think about the organization of emotion and feeling within cinema, particularly cinema that foregrounds questions of race and racial intimacy. We are especially interested in thinking about the relationship between race and feeling, as well as the development of minor feelings, racial affect, and black affect. Course readings take up many of the key texts within affect theory, but we try to make explicit connections to the examples of racial affect we see emerging within cinema.
AFAM 563b / AMST 651b / ENGL 951b, Ralph Ellison in Context | Robert Stepto
This seminar pursues close readings of Ralph Ellison’s essays, short fiction, and novels. The “in context” component of the seminar involves working from the Benston and Sundquist volumes on Ellison to discern a portrait of the modernist African America Ellison investigated, with at least Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and Romare Bearden also in view. Texts include Ellison’s Collected Essays, Flying Home and Other Stories, Invisible Man, and Juneteenth; K. Benston, Speaking for You; E. Sundquist, Cultural Contexts for Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man; and A. Nadel, Invisible Criticism: Ralph Ellison and the American Canon.
AFAM 584b / SOCY 584b, Inequality, Race, and the City | Elijah Anderson
Urban inequality in America. The racial iconography of the city is explored and represented, and the dominant cultural narrative of civic pluralism is considered. Topics of concern include urban poverty, race relations, ethnicity, class, privilege, education, social networks, social deviance, and crime.
AFAM 605b / AMST 686b / HIST 769b, Introduction to Documentary Studies | Matthew Jacobson and Anna Duensing
This mixed graduate/undergraduate seminar surveys documentary work in three media—film, photography, and sound—since the 1930s, focusing on the documentary both as a cultural form with a history of its own and as a parcel of skill sets and storytelling and production practices to be studied and mastered. Readings and discussions cover important scholarly approaches to documentary as a genre, as well as close readings of documentaries themselves and practitioners’ guides to various aspects of documentary work. Topics include major trends in documentary practice across the three media, documentary ethics, aesthetics and truth-claims, documentary’s relationship to the scholarly disciplines and to journalism, and documentary work as political activism. Class meetings include screenings/viewings/soundings of documentary works, and practitioners’ panels and workshops with Yale documentarians (including Charles Musser, Zareena Grewal, Elihu Rubin, Gretchen Berland, and Laura Wexler) and local New Haven documentarians such as Jake Halpern (Yale ’97, This American Life). Students’ final projects may take the form of a traditional scholarly paper on some aspect of documentary history or a particular documentary producer, or an actual piece of documentary work—a film treatment, a brief video, a set of photographs, a sound documentary, or script.
AFAM 650a / ENGL 949a, Afro-Modernisms | Anthony Reed
This course considers key debates, texts, and institutions that have shaped African American culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Possible topics include the New Negro movement, the Black Arts movement, black internationalism, canon formation, and Afro-futurism.
AFAM 687a / AMST 701a / HIST 751a, “Race” and “Races” in American Studies | Matthew Jacobson
This reading-intensive seminar examines influential scholarship across disciplines on “the race concept” and racialized relations in American culture and society. Major topics include the cultural construction of race; race as both an instrument of oppressions and an idiom of resistance in American politics; the centrality of race in literary, anthropological, and legal discourse; the racialization of U.S. foreign policy; “race mixing” and “passing,” vicissitudes of “whiteness” in American politics; the centrality of race in American political culture; and “race” in the realm of popular cultural representation. Writings under investigation include classic formulations by scholars like Lawrence Levine and Ronald Takaki, as well as more recent work by Saidiya Hartman, Robin Kelley, and Ann Fabian. Seminar papers give students an opportunity to explore in depth the themes, periods, and methods that most interest them.
AFAM 743b / AMST 654b / ENGL 952b, American Artists and the African American Book | Robert Stepto
Visual art in African American books since 1900. Artists include Winold Reiss, Aaron Douglas, E.S. Campbell, Tom Feelings, and the FSA photographers of the 1930s and ’40s. Topics include Harlem Renaissance book art, photography and literature, and children’s books. Research in collections of the Beinecke Library and the Yale Art Gallery is encouraged.
AFAM 773a / SOCY 630a, Workshop in Urban Ethnography | Elijah Anderson
The ethnographic interpretation of urban life and culture. Conceptual and methodological issues are discussed. Ongoing projects of participants are presented in a workshop format, thus providing participants with critical feedback as well as the opportunity to learn from and contribute to ethnographic work in progress. Selected ethnographic works are read and assessed.
AFAM 813b / AMST 875b / MUSI 811b, Critical Approaches to Popular Music | Michael Veal
This seminar applies the different themes and discourses relevant to the study of popular music, including cultural studies, ethnomusicology, media, technology, music theory, gender studies, art history, and music history. The seminar is organized in workshop fashion, with student discussants drawing on the various discourses to contextualize specific album-length recordings assigned each week. The seminar is designed to help students master the variety of theoretical approaches that render popular music comprehensible.
AFAM 817b / HIST 741b, Slavery and Abolition in the Atlantic World | Edward Rugemer
An introduction to the central themes of the historiography on slavery in the Americas during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Readings include books and articles that have an explicitly comparative focus, as well as single-region studies. Themes include master/slave relations, African American cultures, resistance and rebellion, economic life, and the politics of slavery.
For more information contact Jodie Stewart-Moore, Registrar,
Department of African American Studies