Introduction to African American Studies

This course is an overview of black life and culture in the U.S., past and present.  Our approach is interdisciplinary and we spend our semester exploring fundamental questions about identity and social conditions across time and space.  Who are African Americans?  What have been their defining experiences in the U.S.A.? What do these experiences teach us about how African Americans have shaped this country and been shaped by it?  We start from the assumption that racial identity is not created in isolation.  Racial identity is formed and operates at the intersection of other core identities such as gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic class.  While we acknowledge "oppression" and "resistance" as central themes of African American existence, we aim to look at the particulars--the nuances of race realities--that make it difficult for us to talk about a singular African American experience and, hence, a single, all-encompassing solution to various social problems.  This course will show that there is certainly more than one African American experience.

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