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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

W.E.B. Du Bois Department


The Undergraduate Program in Afro-American Studies

Degree: Bachelor of Arts

  Chief Undergraduate Advisor: Britt Rusert

     Contact: Tricia Loveland
     Office: 329 New Africa House
     Phone: (413) 545-2751

Chair of Department: Professor John H. Bracey

Professors Bracey, Jimoh, Shabazz, Sinha, Smethurst, Tracy; Assistant Professors Francis (Econ/AfroAm), Losier, Parker, Rusert; Adjunct Professors Bowman, Higginson, Paynter.

Lecturers:  Karla Zelaya

The Field

The W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies is one of the largest such departments in the country, offering an undergraduate major for all students who desire indepth knowledge of the history and culture of Black people in Africa and the New World. The course of study is interdisciplinary with courses in African and Afro-American history, art, political science, and literature. The training and experience of the faculty provides a perspective on the history, culture, and place in the world of Africans and Afro-Americans that differs markedly from that of the traditional disciplines. This approach to the study of human beings offers a better understanding of the totality of the individual or group experience in the context of American society.

The Minor

A minor sequence in Afro-American Studies requires that a student elect a minimum of five (5) courses the Du Bois Department. Any department-based course not taken as an independent study counts towards the minor requirement. Credits earned in any regular courses taught in other Five College Black Studies departments count towards the minor requirement as well. Students who intend to fulfill the minor requirements in Afro-American Studies are required to register with the department at the beginning of their junior year. Graduating seniors must submit a Declaration of Minor form to the department main office at the beginning of the semester in which they intend to graduate.

The Major

The major in Afro-American Studies requires that a student complete a minimum of eleven (11) courses in the Du Bois Department in addition to the AFROAM 365: Junior Year Writing requirement--total of twelve (12) courses.  Independent study credits do not count toward the major requirements. 

The Major Requirements (pdf)

Attention: Senior Thesis No Longer Required--now "optional"

*Note: Only one departmental course may satisfy the Gen. Ed. Requirement (for Primary Majors only)

I. INTRODUCTION    (1 course)

           101 Introduction to Black Studies


           Humanities Group (2 courses required)

           111 Survey of African Art
           113 Aesthetics of Afro-American Art
           117 Survey of Afro-American Literature I
           118 Survey of Afro-American Literature II
           151 Culture and Literature
           155 Concepts in Afro-American Music I
           156 Concepts in Afro-American Music II
           MUSIC 102 Afro-American Music
           MUSIC 103 History of Jazz

          History and Social Science Group (2 courses required)

           132 Afro-American History, 1619-1860
           133 Afro-American History, Civil War to 1954
           161 Introduction to Afro-American Political Science
           ECON 144 Political Economy of Racism
           HISTORY 160 History of Africa to 1500
           HISTORY 161 History of Africa since 1500


Four courses at the 200-400 level and AFROAM 365 (History, Social Sciences, Literature, Creative and Performing Arts)

           222 The Black Church in the U.S.
           232 History of Black Nationalism
           234 Literature of the Harlem Renaissance  (ALU)
           235 Black Sociological Thought (SBU)

           236 History of the Civil Rights Movement (HSU)
           238 Arts and Cultural Identity
           252 Afro-American Image in American Writing
           254 Introduction to African Studies (HSU)
           257 Afro-American Novel
           262 Radical Traditions in American History
           264 Foundations of Black Education in the U.S. (HSU)
           290C The Blues Came Down Like Dark Night Showers of Rain (ATU)
           290D Afro-Am Poetry: Beginning to 1900 (ALU)
           291C Black Autobiographies
           318 Black Music and Theater
           326 Black Women in U.S. History (HSU)
           331 The Life and Writings of W.E.B. Du Bois (U)
           332 Blacks and Jews (U)
           345 Southern Literature (ALU)       
           350 Seminar:  African American Islam
           361 Revolution in the Third World
           365 Composition: Style & Organization
           390A Jazz and Blues Literature (ALU)
           390B Life & Work of Richard Wright
           390C Afro-American Literature of the 1930’s (ALU)
           390D Langston Hughes (ALU)
           390E Race, Ethnicity and Gender in U.S. History (HSU)
           391A Political Thought of Martin and Malcolm
           391B Modern Afro-American Women Novelists
           391C Creative Writing
           391  Critique of the Concept of Racism
           394A  Seminar:  African Art History
           395A  Seminar: The Writings of Chinua Achebe

           397A  Abolition and Antislavery

        Junior Year Writing

          365 Composition: Style and Organization 

IV. Senior Seminar Sequence (2 courses)

      *Both courses required for primary and secondary AfroAm majors: Juniors & Seniors

          494DI  Du Bois Senior Seminar, 3 credits  (IE designation, Fall offering)

          496 Independent Project, 3 credits            


Career Opportunities

Graduates of the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies have entered graduate schools in the fields of African and Afro-American studies, history, political science, public health, industrial relations, urban planning, law, literature, and several other areas. They have secured employment in areas such as teaching, journalism, television communications, criminal justice, insurance sales, and community organizing.

Please click"What Can I Do With A Black Studies Major? 222 Answers" by Robert Fikes, Jr., Librarian, San Diego State University, for more information (PDF).

† - Courses accepted towards the Advanced Sequence from outside departments

ANTHRO 382                Caribbean Cultures
ANTHRO 470                Cultures of Africa
ANTHRO 497AA          African American Anthropology
FRNCH STDS  564        Literature of Africa and the Caribbean
JOURN 310                     The Press and the Third World
POLSCI 307                    Black Politics
POLSCI 341                    Government and Politics of Central America and the Caribbean
POLSCI 343                    Government and Politics of East Africa
POLSCI 345                    Revolutionary Nationalism and Imperialism in the Caribbean
POLSCI 346                    Government and Politics of West Africa
POLSCI 397                    Comparative Politics of Cuba, Puerto Rico and Haiti    
SOC 340                          Race Relations
SOC 397                          Martin Luther King Jr., and the Civil Rights Movement
WOST 292                       Black Women in U.S. History
WOST 394                       Black Feminist/Womanist Thought
WOST 297                       Afro-American Women in the Civil Rights Movement