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Afro-American Studies

Afro-American Studies | Courses | Faculty

325 New Africa House

Degree: Bachelor of Arts

Contact: Tricia Loveland
Office: 325 New Africa House
Phone: (413) 545-2751

Chair of Department: Professor Amilcar Shabazz. Professors Allen, Bracey, Jimoh, Terry, Tracy; Associate Professors Crawford, Sinha, Smethurst, Strickland; Assistant Professor Morrison; Adjunct Professors Bowman, Higginson, Paynter.

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 Major

The major in Afro-American Studies requires that a student complete a minimum of 33 credit hours in the Du Bois Department in addition to the Junior Year Writing requirement. Independent study credits do not count toward the major requirements.

I. Introductory Courses (15 cr.)
The following required courses introduce the discipline of Black Studies; the concepts, skills, and tools of modern scholarship; and the history, literature, and culture of Black people from their African origins to contemporary times.

A. 101 Introduction to Black Studies.

B. At least two courses in the Humanities group:
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

C. At least two courses in the History and Social Science group:
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

II. Advanced Courses
Twelve credits hours in courses numbered above 200. Students may choose to concentrate their studies in a particular area (history, social sciences, literature, arts), or may select from a number of areas. Courses include:

232 History of Black Nationalism
234 Literature of the Harlem Renaissance
235 Black Sociological Thought
236 History of the Civil Rights Movement
264 Foundations of Black Education in the U.S.
318 Black Music and Theater
331 Life and Writings of W.E.B. Du Bois
345 Southern Literature
354 Contemporary African Novel
361 Revolution in the Third World
394 Seminar in African Art

Special problems and Honors courses, which may be applied to this requirement, are also offered by the department.

Courses Outside the Department
Students may receive permission to apply to this requirement courses taught in other Five College Black Studies departments or in other departments at the university. Written approval for this must be obtained from a Du Bois Department adviser prior to enrollment in the outside course. The departments of Anthropology, History, Journalism, Music, Political Science, and Sociology and the Program in Women's Studies regularly offer such courses; a list is available at the Du Bois Department. These include:

ANTHRO 382 Caribbean Cultures
ANTHRO 470 Cultures of Africa
FRENCHST 564 Literature of Africa and the Caribbean
POLISCI 307 Black Politics
POLISCI 341 Government and Politics of Central America and the Caribbean
POLISCI 343 Government and Politics of East Africa
POLISCI 345 Revolutionary Nationalism and Imperialism in the Caribbean
POLISCI 346 Government and Politics of West Africa
POLISCI 397 Comparative Politics of Cuba, Puerto Rico and Haiti
SOCIOL 340 Race Relations
SOCIOL 397 Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement
WOMENSST 394 Black Feminist/Womanist Thought
WOMENSST 297 Afro-American Women in the Civil Rights Movement

III. Junior Year Writing
365 Composition: Style and Organization

IV. Senior Thesis (6 cr.)
All majors are required to write a six-credit senior thesis or equivalent under the supervision of a faculty member, and to attend a related senior seminar. Students ready to undertake their thesis projects must contact the department secretary to begin the process. For May graduation the process begins at the beginning of the preceding fall semester, for February graduation at the beginning of the preceding spring semester. At that time students must read and sign a copy of the “Senior Thesis Project Rules, Regulations and Deadlines.”

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.

The Minor


A minor sequence in Afro-American Studies requires that a student elect a minimum of 15 credit hours in 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.

Afro-American Studies | Courses | Faculty