WOST 293C: Black Women in the U.S.
Racism, Sexism, & Community
Jeannine M. Marks
Spring 2001 MWF 11:15-12:05
Room: Machmer W-15
Office Hours: Wednesday 12:15-1:15 (& by appointment)
Office: Bartlett 75
Mailbox: 208 Bartlett
Tel: 545-1922 (message only)
Email: jmarks@complit.umass.edu (preferred)

Course Description:

The course examines Black women's struggles for racial and gender equality in the U.S. from slavery to the present. By virtue of being members of competing social groups (e.g. woman, mother, worker, Black, heterosexual/lesbian, feminist), Black women are often torn between group allegiances and issues. Emphasis will be on the achievements of Black women as agents of social change to balance these tensions and advance their social position. Readings will highlight instances in which Black women challenge the status quo through political activism, grassroots community change, work, writing, as well as everyday acts of resistance.

Course Requirements:

  1. Regular attendance is required for this course and necessary for group discussions. 10% of your final grade. You are allowed 3 unexcused absences, more than this will lower your final grade by 1 full letter. If you are unable to attend class due to illness or are otherwise unavailable, please notify me in advance as well as provide the appropriate documentation. This is your responsibility. Attendance is not fulfilled by your physical presence. You must also participate in class activities.
  2. Participation.10% of your grade. You are expected to come to class fully prepared having read the materials assigned for the day. There will be serious group discussion of materials and you are expected to participate. (3% = for process of term paper)
  3. Short Paper. 25 % of your grade. You are expected to hand in one short paper of 3-4 pages due March 2, 2001.
  4. Presentation. 20% of your grade. Everyone is required to give one class presentation on the course readings. Each presentation should be 5-10 minutes, no less than 5. Be prepared to answer class questions and lead class discussion.
  5. Final Paper. 35% of your final grade. The paper must be 6-8 pages in length, typed and double-spaced, and must include a bibliography. Process involves brainstorm, rough draft, and peer review, all of which count for 3% of your participation grade.
Final Grade =
10 % Attendance
10% Participation
20% Presentation
25% Short Paper
35% Final Paper

Required Books:
Books available at Food for Thought,
106 North Pleasant St., Amherst Jacqueline Jones. Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.

Zora Neale Hurston. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Harper, 1998.

Reader available from WOST office
Course Reader: WOST 293C Black Women in the U.S.

Course Calendar