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Skidmore College
SankofaBlack Studies Program

Fall 2021 Courses

Lara Ayad 

AH 151D: Ways of Seeing: Survey of African Art

Survey of the arts of Africa, from 10,000 B.C. until the present. Students will explore issues influencing the social context of African visual and performing arts. They will study the development of royal regalia, religious sculpture and architecture, and painting with respect to gender roles, spiritual beliefs, state patronage, and long-distance trade. Historical and cultural contexts covered will include early African kingdoms, twentieth century Pan-African movements, and contemporary art markets. 

Emmanuel Balogun

PL 251a: Contemporary African Politics 

This course provides students an opportunity to engage with the historical and present intricacies of the African continent and examine the lived experiences and multitude of perspectives on social and political life on the continent. This course provides students with a historical and contemporary context for understanding politics in Africa and encourages students to consider the linkages between their own experiences in politics and those within Africa. Emphasis is placed on the practical application of Africa-specific theories to understand the politics and governance in pre-colonial Africa, the enslavement of African people, and colonialism in Africa. Students will also explore the rise of nationalist movements, decolonization, and the implications of competition between US, China, and Russia on the continent. 

PL 251b: Hip Hop Politics and Protest:

An exploration of how Hip-Hop music and culture emerges as a tool of resistance and empowerment in political and social movements in the United States and the broader African Diaspora, becoming an outlet for marginalized populations to mobilize and express political and social injustices. The course also explores specific instances of protest and the ways in which hip-hop’s popularity sustains, supports, and sometimes disrupts political mobilization. Students will explore the ways in which hip-hop culture spans various scales of governance, from the global to the local, to indicate how hip-hop’s inherent political undertones are brought to the mainstream.

John Brueggemann

SO 328R: Social Movements and Collective Action

An exploration of the causes and consequences of social movements and episodes of collective action. Many people are dissatisfied with existing economic, political, or social arrangements, yet relatively few individuals attempt to bring about social change by participating in organized social protest. What is it that differentiates those who participate from those who do not? This course approaches this central question from a variety of theoretical perspectives. Movements as diverse as those for civil rights and the environment will be examined. Prerequisites: one sociology gateway course (SO 101 or SO 201 or SO 202 or SO 203 or SO 204) and one additional sociology course.

Gwen D’Arcangelis

GW 321: Feminist Science Studies/Gender, Race, and Science

How have scientific disciplines such as biology or engineering defined and shaped gender and race? In what ways can science reinforce, or alternatively, challenge sexism and racism? Drawing primarily on feminist science studies scholarship and feminist science fiction, this course will critically examine practices of science and technology and the way they shape and are shaped by larger political, cultural and social contexts. We will begin with the assumption that science and technology are not neutral or natural phenomenon, but rather cultural and social constructs. That is, science and technology are shaped by human interests, and embedded in metaphors and narratives which represent deep cultural values and assumptions that need to be examined. In this course we explore key socio-political questions about the role of science and technology in society such as: Why do scientists continue to look for sex differences in the brain? What does DNA ancestry testing really tell us about our racial identity? Why don’t we have a male birth control pill? How can feminist science fiction help us to imagine and create new approaches to science and technology that will better serve the lives of marginalized peoples?

Kristie Ford

SO 317 Femininity, Beauty, and the Black Female Body

An analysis of femininity, beauty, and the black female body; how black women are depicted within U.S. social structures; and how these images have changed over time. Students will explore these issues to develop an appreciation for the multi-dimensional and complex nature of the issues underlying constructions of black womanhood. Topics of examination include body politics, colorism, and sexual justice.

Winston Grady-Willis

BST 101: Introduction to Black Studies

Introduction to the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary field of Black Studies, providing students with an intellectual framework for contemplating global Black experiences historically and contemporarily.  The course begins by placing Black Studies in context, noting its significance as part of the Black Power phase of a larger struggle for African American human rights.  From there, the course examines the continent of Africa as the birthplace of humanity and site of diverse and complex cultures.  Subsequent weeks will address self-determination and resistance in the African, Caribbean, and U.S. contexts as well as the importance of institutional racism.  The course also interrogates intraracial issues such as socioeconomic class, gender, sexuality and skin color. Fulfills cultural diversity requirement.

Jenny Mueller

SO 219C: Race and Power

An analysis of U.S. race relations. How do people learn what it means to be “black” or “white” within U.S. society? How will the changing demographics of the U.S. affect the traditional black-white approach to race relations? How is race complicated by ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and other social identities? Students explore these questions by examining how race is constructed and reproduced within hierarchical structures of power and privilege, including educational inequalities, immigration policies, interracial relationships, and depictions of race in popular culture.

Jenny Mueller and Lisa Grady-Willis

IG/SO 361 - Racial Identities: Theory and Praxis

An integration of sociological theory and praxis in a seminar that prepares students to facilitate dialogues on race. What factors hinder meaningful discourse about race?  What skills promote interracial communication? How can we learn to engage more effectively in dialogue about race, power, and privilege in the United States? Through readings in racial identity theory, reflective and analytic writing, and experiential practice of dialogic communication skills, students learn to facilitate dialogues on controversial race-related topics, such as affirmative action, immigration reform, and interracial relationships.    

Tammy Owens

AM 351D: Black Girlhood Studies

Black Girlhood Studies explores representations and narratives of black girlhood in American culture from the nineteenth century to the contemporary moment. Students will analyze black girlhood and the stories of black girls through a diverse collection of sources including young adult literature, personal narratives, social media, dance, music, archives, and recent scholarship in Black Girlhood Studies. Students will examine topics such as the racialization of girlhood in America, the criminalization of black girls, sexual literacy, youth activism, and Afrofuturism.

AM 264: African-American Experience

African-American Experience explores the role African Americans have played in the history of the nation, including African-American contributions to, and exclusions from, various aspects of a "democratic" American society. Students will examine the critical issues and periods relevant to the African-American struggle toward freedom and equality. Topics include slavery, emancipation, and Reconstruction; the woman's era; the age of Jim Crow and the new Negro; the civil rights movement; and the post-reform period. Primary and secondary sources include narratives, documents, photographs, and films. (Designated a Cultural Diversity course; fulfills social sciences requirement; fulfills humanistic inquiry.)

Mason Stokes

EN 235: Writing Black/Writing Back

A survey of African American literature from the 1700s to the present. We will examine the uneasy relationship between “race” and writing, with a particular focus on how representations of gender and sexuality participate in a literary construction of race. Though this course examines African American literary self representations, we will keep in mind how these representations respond to and interact with the “majority culture’s” efforts to define race in a different set of terms. We will focus throughout on literature as a site where this struggle over definition takes place—where African American writers have reappropriated and revised words and ideas that had been used to exclude them from both American literary history and America itself. 

As a Bridge Experience course, EN 235 asks students to reflect upon their own positions in their respective communities and on campus and to connect their study of power, justice, and identity to other areas of their education, as well as to the world beyond the classroom. Toward that end, students will work in pairs to create a podcast that explores how one of the texts on the syllabus might help us think about power, justice, and identity in our current moment. These podcasts will be made available to the larger Skidmore community.