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Minor in African American/African Diaspora Studies (ADS)
Department for the Study of Culture and Society
Spring 2021 Courses

ENG 65: Intro to African American Literature (foundation course)

This course introduces students to issues in African American studies. It is a multidisciplinary course in which key statements by African Americans--including scholarly and artistic statements--are studied very closely. The goal is not only to acquaint students with a chronology of texts and their authors, but also to view African American literature both independently and in the context of cultural, intellectual and political histories of people of color in the United States.

HIST 15 Post-WWII Civil Rights Movements (elective)

Post-WWII Civil Rights Movements is an introductory-level course designed to introduce students to the history of the fight for civil rights in the United States after WWII. The main focus of the course will be on the struggle for African American civil rights, but it will also encompass the struggles of women, Latinos, American Indians, LGBTQ, the disabled, and the elderly to achieve the civil rights that are granted to them by the Constitution but which in practice have often been denied them. As such, we will analyze what civil rights are, why they matter, and why the struggle continues.

HIST 15: African American History since 1867 (foundation course)

This survey traces the history of African Americans in the United States from the Reconstruction period until the Black Lives Movement. It uses readings, class lectures, popular media and classroom discussions to offer a broad, yet critical, introduction to major trends in African American history. We will discuss the topics of emancipation, Jim Crow segregation, racial violence, Black culture, the Civil Rights Movement, popular culture, and the contemporary experience. We will pay particular interest to the various ways African Americans helped shaped America; as well as understanding how the intersections of race, power, gender, region, and class shaped the African American experience.

HIST 194 African American History as Public History (elective)

The course considers the ways in which museums, historic sites, films, children’s books, public school lesson plans, and the broader public have interpreted African American history since the late 19th century. It also highlights how Black people have collected, exhibited, and preserved their own history. Students will learn the core themes of Pubic History such as shared authority, memory, ethical frameworks, and the practice of history in public spaces, all while engaging with local historic sites in Des Moines.

SCSS 156: Representing Race: Life History Research (foundation course)

This research-design course will introduce students to the interviewing methods associated with life history research, as well as the politics of representation and racialization involved in the writing and filming of people’s lives and identities. The theoretical and methological issues introduced will focus on race and its intersections with gender, class, disability, sexuality, and other categories of social identity. Questions of race and representation in media will be critically analyzed to explore the multiple ways media shapes lived experience. Students will learn to critically analyze ways that race and its intersections function as social categories of “difference” that both organize and regulate structural inequality, and fuel public narratives justifying such inequalities. Students will be expected to conduct life history research as part of a group.

SCSS 167: Sociology of the African American Experience (foundation course)

This course is a survey of the sociohistorical and cultural factors related to the experience of African Americans in the United States. The course will examine social institutions of the United States and how African American interact with and in these institutions. In addition, subcultures established by and for African Americans will be explored. Sociological theories and concepts will be applied to understand these phenomena. 

SCSA 150: African Diaspora (elective)

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of African Diaspora Studies from an anthropological perspective.  This course begins by critically assessing the theorization of the concept of Diaspora in dialogue with anthropological debates on identity, globalization, and transnational belonging.  This will be followed by an historical examination of colonialism, modernity and the ensuing dynamic relationship between continental Africa and the Diaspora.   Students will then engage with ethnographic studies that explore the political economic, social and semiotic realities of communities in different global contexts. 

WLC 150: Introduction to African Diaspora Studies (core)

This course examines the varied experience of the African diaspora in the United States. It is an interdisciplinary review of the different paths of past and recent waves of African immigrants from the causes of their migration to the social, cultural, and economic adaptation in the fabric of the United States. We will map out the heterogeneous mosaic of “People of African descent” in America and discuss how they adjust, integrate, assimilate, resist, and adapt to the many forces that affect their lives. We shall pay special attention to identity formation, ethnic culture and community challenges and successes. We will also discuss the historical links between Africa and America, as well as the contemporary American perceptions and misperceptions towards Africa.


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