Black Studies Minor

Overview

Examine the social construction of racial differences and their relation to the perpetuation of racism and racial domination. A key component of this minor is an investigation of the meanings and dimensions of blackness that reverberate from slavery and colonialism to the persistent political, social, and cultural implications in the 21st century. The minor emphasizes how blackness intersects with other ethnic identities and how it is shaped by gender, sexuality, and economic inequities. The aim is to refine and advance students’ knowledge of black life-worlds and experiences across the globe.

Notes about this minor:

  • Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.
  • Notations may appear in the curriculum chart below outlining pre-requisites, co-requisites, and other curriculum requirements (see footnotes).

The plan code for Black Studies Minor is BLACKST-MN.

Curriculum for Black Studies Minor

Course
Required Course
Choose at least one of the following:
   COMM-306
   Rhetoric Of Race Relations
Rhetoric of Race Relations examines the history of the struggle for freedom and equality for blacks in American society. This course traces the history and rhetoric of key spokespersons from the pre-Civil War period to the 20th century as evidenced in texts of selected public speeches and reactions to them. Lecture 3 (Fall Or Spring).
   HIST-245
   American Slavery and Freedom
This class will survey the history of slavery and freedom in the United States from the establishment of global slave systems in the colonial period through emancipation movements during the Civil War era. Students will examine key economic, political, and social issues (from the development of slave labor systems to strategies of resistance among enslaved peoples) as well as the meaning of black freedom struggles during key eras (such as the American Revolutionary era and Civil War). Lecture 3 (Fall).
   SOCI-210
   Black America-Culture & HipHop
This course examines the historical and contemporary conditions of Blacks in the U.S. We will explore African American culture as it is perceived by many African-Americans, and consider theoretical concepts related to immigration and the segmented assimilation of Black immigrant groups coming into the U.S. We will also address identity politics as it relates to race, class, and gender, oppression, as well as the art products that originate in Black communities. A particular emphasis will be placed on Hip Hop music, dance, and style as an expression of Black culture, identity, activism, and social influence (both nationally and globally). Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Electives*†
Choose four of the following:
   ANTH-225
   Globalizing Africa
This course introduces students to processes of interconnection, local, regional, national, and global, that have altered and continue to impact life in Africa, taking into account the enormous impact of Africans on one another and on those of us living outside of the continent. In the course, we will focus on how past, present, and anticipated future events in African movements of people, ideas, and things, across time and space effect the reception of new events. We will pay particularly close attention to how the relationships of time and space are formulated and understood by Africans in the present. While the historical past is never completed, but continuous in the present, its diverse contours lead to differently remembered, embodied, and enacted expressions. We will evaluate these diverse expressions in pre-colonial, colonial, and neo-colonial encounters as they have changed ideas of self and other, political philosophies and political economic systems, genders and sexualities, generational relations, religions, expressive arts, violence, and health on the African continent and around the globe. Lecture 3 (Fall Or Spring).
   ANTH-246
   Gender and Health
This course examines connections between gender and health that are both conceptual and empirical. Students will explore the causes of gender-based differences in health outcomes through case studies of sexual and reproductive rights, HIV/AIDS epidemics and violence. Students will also examine global gender and health trends. The course concludes with an examination of gender inequity in health care and policy implications of these inequities. Lecture 3 (Annual).
   ANTH-310
   African Film
This course considers the diversity, contours and synergies of African films and filmmaking, traversing the continent to view films from Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Egypt and Mali. Though much scholarship has focused on influential African filmmakers and nationally located cinemas, the straight-to-video systems of the 1980s and 1990s had a profound impact on African films and filmmaking. Nollywood and other video film industries began to dominate film production and transnational mobility, influencing new film technologies and industries, accessibility and addressability across the globe. Topics in this course include the influence of African film directors on filmmaking, and critical developments in major industries; Nollywood and beyond, and the cultural aesthetics, politics and economics that affect their global mobility and popular appeal; postcolonial identities and power; music and oral traditions of storytelling; didactic, post-colonial cinema with moral, political missions vs. ‘arthouse’ approaches; Afrofuturist and speculative cinema; channels such as African Magic that are shown in more than 50 African countries; and the effects of video streaming on global stardom and popularity. Students will learn about diverse African films and approaches to filmmaking, and the vibrant people and creative cultures that make up these film industries. Lecture 3 (Fall Or Spring).
   ANTH-335
   Culture and Politics in Latin America
This course introduces cultures of Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean in the context of political and economic forces that have shaped them. We examine Spanish and Portuguese colonialism and its modern-day legacies, including ethnic inequalities, economic vulnerability, and social unrest. We look at how art, music, and literature have engaged critically with the forces of fascism, revolution, socialism, dictatorship, and neo-colonialism. We consider indigenous activism, religious diversity, changing experiences and expectations of women and men, rebellion and revolution, impacts of and creative responses to globalization, and Latinos in the U.S. Lecture 3 (Fa/sp/su).
   ANTH-345
   Genocide and Transitional Justice
The destruction and survival of societies hinges on collective ideas of identity. In times of social stress, identities—whether racial, ethnic, religious or national—become critical “sites” of conflict over the sovereignty of nation-states, and the legitimacy of social, cultural practices. When ideas fail to incorporate people, essentialist categories of identity, historical grievances, and accounts of extreme violence become interrelated, potent sources of destruction. Slavery and exclusive ownership of resources leave people starving or living in perilously polluted environments. Global cultural economies threaten local systems and self-representation. In this course, we will take critical, anthropological approaches to studies of ethnocide, genocide and transitional justice. Students will assess the destruction and survival of societies, from the 19th century slaughter of Native Americans and Amazonian Indians to more recent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, the Sudan, Iraq, Myanmar, Bangladesh and China. Students will consider similarities and differences in the social experiences of mass violence, and the ethics of protecting particular identity-based groups, and not others, in international, national and local laws. Students will become familiar with multiple inter-related justice systems, for instance, the International Criminal Court, national and United Nations-backed tribunals, and local justice systems such as the Rwandan Gacaca courts. Recent developments in legal ethics and international law will enable students to see how public sentiments, legal advocacy and other social, political processes facilitate enhanced protections for the world’s most vulnerable people. Lecture 3 (Fall Or Spring).
   ANTH-361
   Digitizing People
Much of the knowledge of our social worlds has been digitized. This course explores how social technologies shape our relationships, personal lives, and sense of self. The metric manufacture of diversity has produced new forms of population management and inequality. Our biographic histories as citizens, consumers, workers/professionals, parents, lovers, and social media users are collected as data-bites and assessed in metric terms, thereby forging new sets of identities. The transformation of people into numerical entities is an act of statistical objectification. This process frames the creation of social and racial typologies, and is well demonstrated by the US census. Students will investigate the formation of racial, ethnic, and gender identities in the context of the accelerated desire to digitize humanity. Lecture 3 (Annual).
   ANTH-410
   Global Cities
This course examines the impact of global dynamics on cities from the early 20th century to the present. By tracing urban formations from metropolis to global city, emphasis will be placed on the making of identities, communities, and citizens in the architectural spaces, cultural places, ethnic zones, and media traces of urban life in the context of globalization. Lecture 3 (Fall Or Spring).
   ANTH-430
   Visual Anthropology
We see others as we imagine them to be, in terms of our values, not as they see themselves. This course examines ways in which we understand and represent the reality of others through visual media, across the boundaries of culture, gender, and race. It considers how and why visual media can be used to represent or to distort the world around us. Pictorial media, in particular ethnographic film and photography, are analyzed to document the ways in which indigenous and native peoples in different parts of the world have been represented and imagined by anthropologists and western popular culture. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   COMM-306
   Rhetoric Of Race Relations
Rhetoric of Race Relations examines the history of the struggle for freedom and equality for blacks in American society. This course traces the history and rhetoric of key spokespersons from the pre-Civil War period to the 20th century as evidenced in texts of selected public speeches and reactions to them. Lecture 3 (Fall Or Spring).
   CRIM-285
   Minority Groups and the Criminal Justice System
This course will investigate the roles played by racial minorities- African-Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans-- at each level of the criminal justice system in the United States of America and globally. The experience of African Americans will be emphasized since this group has been the subject of more extensive research by criminologists and criminal justice practitioners. (Prerequisites: CRIM-110 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
   ENGL-316
   Global Literature‡
This course presents a study of global literature by engaging in critically informed analysis of texts from different geographical regions or cultural perspectives. Students will discover new modes for thinking about what global literature is, and how globalizing impulses have changed and shaped our world. One of the goals of the class is to analyze and discuss the works in their respective socio-historical contexts, with a special focus on the theme of encounter or contact zones. The impact of various factors such as migration, nationality, class, race, gender, generation, and religion will also be taken into consideration. The course can be repeated up to two times, for 6 semester credit hours, as long as the topics are different. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   ENGL-413
   African American Literature
Students will explore the landscape of African-American literature, and learn of its development throughout the 19th and/or 20th Centuries. From Phyllis Wheatley, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ida B. Wells to Toni Morrison, from the Harlem Renaissance, and the Black Arts Movements of the 1960s to Hip-Hop this course will explore African-American writers who inspired a civil rights and cultural revolution. Through writing, reading and research, they will grow to understand how, despite legal limits on freedom and social participation imposed because of their color in American society, blacks created styles of verbal and written expressions unique within the American experience and contributed to the shape, growth and development of the nation's literary character. (Prerequisites: ENGL-150 or completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
   ENGL-414
   Women and Gender in Literature and Media‡
This variable topic course examines one or more themes, figures, movements, or issues associated with the representation of women and gender in literature and media, and/or associated with the historical, cultural, and theoretical questions provoked by women as producers and consumers of media and texts. The topic for the course is chosen by the instructor, announced in the course subtitle, and developed in the syllabus. The course can be taken multiple times provided that the topic being studied has changed. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   FNRT-203
   American Popular & Rock Music
This course examines the history and elements of popular and rock music in the United States from the end of the 19th century to current times. Emphasis will be placed on the music that was written and performed after WWII. Students will be introduced to various styles of this genre as well as an introduction to those musical elements necessary to define a rudimentary analysis of the music. Among the composers and performers to be studied are early Minstrel performers, Louis Armstrong, Scott Joplin, George Gershwin, Blues musicians, Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, R and B musicians, country and western, Elvis Presley, Motown, Ray Charles, folk, Jimi Hendrix, disco, punk, metal, grunge, and pop. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   FNRT-322
   Survey of Jazz
This course will survey the development of American jazz music, highlighting representative composers and performers and significant works. Particular attention will be drawn to the multi-racial influences on the creation of jazz music and its relationship to American culture as a whole. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   HIST-210
   Culture and Politics in Urban Africa
With a focus on African societies, we examine the diverse cultures of African peoples in the context of political and economic forces that have shaped their lives in the past and the present. Topics include European colonialism and its modern-day legacies, ethnic inequalities, economic vulnerability, labor migration, urbanism, and social unrest. We look at how art, music, oral traditions, and literatures have engaged critically with the forces of political change and neo-colonialism. We consider political activism, religious diversity, changing experiences and expectations of women and men, rebellion and revolution, impacts of and creative responses to globalization, and cultural transformations of African diasporas in the U.S and elsewhere. Lecture 3 (Fall Or Spring).
   HIST-245
   American Slavery and Freedom
This class will survey the history of slavery and freedom in the United States from the establishment of global slave systems in the colonial period through emancipation movements during the Civil War era. Students will examine key economic, political, and social issues (from the development of slave labor systems to strategies of resistance among enslaved peoples) as well as the meaning of black freedom struggles during key eras (such as the American Revolutionary era and Civil War). Lecture 3 (Fall).
   INGS-210
   Culture and Politics in Urban Africa
With a focus on African societies, we examine the diverse cultures of African peoples in the context of political and economic forces that have shaped their lives in the past and the present. Topics include European colonialism and its modern-day legacies, ethnic inequalities, economic vulnerability, labor migration, urbanism, and social unrest. We look at how art, music, oral traditions, and literatures have engaged critically with the forces of political change and neo-colonialism. We consider political activism, religious diversity, changing experiences and expectations of women and men, rebellion and revolution, impacts of and creative responses to globalization, and cultural transformations of African diasporas in the U.S and elsewhere. Lecture 3 .
    MLSP-352
   Caribbean Cinema
This course provides an introduction to Hispanic Caribbean culture through cinema studies. We will study the role of film in Hispanic Caribbean societies as well as the unique artistic and technical achievements and obstacles of Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican filmmakers. Topics covered include: The Basics of Film Analysis; An Introduction to Caribbean Film History; The Social Context of the Hispanic Caribbean Film Industry; Art and Revolution; Race, Ethnicity, and Religion; Occupation, Dictatorship, and War; Gender, Sexuality and Exile; Transnationalism and Migration, and Hispanic Caribbean Film in a Global Context. This course will take a cultural studies approach to the study of film as a social practice. Weekly films (1.5-2 hours in length) must be watched outside of class hours. All films with dialog have English subtitles. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   PRFL-324
   African American Playwrights
A historical survey of African American playwrights and the significant moments, topics, and themes that informed their work from the late 1800’s to the early 21st century. Plays by American African Diaspora playwrights will be studied and will include works by Ira Aldridge, Langston Hughes, Lorraine Hansberry, Amiri Baraka, Lynn Nottage, August Wilson, George C. Wolfe, Ed Bullins, Anna Deavere Smith, and Ntozake Shange. The varied types of drama, styles and modes of theatre production, and contributions of actors, directors, scenographers, theorists, musicians, and critics provide a continuous context for this study of America’s developing theatre arts. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   SOCI-210
   Black America-Culture & HipHop
This course examines the historical and contemporary conditions of Blacks in the U.S. We will explore African American culture as it is perceived by many African-Americans, and consider theoretical concepts related to immigration and the segmented assimilation of Black immigrant groups coming into the U.S. We will also address identity politics as it relates to race, class, and gender, oppression, as well as the art products that originate in Black communities. A particular emphasis will be placed on Hip Hop music, dance, and style as an expression of Black culture, identity, activism, and social influence (both nationally and globally). Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   SOCI-220
   Minority Group Relations
The course will provide a context in which to examine the multiple and contradictory social relations of domination, subordination, resistance, and empowerment. The kinds of questions we will explore focus on how power, knowledge, meaning, and cultural representation are organized. We will analyze a variety of political and ideological themes which bear upon the formation of minority group relations, their identity and how these themes complicate the processes by which people construct their understanding of the nation, world, of others, and themselves. Through reflection on theoretical texts and fictional works, as well as film and other popular media, we will consider for ourselves how culture is differently represented and signified, and how the politics of understanding and misunderstanding minority relations work through practices within and outside cultural institutions. Lecture 3 (Fa/sp/su).
   SOCI-246
   Gender and Health
This course examines connections between gender and health that are both conceptual and empirical. Students will explore the causes of gender-based differences in health outcomes through case studies of sexual and reproductive rights, HIV/AIDS epidemics and violence. Students will also examine global gender and health trends. The course concludes with an examination of gender inequity in health care and policy implications of these inequities. Lecture 3 (Annual).
   SOCI-330
   Urban (In)Justice
With a focus on forms of (in)justice in urban communities worldwide, we investigate the impact of race, class, and gender and related systems of unequal power relations on perpetuating patterns of social, political, economic, and environmental oppression (policing, hunger, pollution, violence, disease). How do ways of governing urban populations affect the lives of inner city residents and their demands for justice when attempting to navigate the everyday urban worlds? Specific course topics include both historical and contemporary perspectives on urban (in)justice locally, in Rochester NY, and nationally, across the U.S., and in a global comparative framework. Thereby the effects of crime, violence, and inequality on people in urban neighborhoods are also examined among and within nations. By the end of the semester, students should be able to identify and explain various theories that seek to explain (in)justice patterns in the urban context at local, national and global levels. Lecture 3 (Fall Or Spring).
   SOCI-345
   Urban Poverty
Urban poverty has been recognized as a persistent problem in the United States since the middle of the last century. In many cities, poverty is associated with high levels of teenage pregnancy, low levels of employment, limited educational attainment, chronic community-based health problems, and high levels of crime. This course examines causes, consequences, and proposed policy solutions to urban poverty. Special emphasis will be paid to U.S. urban poverty. Lecture 3 (Fall Or Spring).
   SOCI-361
   Digitizing People
Much of the knowledge of our social worlds has been digitized. This course explores how social technologies shape our relationships, personal lives, and sense of self. The metric manufacture of diversity has produced new forms of population management and inequality. Our biographic histories as citizens, consumers, workers/professionals, parents, lovers, and social media users are collected as data-bites and assessed in metric terms, thereby forging new sets of identities. The transformation of people into numerical entities is an act of statistical objectification. This process frames the creation of social and racial typologies, and is well demonstrated by the US census. Students will investigate the formation of racial, ethnic, and gender identities in the context of the accelerated desire to digitize humanity. Lecture 3 (Annual).

* At least two courses must be at the 300-level or above.

† Students must complete elective courses from at least two different disciplines.

‡ This course may be used when the topic is Caribbean Literature or Black Studies related.