The interdisciplinary minor in black studies examines the social construction of racial differences and its 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 program code for Black Studies Minor is BLACKST-MN.
This course will describe the historical and contemporary conditions that have given rise to the distinctive cultural orientation of African Americans in the United States. Students will be provided with an explication of African American culture as it is perceived by the majority of African Americans. Furthermore, the course will outline an operational articulation of the African American experience, and analyze the characterological responses that result from it.
Choose four of the following:
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.
African Film and Popular Culture
Popular culture has a political dimension. Created and consumed by ordinary people, African popular cultures, including film and popular cinema, are linked to political processes as forms of expression, perspective, and critique. As a result of accessible digital formats for producing and distributing films and other popular genres, African film and cinema is literally exploding onto the global scene, dynamically affecting intercultural communication and African economies. Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry, for instance, is now the third largest film producer in the world, competing with Hollywood and Bollywood for audiences and market share. This course introduces students to African film as a genre of popular culture and explores the political contexts in which it is forged. Throughout the semester, we consider the diversity and complexity of African film as a creative genre and engage in debates about forms of intercultural communication that challenge contemporary African artists and consumers. By the end of the course, students will have gained an understanding of the enormous impact of popular cultures through which many Africans express political sentiments that might otherwise be suppressed.
Genocide and Post-Conflict Justice
The destruction and survival of societies often hinges upon the ideas and the social, cultural constructions of identity and belonging. When ideas fail to incorporate people, essentialist categories of identity, historical memory, 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. Globalizing cultural economies threaten local systems and self-representation. Group identities may be sites of crises within nation-states and global political, economic, and cultural processes. In this course, we will take critical, anthropological approaches to studies of ethnocide, genocide, and post-conflict justice. Students will use critical, anthropological approaches to assess ethnocides and genocides from the 19th century forced assimilation and slaughter of Native Americans and Amazonian Indians to more recent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and the Sudan, to understand the impact of globalization on techniques and technologies of genocides, the legal, moral/personal responsibility for genocides, media representations of genocides, and the affects of cultural, historical memory and social, global inequities upon future genocides. Students will use anthropological perspectives on genocide to assess post-conflict concepts of justice, reconstruction and reconciliation and local-global debates about their cultural resonance and effectiveness.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sounds of Protest
This course is designed to explore the variety of ways music has served as commentary on and/or symbolic representation of social circumstances and events in America and throughout the world, historically and in the present. Students will research, listen to, analyze, and discuss music representing a variety of genres, styles, and cultures, ranging from various forms of European and American folk, popular, and concert music to selected non-western music. Topics will include race, gender, sexuality, economics, class, war, and politics, among others.
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).
Culture and Politics in Urban Africa
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.
African American Playwrights
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.
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.
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.
* 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.