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Course Catalog

Black Studies

A discipline that examines and critiques the experience of Africans and peoples of African descent, Black Studies emerged on college campuses in the midst of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the 1960s and has been a central force in reshaping higher learning in the United States. Representing a strong and continuous intellectual presence in the academy, Black Studies challenges all students to explore issues of identity and subject formation, of race and difference; to understand the collective experience of black people in today's world; to develop the ability to examine, analyze and interpret these experiences within the context of liberal learning. Involving black people throughout the world and over time, Black Studies is the only discipline that situates black people at the center of study and offers an intellectual tool without seeking intellectual hegemony. Black Studies at DePauw is conceived as a multidisciplinary study of the collective experience of Africa and the African Diaspora. As an intellectual pursuit attuned to the ways in which nation, race, social class, ethnicity and gender inform relations, Black Studies describes, represents, critiques and interrogates the multiple and shifting historical, cultural, social and political meanings of blackness, focusing on the disaporan societies, cultures and people of the United States, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.


Requirements for a major

Black Studies

Total courses required Ten
Core courses BLST 100, BLST 240, BLST 281, BLST 480
Other required courses In addition to the four core courses, majors must choose six electives with at least one course from each of the following three fields of study: African, African American, and Afro-Latin/Caribbean. Elective courses include: ANTH 271, ANTH 352, EDUC 300, ENG 263, HIST 105, HIST 109, HIST 110, HIST 256, HIST 257, HIST 275, HIST 355, HIST 356, HIST 367, POLS 320, POLS 323, POLS 352, REL 269, SOC 237, SOC 322, SOC 329, or other courses approved by the director.
Number 300 and 400 level courses Four
Senior requirement and capstone experience The senior requirement consists of the completion of the Black Studies Senior Project (which counts as one of the upper-level courses). Students work with the director of Black Studies or a faculty member who teaches in the program to complete a major project or paper that focuses on some aspect of the Black experience. Students will enter into a formal contract. The contract will define the parameters of the study, including the general terms and conditions to be met by way of completing the project. Distribution of the signed contract will be as follows: 1 copy to be kept by the supervisor of the thesis/project, 1 by the student, and 1 by the Black Studies director. The project is to be completed within the semester in which it is offered (1 course) and so designed so that the director or the supervising faculty in consultation with the director, having determined that the student has completed the written part of the project with minimum grade of C-, will arrange for the student to defend the thesis before a committee of Black Studies faculty, made up of at least 4 persons, two of whom shall be the Director of Black Studies and the thesis faculty supervisor, plus two to three other faculty members who teach in the Black Studies program. Prior to the defense, the student's project will be circulated to members of the defense panel. The student will be required to do a 15-20 minute presentation on the thesis/project after which members of the panel will ask him/her questions on the thesis/project. Following the question and answer period, the student will be asked to leave the room. The defense panel will then adjudicate whether or not the student passed the defense. A simple pass/fail grade is required for successful completion of the defense. On the basis of the student's performance in the defense, the panel will decide on the student's overall grade, including the written part, for the senior project. The student is then invited to return to the room and informed as to whether s/he has passed the defense and informed of the overall grade for the project. The director then informs the Registrar's office of the final grade.
Writing in the Major The Black Studies major includes courses drawn from both the humanities and the social sciences. BLST 240, Readings in the Literature of the Black Diaspora, provides students with the skills to understand the black experience through literary works by black writers from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Writing in BLST 240 consists mainly of analytical papers and revisions of some of those papers. It may also include response papers, in-class writing assignments, journal entries, as well as final examinations that require short answers and short essays.

BLST 281, Africa and the Black Diaspora, a core course in the social sciences, explores the historical foundations and the development of Black life in Africa and its later diffusion in the Black Diaspora to the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America, and elsewhere. Students read a wide variety of secondary sources and/or primary historical texts and write two papers of at least six pages each that assess a variety of course readings to explore themes in the Black experience such as the slave trade, freedom struggles, or reconnections to Africa. Specific writing and thinking skills developed in these assignments include understanding the historical context of the Black experience in specific times and places; comparative analysis of several texts or events; and improving clarity of argument, organization, and expression. Other writing assignments may include response papers, in-class writing assignments, and journal entries in addition to essay-based texts and final examinations.


Requirements for a minor

Black Studies

Total courses required Five
Core courses BLST 100
Other required courses Three of the five courses should be outside a student's major. At least one course from two of the three following geographic areas is required: African, African American, Afro-Latin/Caribbean.
Number 300 and 400 level courses One

Courses in Black Studies

BLST 100

Introduction to Black Studies

Designed as the gateway to Black Studies, this course is an interdisciplinary exploration of the collective experience of blacks in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States. The course seeks to provide students an intellectual framework for engagement in a process of self-discovery and for achieving a more global understanding of the unique ways in which Africans and peoples of African descent have constituted our world. The course, which introduces important theoretical approaches and builds critical and analytical skills, provides an overview of the historical, socio-economic and cultural dynamics of black life.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

BLST 197

First -Year Seminar

A seminar focused on a theme in Black Studies Open only to first-year students.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

BLST 240

Readings in Literatures of the Black Diaspora

This course explores the literary expressions of Africans and peoples of African descent as they are found in the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States. Works by such writers as Achebe, Ngugi, Kincaid, Walcott, Guillen, Morejon, Reed and Morrison may be included. Cross-listed with ENG 255.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

BLST 281

History of the Black Atlantic

An exploration of the historical foundations and the development of black life in Africa and its later diffusion in the Black Diaspora. Its purview will range from pre-colonial dynamics to the more contemporary manifestations of global Black History in North America, Europe, the Caribbean, Central America, Latin America and Melanesia. Topics may include: African cultures before European contact, the slave trade and its impact on Africa and the Atlantic economy, the middle passage, internal migration in Africa and case studies of the creation of diasporic communities and cultures. Cross-listed with HIST 281.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

BLST 290

Topics in Black Studies

This course explores some issue, theme or period related to Black Studies. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1/2-1 course

BLST 390

Advanced Topics in Black Studies

An interdisciplinary study of some significant issue, theme or period relevant to Black Studies. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1/2-1 course

BLST 480

Senior Project

Students work with the director of Black Studies or a faculty member who teaches in the program to complete a major project or paper that focuses on some aspect of the black experience.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

BLST 490

Independent Study

An in-depth directed study under the guidance of a faculty member associated with the Black Studies program, using Black Studies' methodologies and scholarship.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1/2-1 course

Courses in Literature

ENG 263

African-American Literature

A study of African-American writing, including biographies, essays and polemics as well as drama, fiction and poetry.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

Courses in History

HIST 109

African Civilizations

The precolonial and colonial history of Africa from 1500 to 1945: the early socioeconomic and political organization of African society; problems of state formation; organization of an acephalous society and African production and trade; the impact of capital on the African formation as seen in the slave trade; and the era of legitimate commerce and early capitalist penetration.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

HIST 110

Modern Africa

Africa since 1945: the diverse socioeconomic and political concerns of a mature colonialism on the eve of decolonization; the many contradictions of a colonialism caught up in a wind of change, concession-prone in some areas, stolidly uncompromising in others; political independence and the policies it produced; and the path to Africa's present state of dependency and political instability.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

HIST 256

African Cultures

A review of cultural change in various African societies from earliest times to present. African society is first examined in the primordial state and then reviewed against the coming of Islam, Christianity and Western cultural penetration; a discussion of the current prevalence of cultural syncretism and plurality in African cultures.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

HIST 257

Ethnicity and Conflict in South Africa

The history of South Africa from the 17th century to the present; its relations with neighboring communities; the coming of white settlers; African subjugation and the rise of apartheid; local and foreign reaction to the apartheid state; the process of decolonization; and ethnic and class cleavages in post-Apartheid society.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

HIST 275

African American History

A survey of the black experience in the United States focusing on ways African Americans reacted individually and collectively to their condition and how they have contributed to the development of the United States.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

HIST 281

History of the Black Atlantic

An exploration of the historical foundations and the development of Black life in Africa and its later diffusion in the Black Diaspora. Its purview will range from pre-colonial dynamics to the more contemporary manifestations of global Black history in North America, Europe, the Caribbean, Central America, Latin America and Melanesia. Topics include: African cultures before European contact, the slave trade and its impact on Africa and the Atlantic economy, the middle passage, internal migration in Africa and case studies of the creation of Diasporic communities and cultures.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

HIST 355

African Nationalism, 1890-1985

A survey of African resistance to European imperialism with emphasis on the national peculiarities of the European penetration, the experience of Settler and non-Settler Africa, the personnel and methodology of proto-nationalist and nationalist resistance, and the general outcome of these efforts.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

HIST 356

African Slavery

A review of the processes of incorporation into slavery; slaves in production and exchange; the resistance history of slavery; the gender implications of the slave state; slaves and social mobility, interdependence and the manipulations of class; and the dynamics of manumission and abolition.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

HIST 364

Civil War and Reconstruction

The causes, impact and consequences of the Civil War: origins of sectional conflict, the secession crisis, emancipation, Reconstruction policies, political and military leadership, the impact of events on civilians and soldiers and long-term effects of this period on American society and political institutions.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

HIST 367

The Civil Rights Movement

The black-led freedom movement in the South from the end of World War II to the late 1960s. Prerequisites: HIST 265, HIST 275 or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
HIST 265, HIST 275 or permission of instructor 1 course

Courses in Political Science

POLS 220

African American Politics

This course focuses on how the continuing struggle for Black political empowerment has helped influence and shape the current African American political community. An interdisciplinary approach incorporating economics, history and sociology will be used to gain an overall understanding of the African American community and its critical influence upon the American political system.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

POLS 323

The Politics of Race

This course explores the centrality and significance of race in the modern American political system. The course covers, but is not limited to, the role of race in electoral politics, urban politics, the political and social attitudes of Americans and the debates about the scope and function of the federal government.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 352

Politics of Developing Nations

An introduction to the similarities and unifying characteristics of heterogeneous developing nations. Emphasis on diversities to be found in different regions of the Third World. The focus is on issues and problems and not countries and regions, though case studies are used for illustrative purposes. The course covers theories and approaches to the study of the Third World; changes in the Third World (political, economic, governmental and regime); contemporary issues (hunger and famine, multinationals, foreign debt and the New International Economic Order); and Third World ideologies and movements (nonalignment, developmental socialism, anti-Americanism and Islamic revivalism).

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

Courses in Religious Studies

REL 267

Caribbean Religions and Culture

An exploration of the relationship between Caribbean religious traditions and culture in the development of Caribbean identity and nationhood. It focuses on how the major world religions were modified through the encounter between peoples of Amerindian, African, European and Asian descent. Further, it studies the impact of slavery, emigration, colonialism, and globalization on the emergence of indigenous Caribbean religious traditions (Vodun, Santeria, Rastafari).

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

REL 269

Liberation Theology

An examination of the interaction between Western religious traditions and the foremost liberation movements: Third-World, black, gay and women's liberation.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

REL 360

Bob Marley, Caribbean Religion and Culture

This course is a close study and analysis of the religious core and communicative rationality in Bob Marley's life and music. It develops the intersections between Caribbean religion and culture based on Marley's affiliation to Rastafari.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

Courses in Anthropology

ANTH 271

African Cultures

In this course, students examine the cultural, political, economic, psychological and social aspects of life in Africa. Through lectures, discussions, films and a variety of readings, students will explore a number of issues, including ancient Egypt, slavery, colonialism, religion, music, art, African cinema and Pan-Africanism. Prerequisite: ANTH 151, sophomore standing or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences ANTH 151, sophomore standing or permission of instructor. 1 course

ANTH 360

African Diaspora Religions

This course is designed to explore the history, functions, and communities, which encompass religions of the African Diaspora such as Santería, Vodou, and Candomblé. Lectures, discussions, films, and a range of ethnographic literature will introduce students to these religious systems. Among the topics and themes to be addressed in relation to relgiion are issues of identity, ethnicity, gender, performance, and class. Case studies in Brazil, Cuba, and among Latinos in the U.S. will illuminate the multivocality of the religious beliefs and practices found in the African Diaspora.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

Courses in Sociology

SOC 237

Racial and Ethnic Relations

This course explores the origins, changes and possible futures of racial and ethnic relations. It is concerned with both the development of sociological explanations of ethnic and racial conflict, competition and cooperation as well as with practical approaches to improving inter-group relations. The course surveys global and historical patterns of inter-group relations but focuses on late 20th-century and early 21st-century United States. Prerequisite: SOC 100 or sophomore standing.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences SOC 100 or sophomore standing 1 course

SOC 322

Black Issues and Identity

This course considers how oppressive social realities inform the lives and the study of socially marginal and politically disempowered groups. While emphasis is placed on the experiences of people of African descent, the class covers issues of power, definition, bias, resistance, and resilience that are also prominent in the histories of other marginalized groups in the U.S. Prerequisite: One course in Sociology or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One course in Sociology or permission of instructor 1 course

SOC 329

Social Inequalities

This course examines multiple systems of privilege and oppression, such as gender, race, ethnicity, social class, and sexuality. The course considers how these systems of inequality intersect to influence people's experiences of social processes (e.g., discrimination, stereotyping, and violence) and various social institutions (e.g., family, paid labor, education, and media).

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course