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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