Modern African American Culture

History 315

Dale T. Graden
Spring 1998
Admin 208
MWF at 9:30

Office: Administration 305 A
Office Hours: Tuesday 8 - 9:30 or by appointment
Office Telephone: 885-8956

The purpose of this course is to offer an overview of African American history and cultural expression in the United States from the 19th century to the present. Comparisons are made with the experience/culture/history of African Americans in other parts of the Americas and the world. Through readings, discussion, lectures, and films, we shall study some of the important personalities and historical forces that have influenced African Americans and the societies in which they live.

It is imperative that you attend the classes, and that you do the readings. When it is noted discussion, please come prepared to discuss. The quality of the discourse in the classroom depends upon your preparation and commitment. Do not hesitate to ask questions at any time in the class. Please, feel free to challenge my interpretations of history and culture or share with other members of the section your own insights. My days are enhanced significantly when I learn about new ideas and your perspectives. My goal is for this to be one of the great learning experiences in your journey through life.

I reserve the right to determine a grade based on attendance and participation. If you miss more than six classes during the semester, your final grade will drop by a grade. If you cannot attend a class for health or other reasons, please leave a note in my mailbox in the department of history (Admin 315) or send a message via email to let me know. I pay close attention to attendance. I emphasize to you that your involvement makes a class of this nature a worthwhile endeavor for everyone.

There will be a one-hour mid-term exam and a final examination. There are also two short papers of three to four (3-4) typed pages required. Everyone is required to write on W.E.B. DuBois' The Souls of Black Folk; this short paper is due in class on Friday, January 30th. The second paper is chosen from four other options and is due on the date noted on the syllabus. Each paper is worth twenty (20) points, the hour mid-term exam is worth twenty (20) points, the final exam is worth thirty (30) points, and your participation is worth ten (10) points.

The two short papers of 3-4 pages are assigned to help you to learn how to write effectively and to ensure that you come to the specific discussion meeting prepared to talk about your ideas and interpretations. These essays should address some theme(s) which you consider relevant from the assigned reading. The short paper is not a "book report." Rather, it is a critique of the book that you have read. I want to read about your ideas and observations and critical analysis, and not an overview of what the author has written. Show me that you have read and thought about the book. According to the law of effective writing, the paper should begin with an introduction, and the last sentence of the introductory paragraph should inform the reader (me) of the central theme or focus of the critique. Then construct coherent paragraphs that analyze in a logical manner the topic. Finally, finish with a conclusion.

Please, write the paper a few days before the due date, so that you can return to the computer at least once before you hand it to me. This will enable you to make corrections and refinements. I have read hundreds of these short papers, and know when someone has scribbled down a bunch of ideas the night before and when the assignment has been approached seriously. I believe that these short papers are among the most important exercises that you can do as a student in a university. And you have asked why?!! Because the majority of students graduate from universities and colleges across the land unable to write 3-4 coherent pages on a specific topic or reading. I hope that you find the readings challenging and stimulating. In other words, I hope that the assigned readings make you feel like you want to take pen (computer) in hand to write down your ideas. The discussion offers a great opportunity for you to share with the class your ideas, impressions, sentiments, worldview, etc. I am convinced that we all have much to gain by engaging in a reasoned and critical dialogue with each other, no matter how much you might agree or disagree with the viewpoint of other persons. Late papers will not be accepted. You are welcome to write as many papers as you like, and such initiatives will be considered in my final evaluation of your work and involvement in this course. Also, I encourage you to take advantage of the great opportunities that are available to you at the UI writing center.

I would like to note that The New York Times is available at a very reduced rate for UI students during this spring semester. This newspaper provides insightful domestic and international coverage of stories and themes related to race. I encourage you to subscribe and read or skim this newspaper every day.

The following books are available at the UI bookstore and are on reserve at the library:

John Hope Franklin and Alfred Moss, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans (7th edition)
W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk
Wallace Thurman, The Blacker the Berry
Hendrik Kraay, ed., Culture and Politics in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Afro-Bahia
Maya Angelou, The Heart of a Woman
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Cornel West, The Future of the Race

Week One: Nineteenth-century slavery across the Americas
Reading: Franklin and Moss (hereafter F&M), From Slavery to Freedom, 122-70.

12 Introduction
14 International slave trade and slave systems
16 Capitalism and antislavery

Week Two: The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1860-1875
Reading: F&M, From Slavery to Freedom, 198-246; begin DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk

19 no class, Martin Luther King Day
Jan. 20th, Tuesday: At 6 p.m. there will be a candlelight march that leaves from SUB main entrance, followed by a keynote address at 7 p.m. by Dr. Lee Jones at the Student Union Ballroom. Please attend.
21 film: "The Civil War: War is All Hell"
23 Reconstruction: "America's Unfinished Revolution"

Week Three: The "Redeemed South", 1880s-1920s
Reading: conclude DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk; F&M, From Slavery to Freedom, 264-94

26 White reaction and black response
28 film: "Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice"
30 discussion of DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk and required first critique is due

Week Four: African Americans in the West and the "new empire" of the United States, 1860s to 1920s
Reading: F&M, From Slavery to Freedom, 295-322; begin Thurman, The Blacker the Berry

2 African Americans in the North American west
4 Imperialism and Social Darwinism
6 film: "Midnight Ramble"

Week Five: African American Renaissance, 1915-1930
Reading: conclude Thurman, The Blacker the Berry

9 Cultural Renaissance in Harlem and Chicago
11 film: "Against the Odds: The Artists of the Harlem Renaissance"
13 discussion of The Blacker the Berry and optional critique two due

Week Six: Negritude in the Caribbean and Paris, 1920s-1930s
Reading: F&M, From Slavery to Freedom, 346-380

16 no class, President's Day
18 Picasso, Negritude, Leopold Senghor, and Paris in the 1920s
20 film: "Richard Wright"

Week Seven: World War One, International Depression, World War Two
Reading: F&M, From Slavery to Freedom, 381-404

23 World war and race wars
25 film: "The Great Depression: To Be Somebody"
27 African American workers at home and abroad

Week Eight: African Brazilians in the Twentieth Century
Reading: begin Kraay, Culture and Politics in 19th- and 20th Century Afro-Bahia

2 mid-term exam
4 Slavery in Brazil: "Children of God's Fire"
6 Abolition and the transition to free labor

Week Nine: Brazil and the "Myth of Racial Democracy"
Reading: finish Kraay, Culture and Politics

9 film: "The Vanishing Negro"
11 The myth of racial democracy: defenders and critics
13 discussion of Kraay, Culture and Politics, and optional critique three due

Spring Break

Week Ten: Cold War and McCarthyism, 1940s-1960
Reading: F&M, From Slavery to Freedom, 461-91

23 The cold war, repression, and the rise of national liberation movements in Africa
25 film: "Lena Horne: In Her Own Words"
27 McCarthyism and African American response

Week Eleven: Black Power Movement I: Malcolm X
Reading: F&M, From Slavery to Freedom, 492-531

30 Malcolm X as symbol
1 film: "Malcolm X: Make it Plain"
3 guest lecture by Albashar Abdullah, dept. of Anthropology, WSU

Week Twelve: Black Power Movement II: Martin Luther King
Reading: begin Maya Angelou, The Heart of a Woman

6 Martin Luther King and the 1960s
8 film: "Freedom on My Mind"
10 1968, Viet Nam and the "Great Society" program of LBJ

Week Thirteen: A Reflection on Race Relations
Reading: conclude Angelou, The Heart of a Woman

13 discussion of Maya Angelou, The Heart of a Woman, and optional critique four due
15 Literature, culture, and definitions of racism
17 Debates over Affirmative Action

Week Fourteen: African American Women and the Media
Reading: begin Gates and West, The Future of the Race

20 The international media
22 film: "Clarence Thomas, Anita Hill: Public Hearing, Private Pain"
24: no class; attending a conference

Week Fifteen: The Future of the Race
Reading: conclude Gates and West, The Future of the Race

27 film: "W.E.B. DuBois of Great Barrington"
29 Four models of African American studies; or, what is happening at Harvard
1 discussion of Gates and West, The Future of the Race, and optional critique five due

Week Sixteen: 1990s and Beyond
Reading: F&M, From Slavery to Freedom, 532-72

4 Ghettos and rap
6 film: "Ending the Violence"
8 conclusions

Final Exam: Monday May 11, 10-12