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Academic Program

African American studies is an interdisciplinary program designed to enrich knowledge of the experience of African Americans from the past to the present, both within and beyond the United States. Attention is given to "race" as a critical tool of analysis for explaining the allocation of economic resources, the formation of personal and group identity, and the changing nature of political behavior. Study of African American experiences provides insight into secular cultural practices, intellectual traditions, religious doctrines and practices, and social institutions with attention to issues of class, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

The chair of African American studies provides a list of courses offered each year. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, students should 1) consult regularly with the chair or a faculty advisor in African American studies to ensure that their program has both breadth and depth and 2) devise programs of study approved by the chair or a faculty advisor by the fall semester of the junior year.

Thesis advisors are chosen by each student, in consultation with the chair, according to the subject matter of the thesis.

More information on the African American studies program is available on the website (bates.edu/african-american).

Major Requirements. Students must complete eleven courses and a thesis. Courses taken for the major must include:
a) at least one course that has an experiential component;
b) at least one course that emphasizes feminist histories and analyses;
c) at least one course that focuses on black diasporic life outside the United States.
Within the major, students may develop a concentration in literature or the arts (music, theater, dance, fine art), film studies, environmental studies, gender studies, politics, public policy, anthropology, economics, education, sociology, psychology, history, philosophy, race and science, or may focus on a particular world region (e.g., the Caribbean, Africa, Latin America).

Courses for the major include:

1) Required Courses:
AAS 100. Introduction to African American Studies.
INDS 250. Interdisciplinary Studies: Methods and Modes of Inquiry.

2) One junior-senior seminar, including:
INDS 321. Afroambiente:Writing a Black Environment.
INDS 325. Black Feminist Literary Theory and Practice.
INDS 342. Performance, Narrative, and the Body.
AA/SP 350. Representing Blacks in Cuban Culture: From the Colony to the Revolution.
AA/AC 375. Curatorial Studies and Contemporary Culture.
AA/HI 390E. African Slavery in the Americas.
AAS 390F. The Afro-Hispanic Diaspora.
HIST 390W. The Civil Rights Movement.
AA/RH 391C. The Harlem Renaissance.
AA/EN 395T. African American Literary Issues and Criticism.

3) Eight other courses offered by the African American studies program or from the following list of electives offered by other departments and programs:
AC/AV 288. Visualizing Race.
ANTH 155. Cinematic Portraits of Africa.
ANTH s10. Encountering Community: Ethnographic Fieldwork and Service-Learning.
ED/SO 242. Race, Cultural Pluralism, and Equality in American Education.
HIST 390W. The Civil Rights Movement.
INDS 267. Blood, Genes, and American Culture.
MUS 247. History of Jazz.
PLTC 229. Race and Civil Rights in Constitutional Interpretation.
PLTC 235. Black Women in the Americas.
REL 247. City upon the Hill.
REL 255. African American Religious Traditions.
SOC 205. Research Methods for Sociology.
SPAN 216A. España en Blanco y Negro.

4) AAS 457 or 458. Senior Thesis.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses applied toward the major.

Minor. A minor in African American studies allows students to develop a basic foundation in the field and to complement the perspective and modes of analysis offered in their major area of study. The program has established the following requirements for a minor in African American studies:

1) AAS 100. Introduction to African American Studies.
2) AA/WS 201. Race, Ethnicity, and Feminist Thought.
3) AA/HI 243. African American History.
4) Three additional courses, of which one should focus on black diasporic life outside the United States, of which one should be at the 300 level.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses applied toward the minor.


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