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The Department of African American Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University provides an educationally rich environment in which students and scholars research, learn and teach about the past and present realities of people of African descent. Employing a wide range of theories, perspectives, methods and tools, African American Studies faculty explore social, political, economic and cultural realities and connections between the experiences of persons in Africa and throughout the African Diaspora. The department emphasizes experiential learning, offers study abroad opportunities and internships.

 
 

AFAM   104. Sociology of Racism. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. The course will explore the direct and indirect ways in which racial attitudes are acquired, their effect on individuals and society, and the institutional and ideological manifestations of racism as a "faith system," as exploitation and as a form of human conflict. The central focus of interest will be on black-white relationships. Crosslisted as: SOCY   104.

AFAM   105. Survey of African History. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A survey of African civilization from prehistory to the present, emphasizing the events, ideas and institutions that have shaped, influenced and defined Africa's place in the world. First semester: to 1800. Second semester: 1800 to the present. Crosslisted as: HIST   105.

AFAM   106. Survey of African History. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A survey of African civilization from prehistory to the present, emphasizing the events, ideas and institutions that have shaped, influenced and defined Africa's place in the world. First semester: to 1800. Second semester: 1800 to the present. Crosslisted as: HIST   106.

AFAM   111. Introduction to Africana Studies. 3 Hours.Play VideoPlay course video for Introduction to Africana Studies

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Using a multidisciplinary approach, this course will familiarize students with important events developments, personalities and other phenomena that help facilitate the study and understanding of peoples of African descent dispersed throughout the world from their early continental African past to their present existence.

AFAM   121. Tap Technique I. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 1 lecture and 2 studio hours. 2 credits. Beginning study and training in the principles of tap technique with emphasis upon style, body alignment, spatial patterning, flexibility, strength and kinesthetic awareness to move the body in the style required for tap dancing. Crosslisted as: DANC   121.

AFAM   122. Tap Technique I. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 1 lecture and 2 studio hours. 2 credits. Beginning study and training in the principles of tap technique with emphasis upon style, body alignment, spatial patterning, flexibility, strength and kinesthetic awareness to move the body in the style required for tap dancing. Crosslisted as: DANC   122.

AFAM   126. African-Caribbean Dance I. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 1 lecture and 2 studio hours. 2 credits. Dance based on the movements and rhythms of Africa and the Caribbean. Crosslisted as: DANC   126.

AFAM   127. African-Caribbean Dance I. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 1 lecture and 2 studio hours. 2 credits. Dance based on the movements and rhythms of Africa and the Caribbean. Crosslisted as: DANC   127.

AFAM   151. Jazz Dance Technique I. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 1 lecture and 2 studio hours. 2 credits. Prerequisite: DANC   102 or permission of instructor. Study and training in the principles and concepts of jazz technique. Emphasis on body alignment, flexibility, balance, rhythmic awareness and mastery of isolated movements of body parts. The course includes the exploration of the relationship between jazz music and jazz dance. Crosslisted as: DANC   151.

AFAM   152. Jazz Dance Technique I. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 1 lecture and 2 studio hours. 2 credits. Prerequisite: DANC   102 or permission of instructor. Study and training in the principles and concepts of jazz technique. Emphasis on body alignment, flexibility, balance, rhythmic awareness and mastery of isolated movements of body parts. The course includes the exploration of the relationship between jazz music and jazz dance. Crosslisted as: DANC   152.

AFAM   200. Introduction to African Societies. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. This course introduces the student to the African continent, its peoples and cultures. It covers such general characteristics as the physical and geographical features, climate, topography, traditional economies, languages, religions, social systems and other cultural features that are traditional to its people. Crosslisted as: ANTH   200/INTL   200.

AFAM   204. Africa in Transition. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: AFAM/ANTH/INTL   200 or permission of instructor. The impact of modern social change upon the traditional aspects of African life. Various aspects of social change as it applies to Africa today will be explored.

AFAM   206. African American Family Relationships. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Focuses on the African-American family from the 1940s to the present. Examines the values and the interpersonal/role relationships that are involved in forming and maintaining African-American families in the contemporary United States. Topics include dating and sexual relationships, marital relationships, parent-child relationships and relationships with members of the extended family. Crosslisted as: SOCY   206/GSWS   206.

AFAM   211. Africana Social and Political Thought. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Guides students in identifying and mapping the continuities and discontinuities in political and social thought of the African world. Through an exploration of the various works of scholars, activists and artists, this course will expose students to nondominant narratives in an effort to expand the breadth and depth of interdependence in Africana contributions to ideas such as, but not limited to, the arts, justice, equality and human emancipation.

AFAM   250. Introduction to African-American Music. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An introductory survey of black involvement with the development of music in America from 1607 to the present. African-American musical styles will be studied from many aspects including their African roots and contemporary popular expression. Crosslisted as: MHIS   250.

AFAM   291. TOPICS:. 1-3 Hours.

AFAM   302. Politics of the Civil Rights Movement. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. The main objectives of the course are to introduce and examine the personalities and activities of the modern Civil Rights Movement. The course provides the historical background leading up to the peak years of the struggle for racial equality in America. It has special focus on the events of the 1960s and, particularly their implication for the current state of U.S. Civil Rights. Crosslisted as: POLI   302.

AFAM   303. Black Theatre. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A study of the major developments in the evolution of black theatre through readings and studio performances in black-related and black-theatre dramaturgy. Crosslisted as: THEA   303.

AFAM   305. African American Family in Social Context. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY   101. A socio-historical examination of the development of the family system of Americans from Africa. Focuses on large-scale (macro level) processes such as changes in the major mode of economic production and in political systems and the corresponding changes in black family structure and functioning. Presents the theoretical material on African-American families and social change that prepares students for further study of the family as a social institution and for the study of family policy. This course is designed to meet the needs of upper-division social science majors. Crosslisted as: GSWS   305/SOCY   305.

AFAM   307. Black Religion. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An analysis of the role of religion in the lives of blacks with an emphasis on African religions and philosophies, the black church in America, and the roles of the various faiths, sects and cults. Crosslisted as: RELS   307/INTL   307.

AFAM   309. Global Women's Health. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Explores issues in women's health from a national and international perspective with an emphasis on the experiences of women in the African diaspora. Theories in medical anthropology are employed to examine key themes. Crosslisted as: ANTH   309/INTL   309/GSWS   309.

AFAM   310. African American Health: Health Disparities. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Examines health and health disparities among African-Americans in the U.S. Explores the primary health concerns and issues in the African-American community. Topics include impacts of infant mortality, cardiovascular disease, AIDS, violence and cancer on the overall health status of African-Americans.

AFAM   311. African Diaspora Experiences. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Traces the geography and history of dispersed African peoples from their motherland to all parts of the world and reveals the cultural, social, political and economic developments of peoples of African descent worldwide. Surveys the evolution and implication of the trans-Atlantic, trans-Saharan, and trans-Indian Ocean slave trade, in particular the dimensions of experiences of African-descended peoples with emphasis not only on North and South America but also the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Papua New Guinea and Australia.

AFAM   315. Economic Development. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B and ECON   211; or ECON   210 and ECON   211. An introduction to the process of economic development including a survey of development theory and a study of the experience of both underdeveloped and developed countries. Economic policies and tools of economic planning for stimulating development will be presented. Crosslisted as: ECON   315/INTL   315.

AFAM   318. Politics of Race, Class and Gender. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A study of the racial, class and gender influences on the history and development of political values, conflicts, processes, structures and public policy in the United States. Crosslisted as: POLI   318/GSWS   318.

AFAM   322. Personality and Behavior of the African American. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. A study of personality factors, such as motivation, ego functioning and the socialization processes with special emphasis on living conditions of African-Americans. Crosslisted as: PSYC   322.

AFAM   333. Geography of Africa. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A study of the land forms, climate, peoples, livelihoods, settlement patterns and cultural groupings of sub-Saharan Africa. Crosslisted as: URSP   333/INTL   333.

AFAM   342. African-American Art. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ARTH   104 and UNIV   200 or HONR   200, both with a minimum grade of C. A study of the art forms produced by Americans of African origin from the 17th century to the present with an emphasis on contemporary trends in black art. Crosslisted as: ARTH   342.

AFAM   343. Black Political Thought. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An historical and sociological perspective on the political and social ideas of black thinkers from David Walker to the present. Crosslisted as: POLI   343.

AFAM   345. African-American Politics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. In this course, students will discuss and analyze the dynamics of the black experience in the American political system. The status of African-Americans in the United States and the struggle for racial equality will be examined, as will the manner in which American institutions have responded to these phenomena. Students will examine the race/class metric in African-American politics, particularly policies of Affirmative Action as a black progress strategy. Crosslisted as: POLI   345.

AFAM   346. Mental Health Across the African Diaspora. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Surveys theory and research on the interaction of culture and mental illness focusing primarily on populations of African descent in a seminar format. Topics to be addressed, through the lens of the Africana world, include epidemiological and ethnographic research on major psychiatric disorders, culture-bound syndromes and idioms of distress, mental health of immigrants and refugees, and cross-cultural competence in clinical practice.

AFAM   347. African American Children and Families. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Reviews cultural variations in the physical, cognitive, emotional and social development of African American children. Addresses historical and contemporary frameworks of child development and highlights the strengths and limitations of extant research paradigms in the study of African American children. Considers integrity-based approaches that explain the developmental competencies of African American children in response to environmental risks that exceed normative expectations.

AFAM   350. Studies in the Music of the African Continent and Diaspora. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. Prerequisite: MHIS   243 or MHIS/AFAM   250. An in-depth examination of selected topics and issues in African-derived musical and cultural traditions. Crosslisted as: MHIS   350/INTL   370.

AFAM   356. Government and Politics of Africa. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Introduces students to the basic outlines of government and politics in Africa. The course will consider such topics as colonialism, elitism and nationalism and modernization strategies. Using the comparative approach, the course will primarily focus on West, East and Central Africa. Crosslisted as: POLI   356/INTL   356.

AFAM   357. Politics of Southern Africa. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An examination of racial and political developments in the southern tip of Africa. While South Africa will be the primary focus of analysis, other countries in the region such as Zimbabwe, Angola and Mozambique will be studied. Crosslisted as: POLI   357/INTL   357.

AFAM   358. African Art and Architecture. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A study of African art and architecture from prehistoric times to the present. Special emphasis is placed on form, content, function and meaning, as well as the impact of African art on modern and African-American art. Crosslisted as: ANTH 358.

AFAM   361. Americans from Africa. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A study of the history and culture of blacks in the United States, designed to analyze some of the most important aspects of black life and the attitudes of the dominant society within which blacks lived. The second semester emphasizes the changing status, expectations and ideologies of black Americans in the 20th century. First semester: to 1877. Second semester: since 1877. Crosslisted as: HIST   361.

AFAM   362. Americans from Africa. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A study of the history and culture of blacks in the United States, designed to analyze some of the most important aspects of black life and the attitudes of the dominant society within which blacks lived. The second semester emphasizes the changing status, expectations and ideologies of black Americans in the 20th century. First semester: to 1877. Second semester: since 1877. Crosslisted as: HIST   362.

AFAM   363. African Literature. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ENGL   201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 211, 215, 236, 291, or 295. A survey of the literature of Africa with particular emphases on fiction and on West Africa. Some attention also will be given to orature. Crosslisted as: ENGL   363/INTL   366.

AFAM   365. Caribbean Literature. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ENGL   201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 211, 215, 236, 291, or 295. A survey of West Indian writings. Attention will be given to African, European and Amerindian influences, as well as to the emergence of a West Indian literary tradition. Crosslisted as: ENGL   365/INTL   367.

AFAM   379. African-American Literature : Beginnings through Through the Harlem Renaissance. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ENGL   201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 211, 215, 236, 291 or 295. An examination of the culture and literature of African Americans from their roots in Africa and the African Diaspora to the Harlem Renaissance. Authors may include Wheatley, Douglass, DuBois, Hurston, Hughes and Cullen. Crosslisted as: ENGL   379.

AFAM   387. History of West Africa to 1800. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A study of the transformation of West African societies from early times to 1800, with emphasis on the rise of states and empires, the introduction, spread and impact of Islam, the Atlantic slave trade and its effects, and colonialism. Crosslisted as: HIST   381.

AFAM   388. Africa: Social, Cultural and Economic History. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A study of economic, social and cultural developments in Africa from the beginning of the 19th century to the present, with emphasis on agricultural and industrial development, trade, Africa's involvement in the world economy, changes in labor systems, racial dominance, African initiatives and resistance, religion and social evolution, and Africa in world affairs. Crosslisted as: HIST   384.

AFAM   389. History of Southern Africa. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A study of the history and culture of the peoples of southern Africa. Deals with the areas that presently are the Republic of South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Emphasizes the interaction among the various communities and ethnolinguistic groups in southern Africa. Crosslisted as: HIST   383.

AFAM   390. Africa and the Americas: Slavery, Gender and Race. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Examines various aspects of slavery in Africa and selected parts of the African diaspora, including the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, with special emphasis on the role played by race and gender. Topics will include African conditions of servility, the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved Africans, and chattel slavery, demography, labor, law, discipline, abuse, resistance and status. Crosslisted as: HIST   380/GSWS   390.

AFAM   392. Caribbean History to 1838. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An exploration of changes in the structure of Caribbean society from the late 15th century to 1838, with emphasis on the development of plantation slavery, social stratification, race, slave resistance, the Haitian Revolution, African cultural patterns and abolition. Crosslisted as: HIST   376.

AFAM   393. Akhenaten to Cleopatra. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A survey of Egyptian history from the period of the Empire (New Kingdom, c. 1570 B.C.) through the Ptolemaic Age of Cleopatra (c. 30 B.C.). Particular areas of concentration will include the Amarna Period of Akhenaten and various aspects of Egyptian daily life.

AFAM   394. Service-learning in African American Health. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: AFAM   310. Open to African-American studies majors only. Provides an overview of critical public health issues and intervention strategies that may influence life chances and disease susceptibility among African-Americans through a service-learning format.

AFAM   399. Interdisciplinary Research Methods. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Introduces students to the interdisciplinary processes whereby those working in the field develop their arguments and interpretations concerning the black experience. Students will develop increased skills in library research and an awareness of the importance of such methodologies as archaeology, oral history, case studies, participant observations, experiments and surveys. Students will be introduced to the need for critical analysis, the role of biases and frames of references and the reason why scholars working in the field often reach different conclusions with reference to issues of fact, interpretation and significance.

AFAM   401. African-Americans and the U.S. Health Care System. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: AFAM 103, AFAM/SOCY/WMNS/GSWS   305 or permission of the instructor. Explores issues surrounding the disparity in health status and health outcomes between African-Americans and other groups in the United States. Students are required to participate in an experiential exercise designed to enhance learning. Crosslisted as: SOCY   401.

AFAM   411. Applied Concepts in Africana Studies. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: AFAM   111 with a minimum grade of C. Pre- or corequisite: AFAM   399. Explores the processes and challenges involved in studying the experiences of African-descended peoples, with a focus on the development of an idea or observation into a finished and well-executed research product. Investigates how these processes unfold in the works of specific black studies researchers, as they capture the varied consciousnesses, histories and social forces surrounding black life in America, Africa and throughout the diaspora.

AFAM   413. African and Oceanic Art. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A study of the architecture, painting, sculpture and civilizations of the major art-producing tribes of West Africa and Oceania from the 13th century to the present. Crosslisted as: ARTH   350.

AFAM   416. The Origin and Evolution of the Idea of Race. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ANTH/INTL   103 or AFAM 103 or permission of instructor. Explores the origins and social history of the "idea" of race from the Middle Ages to the end of the 20th century. Using both historical and anthropological scholarship, the course presents an analytical framework for race as a sociocultural phenomenon. Crosslisted as: ANTH   416.

AFAM   420. Women of Africa. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ANTH/INTL   103 or AFAM 103. Looks at the traditional roles of women in African Societies and examines how women have coped in different environments. Focuses on the institutionalized aspects of similarities and differences in women's lives in pastoral and horticultural societies and those with mixed economies, and contrasts these with women's roles in large state societies of Africa and in the modern urbanized context. Crosslisted as: ANTH   420/INTL   420.

AFAM   440. Contemporary Art and Architecture of Africa. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ARTH   390 with a minimum grade of C. A study of the impact on African art and architecture of colonialism, urbanization and modernization. Special emphasis is placed on the search for a new identity by contemporary African artists. Crosslisted as: ARTH   440.

AFAM   451. Religion, Racism and Social Justice. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: RELS   340/INTL   341, WLRD 210 or WRLD   220; UNIV   200 or HONR   200. Explores the complex history and contemporary relationships between religion, racism and social justice. Crosslisted as: INTL   451/RELS   451.

AFAM   474. Minorities and the Mass Media. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: MASC   101 with a minimum grade of C. Examines historical and contemporary issues associated with the presence and portrayal of selected minorities in/by mainstream mass media in the United States. Primary emphasis is placed on the examination of African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans. Asian-Americans, Native Americans and women also are covered. Crosslisted as: MASC   474.

AFAM   491. Topics in African-American Studies. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. May be repeated with different topics for a maximum of 9 credits; 3 credits may be applied to the African-American studies minor. An in-depth study of specialized areas of African-American studies.

AFAM   492. Independent Study. 1-4 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. Variable credit. Maximum 4 credits per semester. Maximum total of 4 credits in all independent study courses. Prerequisites: completion of 12 credits in African-American studies courses; junior or senior standing.

AFAM   493. Internship in Africana Studies. 1,3 Hour.

Semester course; variable hours. 1, 2 or 3 credits. May be repeated for a maximum total of 6 credits. A minimum of 50 hours of work per credit. Permission from the department chair or internship coordinator required. Determination of the amount of credit (based on hours or effort required) and permission of departmental internship coordinator must be obtained prior to registration for the course. Internship credit is restricted to students with a minimum grade point average of 2.5 and junior or senior status. Through a directed internship with a nonprofit organization, business, industry, government or university, the student will serve as an intern in a position that provides a real-life experience working with a population of African descent with the goal of defining, improving, affirming and/or validating black experiences in the African diaspora. Graded pass/fail.

AFAM   494. Internship in African American Health. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 150 clock hours in appropriate organization. 3 credits. Prerequisites: AFAM   310, either AFAM/ANTH/INTL/WMNS/GSWS   309 or AFAM/PSYC   322, and AFAM   394. Applicants must be approved by the internship coordinator. Open to African-American studies majors of senior standing only. Students are placed in organizations that offer supervised work or research experience in a health setting appropriate to their interests. A final report must be submitted upon completion of the internship.

AFAM   499. Capstone Seminar in Africana Studies. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: AFAM   111, AFAM   211, AFAM   311, AFAM   399 and AFAM   411; and senior standing. Involves the planning and execution of a major research project demonstrating the interdisciplinary processes through which those working in the field of Africana studies use diverse sources to develop their arguments and interpretations.