AAS Course Offerings


You can print a copy of the course flier for Spring 2021 here.



AAS 100 (also HIS 100): Introduction to African Studies
Instructor:  Vieux Toure
Meeting Times: Hybrid, MWF 9:00-9:50AM
This survey course will provide students with an introductory overview of the African peoples and societies from pre-colonial to post-independent periods. With a particular focus on Sub-Saharan regions, students will examine the foundational texts and films in the field. They will explore issues and debates such as Africa and the Atlantic slave trade, European Imperialism, colonialism and decolonization, gender, African nation-states formation, religion, tradition, modernity, independence and development.  

AAS 168 (also ENG 168): Jazz and Democracy
Instructor: DaMaris Hill
Meeting Times: Online, TR 12:30-1:45

This course is designed to be a hybrid cultural studies seminar and creative composition course that explores jazz theory as a philosophical artistic practice rooted in American democracy. This course will explore jazz aesthetics as a literary, visual, and musical art form.It will also examine theories of jazz composition as philosophical statements that are in direct conversation with the principles of American democracy. The course will also discuss the philosophical and aesthetic relationship that connects jazz literature to surrealist and existentialist artistic movements in modern and postmodern cultural contexts. Artists, some of who may be considered marginalized citizens, to be discussed include James Baldwin, Harryette Mullen, and others. The theoretical aspects of this course will demonstrate how jazz has been a source of inspiration for a variety of twentieth/twenty-first century literatures and theoretical practices. The readings will be selections of fiction, poetry, drama, and essays with emphasis on jazz literary modes, creative trends, and political connotations specific to African American literature and culture.

AAS 200-001:  Introduction to African American Studies
Instructor:  Derrick White 
Meeting Times: Online, TR 11:00-12:15PM

African American Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study, meaning it uses a variety disciplinary analytical methods from the social sciences, arts, and humanities. The field of study puts race and racism at the center of its analysis. Broadly speaking, this occurs in three interrelated ways. First, African American Studies attempts to understand how the belief in black inferiority emerged and infected American social, political, and cultural institutions. Second, African American Studies examines the socio-political terrain of black struggle. Finally, African American Studies explores the cultural creations that have maintained black communities in an often inhumane world. 

AAS 235 (also SOC 235): Inequalities in Society
Instructor: Aimee Imlay   001:  MWF 1:00-1:50
Instructor: Aimee Imlay   002: TR 11:00-12:15PM

This course seeks to promote an understanding of inequalities in American society by considering them in the context of the social origins, development, and persistence of inequalities in the United States and other societies. Bases of inequality that may be considered include race/ethnicity, class/status, gender/sexuality, age, political and regional differences as these relates to politics, social justice, community engagement, and/or public policy. 

AAS 253 (also HIS 253): History of Pre-Colonial Africa
Instructor:  Stephen Davis
Meeting Times: Online, TR 9:30-10:45

This course examines the early history of Africa, from human evolution to colonization by European powers in the late 19th century. Topics include: the development of states from kinship based forms of political organization, the political, cultural, and social transformations that accompanied African conversion to Islam, a close examination of oral epic poetry as a window into medieval empire-building in the Sahel, an extended conversation about the role of Africa in the transatlantic slave trade, and a discussion of the dilemmas faced by African rulers in the era of partition on conquest by European powers. Successful students will gain a thorough introduction to the major developments in the early history of Africa, which will serve as a solid foundation for further coursework in African history and other African studies courses.

AAS 261-001 (also HIS 261):  African American History 1865-Present
Instructor:  TBD, TR 11:00-12:15

This course traces the Black experience from Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. The rise of segregation and the ghetto and aspects of race relations are examined

AAS 264:  Introduction to Black Writers
Instructor: Charles Quinn     001: MWF 1:00-1:50
Instructor: Charles Quinn    002: MWF 11:00-11:50

An introduction to written and oral works by Black authors of Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States. The course includes writers such as Chinua Achebe (Africa), Wilson Harris (Caribbean), and Toni Morrison (USA), as well as others from the diverse field of literature written by African-American authors and authors of color worldwide. Attention will be paid to student writing, particularly to devising a thesis, crafting an argument, and learning how to use supporting evidence.

AAS 301-001:  Introduction to the African Diaspora
Instructor:  Kamahra Ewing    
Meeting Times: Online, TR 11:00-12:15PM

The course will explore the making of the African Diaspora in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds through a combination of historical and ethnographic studies. How did men and women of African descent come to populate and shape the cultures, economies, and politics of the Americas and South Asia? The course will begin with an examination of African cultures in the centuries leading up to European colonization of the Americas and the advent of the Atlantic slave trade. The spread of Islam and Christianity and the growth of empires in East and West Africa will be discussed as part of understanding the traditions and practices which Africans brought with them to the Americas and throughout the Indian Ocean world. We will look at the development of the African Diaspora in the Middle East and South Asia in order to more fully contextualize the western development of the diaspora. The course ends with an examination of African Americans in the United States.

AAS 328-001 (also GEO 328):  Geography of Middle East and North Africa
Instructor:  TBD   
Meeting Times: MWF 1:00-1:50PM

A comprehensive regional overview, emphasizing cultural adaptation to desert environments. The interrelationships among religions, cultures, and the physical environment will be examined, along with the region’s position and influence in the global system.

AAS 360-001 (also HIS 360):  Race and Sports in America
Instructor:  Derrick White
Meeting Times:  Online,  TR 12:30-1:45PM

This course examines the historical and contemporary sporting experiences of the Black Americans by using sports history as a critical lens. The class will begin by evaluating race and sports in slavery and freedom, and then explore African Americans' attempts to actualize freedom on playing fields, tracks, arenas, and rings. When Black sporting aspirations were thwarted by racism, we will examine the creation of parallel Black institutions in football, basketball, and baseball. Next, we will analyze the effects of integration on the sporting world. After providing a thorough historical background, the class will survey how race functions in the contemporary sporting landscape.

AAS 400-001 (also ENG 460G-001): Special Topics in AAAS: Black Speculative Fiction
Instructor:  Regina Hamilton    
Meeting Times: Online, MW 3:00-4:15PM

In this course we will be engaging texts within the African American literary tradition that utilize speculative themes and characters as a means of social critique. One of the goals of this course is to consider the speculative within African American literature as more than a set of sporadic quirks or even a loosely constructed sub-genre at the edges of African American literature. Instead we will consider the use of speculative elements within the African American literature as an important tool for representing the realities and absurdities of black life in America. In addition, this course aims to reveal and interpret the important critical work twentieth century authors of African American literature accomplish when they deploy speculative elements in their texts. We will cover fictional works by Pauline Hopkins, George Schuyler, Octavia Butler, Colson Whitehead, and others. Contextualizing our discussion of these authors and their texts, we will also examine the different periods of African American literature, the intersection of race and gender, genre and its limitations, black feminist theory, and writing as a revolutionary act.

AAS 400-002 (also GWS 301): Special Topics in AAAS: Black Girl Studies
Instructor:  Frances Henderson
Meeting Times:  Hybrid,  MWF 12:00-12:50

This course will introduce students to girls studies and will provide an overview of the field with a focus on Black girls’ experience in the United States.  Studying black girls is an important lens through which to understand race, gender, class, sexuality and ability in the USA.  Particular attention will be paid to the impacts of socialization, representation, marginalization and inclusion/exclusion of black girls and young women as they move through the world in a racially gendered body. Central to this will be developing a critical analysis of wider assumptions about seriousness and play, race and privilege, purity, weakness and power. In this course students will be asked to engage in inquiry and dialogue around several areas, including: consumption, representation, violence, subjectivity and black feminist agency, mental health, and black girl magic and joy through an intersectional lens.

AAS 400-003 (also HIS 595):  Special Topics in AAAS:  Reconstructing America
Instructor:  Amy Murrell Taylor
Meeting Times:  Hybrid, R 2:00-4:30PM

Today’s struggles for racial justice often raise a historical question: How did we get to this point? The answer may be complex but very often leads us back into the period of Reconstruction, to the years following the abolition of slavery in 1865 when the United States embarked on a radical new effort to extend citizenship rights to African American people and build an interracial democracy. What happened during Reconstruction? What was achieved, what went wrong, and why did this period eventually give way to the era of Jim Crow? This course will examine topics ranging from politics to education, labor, and family life, and will explore how this “unfinished revolution,” as one historian has put it, encompassed immigrants and indigenous people too. This is a reading-intensive history course that will feature both original documents written by the people who lived during this period, as well as books written by historians puzzling over the question of what Reconstruction meant in American history.        

AAS 400-004 (also HIS 351):  Special Topics in AAAS:  White Supremacy in America
Instructor: Nikki Brown
Meeting Times:  Hybrid, MWF 1:00-1:50PM

The course will explore the evolution of white supremacy in the United States since the end of the Civil War. We’re going to examine the rise of white supremacy, as an ideology and a practice beginning with the year 1880 and ending in 2017. When African Americans exercised their exercised their rights as citizens in the period of Reconstruction, we’ll look at the rise of white supremacy as a reaction to Reconstruction.  As we move through the 20th century, we’ll study how white supremacy has been used to isolate and discriminate against other groups, like Native and Indigenous peoples, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, and African Americans.  

AAS 400-005 (also HIS 351):  Special Topics in AAAS:  Black Environmental Freedom Struggles
Instructor:  Kathryn Newfont
Meeting Times:  Online,  TR 12:30-1:45PM

Through the lens of environment, this course considers Black freedom struggles in the United States since Emancipation. Ranging through swamps, woods, rivers, cities, and fields in the late nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth, we study Black knowledge-bearing, strategizing, and struggle. We consider the ways Black actors before and after Emancipation used environmental expertise to build independent livelihoods and enable self-determination. We study how Jim Crow systems worked to undercut and disempower these efforts. We explore how Black communities passed down environmental knowledge, as well as how they organized to secure clean air, water, and soil, and to preserve the outdoor places and traditions they valued. We examine the ways Black women, men, and children fought to protect communities from environmental harm, how they worked to heal such harms once inflicted, and how they shared (and continue to share) their experiences and expertise with others.

AAS 400-006 (also CLA 462G): Special Topics in AAAS:  Black Classicism: Early W.E.B. Dubois
Instructor:  Jackie Murray
Meeting Times:  Online, TR 2:00-3:15
Course website:
W.E.B Du Bois (1868-1963) was undoubtedly one of the greatest American minds. His long and prolific intellectual life spanned almost a century and his writings are a great library in themselves. In his early academic and literary works he married his determination to fight racism to his fascination with and inspiration from the ancient world to produce some of the world's greatest literature. In this course we will investigate how his long life's devotion to anti-racism was inextricably bound to his deep learning and abiding interest in the ancient world and the place of Africa and Africans in it. We will focus on his career as a teacher of Classics and his academic contributions to the study of antiquity and examine why his work has only recently been recognized by scholars. 

We will begin the course with an overview of 19th and early 20th century white supremacist theories of race. We will then constrast the constructions of race and blackness as well as depictions of Africa and Africans in the ancient sources with the white supremacist constructions of antiquity that was the prevailing academic discourse while Du Bois was growing up. 

We will be focused on Du Bois' autobiography, Dusk of Dawn (1940) to get a sense of how he saw his early career. And just as he spent his early academic career in Berlin, during the first six weeks of the course, we will spend every Thursday in Germany (virtually). We will meet and discuss Du Bois, Africa, and Classical antiquity with Professor Anja Bettenworth and students at the University of Cologne. We will read and discuss selections from his dissertation on the suppression of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which he started in Germany to get a sense of his early research interests. We will also take the opportunity to compare contemporary American and German constructions of anti-blackness / anti-Africanness as we consider how Du Bois' attitude toward German changed over time.

The first half of the course should provide students with the history and intellectual context for the second half which will be focused on close readings of Du Bois' works. This half of the course will coincide with the UK-Penn State virtual conference on W.E.B.Du Bois and the Ancient Mediterranean. Students will get to attend lectures by experts from around the world and discuss with them the importance of Du Bois to the study of the ancient world and the study of the ancient world to Du Bois. These conversations will help to frame our close reading of the Souls of Black Folks and The Quest for the Silver Fleece as well as some of his correspondence with prominent scholars of the ancient world. 

This course will situate Du Bois' efforts to make blackness in antiquity visible in his writings as a countervailing voice against the mainstream academic discourse that constructed antiquity in the image of the modern world's white supremacist imagination.

AAS 400-007 (also GWS 595-002): Special Topics in AAAS:  Black Feminisms
Instructor:  Nicole Martin
Meeting Times: Online, W 4:00-6:30PM

This course investigates the historical context, theoretical tenets, and everyday practice of Black women’s social, political, intellectual, and creative lives. By emphasizing Black feminisms in its plurality, we make critical space for the specificity of Black feminist expression across nationality, sexual orientation, socioeconomics and gendered presentation. Over the course of the semester, we will become familiar with and draw from an array of texts including novels, theatrical productions, scholarly writing, films, music, and poetry. This range of artifacts will allow us to traverse disciplinary boundaries and access multiple entry points for our discussions of Black women’s activism, spirituality, kinship, Diasporic sensibilities, and articulations of futurity. Permission from the instructor is required for enrollment in this course. Please contact nicolemartin@uky.edu

AAS 400-008 (also GWS GEO 365): Special Topics in AAAS:  The Carceral State
Instructor:  Lydia Pelot-Hobbs
Meeting Times: Online,  MWF 2:00-2:50PM

Why did mass incarceration develop when and how it did in the US? How do calls to defund the police fit into longstanding movements for abolition democracy? Since the founding of the United States, carceral logics and practices have been used to manage periods of political, economic, and social crisis from above and below. In this course, we will examine how the geographic prototype of the plantation and colonial enclosures continue to shape the US carceral state. We will give particular attention to how the spatialization of criminalization produces and is a product of power relations of race, capital, gender, sexuality, citizenship and empire. Together we will trace how punitive power has shifted across space and time in relation to the demands of racial capitalism and how social movements have sought to undo the carceral state in pursuit of geographies of freedom.  

AAS 400-009 (also HIS 351 & HIS 595): Special Topics in AAAS:  Global Black Freedom Struggle
Instructor:  George Wright
Meeting Times:  Online, R 3:00-5:30PM

This seminar will cover the period from the 1870s to the present.   The last decades of the 1800s witnessed the end of slavery and the determination by whites, in the United States, Brazil, and Africa, to create a new racial order with black people, indeed, all “people of color,”  remaining at the bottom of society. Racial discrimination, in virtually every area of society,  became a reality.  Also, racial violence occurred with the primary goal of ensuring that black people clearly understood “their place.”  Yet, significantly, by the early 1900s, in various places in the world, the struggle for racial equality and justice had started.  The seminar will examine a number of key leaders:  courageous women such as Ida Wells Barnett, Frederick Douglass, Marcus Garvey and  W. E. B. Du Bois, and several leaders whose actions continued for much of the 20th Century: Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  The seminar concludes by examining where significant changes have occurred  and where aspects of the racist past still remain firmly entrenched.

AAS 400-010 (ALSO HIS 355):  Special Topics in AAAS:  Slavery Piracy Rebellion
Instructor:  Joseph Clark

Meeting Times: Hybrid, MWF 10:00-10:50AM
From Columbus to Castro, the Caribbean has witnessed conquests, migrations, and revolutions that have changed the course of world history. It was in the Caribbean that Arawak caciques first encountered wayward European voyagers and set in motion the largest and most consequential transfer of plants, germs, and cultures in human history. In the proceeding five centuries, the Caribbean has been the epicenter of American plantation slavery, the testing ground of industrial-scale agriculture, and home to both the only successful slave revolution in world history and the first free country in the Western world. This course examines Caribbean history from Columbus’s first voyage through climate crisis of the 21st century. In readings on slavery and resistance, piracy and smuggling, and rebellion and revolution, students study both to the qualities that make the Caribbean dynamic and distinctive, and the many ways its history, politics, and culture have affected life throughout the world. 

AAS 400-011 (ALSO HIS 355):  Special Topics in AAAS:  Africa’s Borderlands
Instructor:  Francis Musoni
Meeting Times:  Hybrid, TR 12:30-1:45PM

This course examines the evolution of Africa’s borders from the 1880s to the present. In addition to studying how colonial boundary-making processes distorted pre-existing notions of borders in the continent and how measures of border control have changed since the late 19th century, the course will also look at border conflicts, border economies (including prostitution, human trafficking and smuggling), as well as questions of identity and citizenship in Africa. To give students a broader understanding of these themes, the assigned readings and other course materials explore case studies from various regions of the African continent.

AAS 400-012 (ALSO HMN 300-001 & HIS 351-005):  Special Topics in AAAS:  Slavery in American Memory
Instructor:  Daniel Vivian
Meeting Times: Hybrid, TR 1:00-2:15PM

The protests that erupted after the death of George Floyd this past May are only the latest episode in  America’s long struggle with the darkest chapter in the nation’s history. How have Americans remembered slavery, and what purposes have different forms of remembrance served? How has memory of slavery changed over time, and why? And what accounts for surging interest in slavery and its legacy today?  This seminar examines remembrance of slavery since the Civil War. It focuses on the political and cultural significance of remembrance – the combination of remembering and forgetting that has shaped public views of the past and the perspectives of particular social groups. Readings and assignments will investigate narratives of the Civil War and emancipation, romanticization of the Old South, African Americans’ views of emancipation and racial progress, and debates over race, equality, and citizenship. Field trips will consider how slavery is presented at historic sites and museums in central Kentucky. Students will also examine recent controversies over Confederate memorials and plantation tourism and conduct original research to assist in developing more accurate portrayals of slavery at nearby sites. Enrollment is limited to 10 students.  Students must apply to be considered for the course. 

To be considered for this course, please send an email addressing the following question to Professor Vivian at daniel.vivian@uky.edu by Friday, October 16, 2020.

1. Why are you interested in this course? What do you hope to learn from it, and how do you believe it will serve your educational goals? (Please respond in 250 words or less.)

Students selected to participate in the seminar will be notified by Tuesday, October 20, in advance of the beginning of priority registration for spring 2021 classes on October 26.

AAS 401-001 (also ANT 582): Reading/Research in AAAS: Race and Racism
Instructor:  Bertin Louis
Meeting Times:  Online, TR 2:00-3:15PM

This course will take a critical look at the concepts and lived realities of race and racism. There will be a focus on the African diaspora and the anthropological discipline’s centrality to the formation of scientific racism. The course will also cover Haitian and African-American vindicationist interventions in the anthropological past, anthropological pioneers of the critical study of race and racism, theories of race and racism, a sampling of approaches to the study of race in anthropological subdisciplines, as well as contemporary studies of race and racism. There will be a special emphasis placed on anthropological literature and on understanding race and understanding racism in local, national and international contexts.

AAS 469-001:  The Kentucky African American Experience
Instructor:  Gerald Smith
Meeting Times:  Online, T 3:30-6:00

This course offers a general perspective of the African American experience in Kentucky. Students will discuss the social, political, economic, and cultural dimensions of black life in the state form the earliest settlement to the present. This course will also highlight the people, places, events, organizations, and institutions that have been pivotal to the Kentucky African American experience.

AAS 470-001:  The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.  
Instructor:  Gerald Smith
Meeting Times: Online, W 3:30-6:00

This course will review Martin Luther King Jr.'s religious and political thought as well as his rise to national leadership. It will explore the man, the movement, and the message within the context of the black freedom struggle.

AAS 550-001 (also EDC 550): Education in Culturally Diverse Society
Instructor:  TBD    R 5:00-7:30

This course assists future educators in developing strategies to create an equitable teaching/learning environment where all students are validated, stimulated, and nurtured. Course participants explore the rationale for their current belief systems and perceptions of other cultures; investigate how and why their personal attitudes, behaviors, and expectations affect the academic and social development of children and youth, and examine contemporary educational issues.  

BSC 750:  History of Medicine Among African Americans: Implications for Health Disparities
Instructor:  Anita Fernander
Meeting Times:  T 4:00-6:30

This course on the history of medicine among African Americans seeks to provide an understanding of the roots of the African American health deficit.  The course will enable students to:
Articulate how the earliest encounters between African Americans and Western medical researchers set the stage for health inequities. 
Engage in and direct thought-provoking discussions of how racist pseudoscientific ideas remain in contemporary society that contributes to health disparities among African Americans. 
Critically examine the theory of eugenics and social Darwinism and how they are used to justify experimental exploitation and poor medical treatment of African Americans. 
Understand and identify how historical and contemporary medical issues have contributed to medical ethics of distrust in the African American community.

JOU 455:  Mass Media and Diversity:  The College Experience
Instructor:  Dia Davidson-Smith
Meeting Times:  TBD

This course will examine gender and minority issues in the media. The course offers a critical framework for analysis of socio-cultural issues pertaining to women, ethnic groups, disabled persons, and others, and of their presentation in the media. Enrollment is limited and permission is required to enroll in this course.  Please submit this form at http://ci.uky.edu/jam/webforms/jou-course-request-form for enrollment information.

JOU 455:  Mass Media and Diversity: Race, Gender, and Class
Instructor:  Jennifer Greer
Meeting Times:  TR 3:30-4:45pm

Please submit this course request form for enrollment information:  http://ci.uky.edu/jam/course-forms

ENG 771:  Seminar Special Topics:  Black Girlhood
Instructor:  Nazera Wright
Meeting Times: Online, Asynchronous

This course examines how black writers used black girls as tools to put forward their social and political agendas. Often these agendas touched upon national issues of concern to the black community, such as safety and survival during the decades when the Fugitive Slave Act was in effect, strategies for achieving full citizenship rights, working for the abolition of slavery, finding work in the post–Civil War industrialized North, and crafting strategies for educating the next generation. Just as often, writers relied upon black girls as emblems of home and family. Whatever platform they chose for their writing, the black girls they wrote about appeared to carry stories of warning and hope, concern and optimism, struggles and success. Students will read canonical and rarely read texts that include articles from the early black press, autobiographies, short stories, speeches, novels, conduct books, and visual images that feature representations of black girls as models for achieving cultural legitimacy. In mining this rich archive of early African American texts, this course seeks to challenge the longstanding argument that racial discourse has figured black citizenship and racial progress as masculine from the early nineteenth century onward. As we trace shifts in representations of black girlhood across literary history, students will consider key questions: Why did nineteenth century black writers convey racial inequality, poverty, and discrimination through the prism of black girlhood? Why did black writers and activists emphasize certain types of girls? What tropes can we identify in the early literature of black girlhood? Where do these girlhood tropes originate? Readings will include articles on black girlhood from the early black press, “Theresa, A Haytien Tale” (1828), Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig (1859), Maria W. Stewart’s “The First Stage of Life” (1861), Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), William Steward’s “The Gem of the Alley” (1878), Frances E. W. Harper’s Trial and Triumph (1888-1889), Gertrude Bustill Mossell’s Little Dansie’s One Day at Sabbath School (1902), E. Azalia Hackley’s The Colored Girl Beautiful (1916), Wallace Thurman’s The Blacker the Berry (1929), Zora Neale Hurston’s Dust Tracks on a Road (1942), Gwendolyn Brooks’s Annie Allen (1949) and Maud Martha (1953), Paule Marshall’s Brown Girl, Brownstones (1959), Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (1970), artwork by Kara Walker, and Simone Leigh’s Brick House (2019). To frame class discussions, we will engage a wide selection of critical scholarship on black girlhood. Course requirements include a detailed presentation in which each student selects a day to lead class discussion and a 25 paged seminar paper.






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