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Afro-American Studies

About the Department

Many scholars have argued that the experiences of African Americans are central to and definitive of—rather than marginal to—American culture. Indeed, to study in our department is to consider how African American culture has been a cornerstone of American society.

A student in our department is first a critical thinker, one who learns to ask questions, seek connections, unpack what is invisible or ignored. This critical thinking is achieved through an interdisciplinary curriculum where a student engages the methods of various disciplines (for example, history, sociology, and literature).

Our courses emphasize close reading, research, and writing, and give students a chance to engage contemporary popular culture (for example, Hip Hop) alongside earlier cultural material. Our curriculum also expects students to think about the Caribbean, Africa, and diaspora communities in Europe and elsewhere. In support of this expectation, we encourage students to travel abroad.

One advantage of studying in our department is the chance to develop a curriculum that includes courses from other academic units. We advise students in their coordination of classes from departments like philosophy, government, psychology, women and gender studies, economics, American studies, to name a few. Our aim, always, is to help students have a rich intellectual experience.