Undergraduate Catalog

African American Studies

Chairperson: Dr. F. Erik Brooks
Office: Morgan Hall 232
Telephone: (309) 298-1181; Fax: (309) 298-2181
E-mail: aas@wiu.edu
Website: wiu.edu/aas

Program Offerings and Locations:

  • Minor in African American Studies: Macomb, Quad Cities

Faculty: Asare, Boukari, Brooks, Morgan, Simpson, Watkins.

The Department of African American Studies provides a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary education emphasizing informed multicultural, analytical, and critical approaches to the historical development; societies; cultures; economic, social, and political problems; contributions; and potentials of Black people of the Americas, Africa, and the African Diaspora.

Study in African American Studies enhances students’ abilities to reexamine traditional paradigms of knowledge in the humanities and social sciences, and develop the necessary skills and methodologies to understand the cultural patterns, knowledge, and behaviors that are not commonly represented in an Eurocentric education. Furthermore, students of African American Studies acquire dynamic perspectives and transformative knowledge, which prepare them for an increasingly diverse nation and world. They also acquire the ability to evaluate, criticize, research, and re-conceptualize personal and social constructions of race and class. These skills and abilities are indispensable in a changing society and will prove to be especially valuable in contemporary and future occupations where employees will be expected to cope with new demographic factors and expand traditional horizons.

Coursework in African American Studies offers students opportunities to learn as well as practice various modes of inquiry which will prepare them for graduate studies and/or occupations that require writing and critical analysis. Students are trained to investigate historical, cultural, economic, religious, political, and literary phenomena and are encouraged to formulate new thinking based on thoughtful reflection on personal and community experiences. Assignments that empower students and give them skills to creatively understand and contribute to their communities and formulate informed independent views are central to all African American Studies courses. Students are especially encouraged to articulate their social and cultural experiences and to explore the world without submitting to personal, community, and group-held biases and limitations.

A minor in African American Studies is an excellent complement to several majors, especially those which involve interracial contacts and relations. Students pursuing majors in the social sciences; Communication; humanities; education; Social Work; Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration; Law Enforcement and Justice Administration; and Health Sciences could particularly benefit by electing this minor.


Minor in African American Studies.................................................................................................18 s.h.
  1. AAS 100 and 102...........................................................................................................6 s.h.
  2. Select one of the following: AAS 281, 282, or 283.........................................................3 s.h.
  3. AAS Electives.................................................................................................................9 s.h.
    6 s.h. must be chosen from 300- and 400-level courses.

Course Descriptions


100 Survey of African American Studies I. (3) (General Education/Multicultural Studies) A survey of the history of Black people up to 1864 including the “Cradle of Civilization,” the ancient empires of West Africa, the slave trade, and the Caribbean; also includes African and African American literature, art, and music.

102 Survey of African American Studies II. (3) A survey of the history of Black people from 1864 to the present including contributions to African American history, literature, art, and music.

145 Famous People of African Descent. (3) (General Education/Multicultural Studies) A study of the lives and works of famous people of African descent throughout the world with particular emphasis on African Americans.

245 (Cross-listed with ENG 245) Survey of African American Literature. (3) A literary and cultural introduction to the study of African American writers, organized chronologically, but with special emphasis on the twentieth century. Not open to students with credit in ENG 245.

251 Social Problems in Black America. (3) A sociological investigation of such problems as crime and delinquency, racism, mental illness, drug use, alcoholism, and poverty. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of instructor.

255 Migration and Urbanization of African Americans. (3) An introduction to migration patterns of free African Americans from 1865 to the present, with special emphasis on “push and pull” factors, geographical location, residential and school segregation, and physical and social mobility.

260 African American Music Survey. (3) A survey of the styles and figureheads of the African American music legacy. A historical approach beginning with the Trans-Atlantic slave trade through African American musical history. Genres will range from slave work songs to contemporary music of Black America. Prerequisite: AAS 100 or permission of the instructor.

262 African Americans and Hip Hop as Cultural Phenomenon. (3) An examination of the distinct elements of the hip hop phenomenon and its cultural influence on a global society. Prerequisite: AAS 260 or consent of the instructor.

270 Blacks and the Law. (3) This course familiarizes students with primary source materials including, but not limited to, case law and biographies. The course critically examines the assumptions about the Black struggle and the role of the law, demonstrating the gap between the promise and the practice of the U.S. Constitution.

281 Literature of the Black World. (3) (General Education/Humanities or Multicultural Studies) A comparative presentation of literary works by African, Caribbean, and African American writers.

282 African American Theatre. (3) (General Education/Fine Arts or Multicultural Studies) A survey of the African American contributions to the American stage from 1760 to the present, with an examination of representative works by various African American playwrights.

283 African American Folklore. (3) (General Education/Humanities or Multicultural Studies) A study of the relationship between African and Diaspora folktales, folk beliefs, and customs. Identification of parallel folktales, symbols, and social practices. An interdisciplinary approach to the study of this folklore.

290 Black Popular Culture. (3) The African roots of Black people and their contributions to American culture, emphasizing African American culture, artistic expression, identity, and contemporary Black popular culture.

302 Black Intellectual Traditions. (3) An examination of the dimensions of Black intellectual traditions and movements that have developed in the modern world. Prerequisite: AAS 100 and 102, or junior standing, or consent of instructor.

310 (Cross-listed with WS 310) Black Women in the Unites States. (3) A sociological analysis of the various social roles of Black women, including those of gender, education, occupations, and marriage and family, with some attention given to contributions and achievements. Not open to students with credit in WS 310.

311 (Cross-listed with POLS 311) Race and Ethnicity in American Politics. (3) This course examines how racial and ethnic minority groups shape, and are shaped by, American politics and society. It focuses primarily on the politics of specific racial and ethnic minority groups in the United States. Not open to students with credit in POLS 311. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

312 Black Men in the U.S. (3) Examination of cultural, economic, political, and social factors impacting the experience of African American males in the United States. Topics may include Black male/female relationships, sexuality, self-determination, criminal justice system, family unit, community, and media representations. Prerequisite: AAS 100, or AAS 251, or consent of instructor.

313 (Cross-listed with HIST 313) African American History, 1400–1877. (3) (General Education/ Multicultural Studies) A survey of African American experiences in North America from 1400 to 1877. Not open to students with credit for HIST 313. Prerequisite: HIST 105 or AAS 100 or consent of instructor.

314 (Cross-listed with HIST 314) African American History, 1877–Present. (3) (General Education/ Multicultural Studies) A survey of the African American experiences in the United States since 1877. Not open to students with credit for HIST 314. Prerequisite: HIST 106 or AAS 100 or consent of instructor.

320 Black Male and Female Relationships. (3) Examination of contemporary societal problems affecting Black female-male relationships in the Americas including the effects of slavery; quality of relationships, sexism, economics, male scarcity, the Black community, family dynamics, institution of marriage, and relationship improvement strategies. Prerequisite: AAS 100 or 251 or consent of the instructor.

325 The Black Family. (3) An analysis of structures and functions of Black family life in the United States, with emphasis on adaptive features. Some attention is also given to the African and Caribbean family.

327 (Cross-listed with POLS 327) African Politics. (3) This course examines the nature of institutions and political rule in Africa before and after independence. Key topics include the colonial inheritance, ethnicity and social characteristics of African societies, and the nature and role of political institutions. Not open to students with credit in POLS 327. Prerequisite: POLS 267 or permission of instructor.

336 (Cross-listed with WS 336) Womanist Theory & Perspectives. (3) Introduction to African and African American women’s perspective, to enhance interest and understanding of the existing wide range of feminist scholarship in the U.S., and other feminine discourses pertaining to activism/contributions of Black women in Africa, the U.S., the Caribbean, and Europe. Not open to students with credit for WS 336. Prerequisite: AAS 100 or AAS 145 or AAS/WS 310 or WS 190 or permission of instructor.

346 (Cross-listed with ENG 346) African American Fiction. (3) A survey of selected African American short stories and novels from the beginning to the present, from Brown, Johnson, and Toomer to Ellison, Baldwin, Morrison, and beyond. Not open to students with credit in ENG 346. Prerequisite: AAS/ENG 245, or ENG 299 with a grade of C or better, or consent of instructor.

349 (Cross-listed with HIST 349) Africa since 1800. (3) (General Education/Multicultural Studies) A study of major themes from 1800 to the present from an African perspective: slave trade and its abolition, European colonialism, independence movements, and problems of independence. Not open to students with credit in HIST 349. Prerequisite: HIST 116 or consent of instructor.

354(Cross-listed with ENG 354) African Americans in American Film. (3) Analysis of the representation of African Americans in American films as a way to consider how imagery affects society’s attitudes about race. Films from early 20th century depictions of mammies to the 1990s hiphop sagas will be examined. Not open to students with credit in ENG 354. Prerequisite: AAS 100 or consent of instructor.

360 African American Communities. (3) A study of development, demographic characteristics, social institutions, social stratification, and rural- urban differences of Black communities in the U.S. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of instructor.

370 African American Interest Groups and Organizations. (3) An examination of African American interest groups organized around themes important to the African American community, analyzing the techniques and strategies used to shape U.S. policies and laws. Prerequisite: AAS 102 or consent of the instructor.

380 Media and the Black Experience. (3) A survey of the Black experience in the media, radio, television, cinema, and advertising. The course shall examine the roles of media in the Black struggle for equality in class, race, and gendered society. Emphasis may vary by semester. Prerequisite: AAS 100 or BC 323 or BC 328, or the consent of the instructor.

381 Modern African Literature. (3) A survey of African literature, both oral and written. This course will focus attention on the social, cultural, and political movements of modern Africa as presented in its literature.

400 Social and Political Thought of Black Americans. (3) An analysis and critique of ideologies relating to the achievement of full citizenship of Black Americans with emphases on: abolition, emigration, assimilation, nationalism, and Pan-Africanism. Prerequisite: junior standing or consent of instructor.

402 (Cross-listed with HIST 402) The Civil Rights Movement. (3) An intensive study of the history of the African American civil rights movement, concentrating on the period from World War II through the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1978 Bakke decision. Not open to students with credit for HIST 402. Prerequisites: at least junior standing and either HIST 106 or AAS 100; or consent of instructor. Directed Elective Area I.

404 African Americans in the Age of Obama. (3) An examination of the trajectory of President Barack Obama’s life and his impact on the status of African Americans. Prerequisite: AAS 102 or consent of instructor.

415 African Americans and Sport in the United States. (3) An examination of how organized athletics have served as symbolic sites of protest, power, and inclusion for African Americans and other minorities in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. Prerequisite: AAS 102 or consent of instructor.

417 Black Greek-Lettered Organizations. (3) An examination of the role and mission of historical existence, culture, and contemporary issues facing Black Greek-lettered organizations in the United States. Prerequisite: AAS 102 or consent of instructor.

420 (Cross-listed with SOC 420 and WS 420) Race, Class, and Gender. (3) The course will examine issues of race, class, and gender in historical, cultural, and contemporary societal contexts. Not open to students with credit in SOC 420 or WS 420. Prerequisite: AAS 100, or SOC 100, or WS 190; or permission of instructor.

425 African Americans, Corporate America, and Diversity. (3) An examination of racial and gender discrimination in American corporations. It explores the origins of Black businesses, Black independent self- help enterprises, and the agency of African Americans forging their own economic liberations through business activities and entrepreneurship. Prerequisite: AAS 102 or consent of instructor.

444 The Teaching of African American Studies. (3) A study and development of African American Studies curricula. Includes a study of the problems and procedures of teaching African American Studies, supervised study, pupils’ activities, organization, and development of teaching materials.

445 Critical Issues in the Education of African Americans. (3) Study of African Americans’ historical and contemporary struggles for educational access, equity, and excellence. Special emphasis given to the achievement gap, standardized testing, dropout/ retention rates, and alternatives to the sponsored curriculum such as Afrocentric education and culturally relevant pedagogy. Prerequisite: AAS 100 or instructor’s consent.

446 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Desegregation. (3) An examination of the evolution and growth of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and desegregation in the United States. Prerequisite: AAS 302 or 445 or consent of instructor.

451 Research Methods in African American Studies. (3) An analysis of basic research methods used in African American Studies. It introduces, researches, and applies historical, anthropological, behavioral, and critical methods to African American Studies, viewed from an African-centered perspective. Writing Instruction in the Disciplines (WID) course. Prerequisites: 9 s.h. of AAS core courses and junior standing, or permission of instructor, and ENG 280.

466 (Cross-listed with GEOG 466—Africa) Geography of Africa. (3, repeatable for different regional subtitles to 9) (Global Issues) Analysis of the physical and cultural geography of Africa. Not open to students with credit for GEOG 466—Africa. Individuals who receive credit for AAS 466—Africa may take 6 s.h. maximum of GEOG 466 if the regional subtitles are different. Prerequisite: two courses in Geography or consent of instructor.

483 African Film and Cinema. (3) Study of African film and cinema in different parts of Africa with emphasis on colonial cinema and cinema houses and on contemporary films and home videos as elements of modern popular culture in Africa. Prerequisite: AAS 281, 380, or consent of instructor.

484 African Americans and the Fine Arts. (3) An interdisciplinary survey of the history and evolution of African American creative expression in the fine arts. Images, symbols, styles, techniques/content will be examined as well as the influence of social, political, and religious structures on the works of representative artists. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing or consent of the instructor.

488 Black Speech and Language Communication. (3) Course covers historical and contemporary development and practice of Black communication behaviors. Pre-diasporan influences on Black communication styles, the role of oral communication during slavery, and issues such as the ongoing contentious debates about the use of Ebonics will be explored. Prerequisites: AAS 100 and junior standing, or permission of instructor.

490 Independent Study. (2–4, repeatable to 4) Individual study of a particular topic in the field of African American Studies.

491 Seminar in African American Studies. (1–6, repeatable to 6) Topics will vary from semester to semester, and will be announced prior to registration. Prerequisites: AAS 100 and junior standing, or consent of instructor.

494 (Cross-listed with REL 494) Religion in African American Culture. (3) This course acquaints students with religiosity and spirituality among African Americans and provides understanding of a world view, via concepts of nature, God, and human interaction, that reflects African cultural retentions in the U.S. Not open to students with credit for REL 494. Prerequisites: AAS 100 and junior standing, or one 100- or 200-level Religious Studies course, or permission of instructor.

498 Individual Study. (1–3, repeatable to 3) Individual study of an approved research topic. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing or consent of the instructor.

499 Internship in AAS. (1–12, repeatable to 12) Supervised work assignments in applied occupational area involving specific projects in areas related to African American Studies. A maximum of 6 s.h. may be counted toward the African American Studies major. Prerequisites: permission of department chair; junior or senior standing; minimum 2.0 GPA.