Department of African and Afro-American Studies

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Department of African and Afro-American Studies

112 Faculty Office Building
(585) 395-2470

Chairperson: John K. Marah; Associate Professor: Marah; Professor(s): F. Nwabueze Okoye; Professor Emeritus: Ena L. Farley.

The Department of African and Afro-American Studies (AAS) articulates, in intellectual terms, the actual life experiences of Africans and people of African descent in North and South America and the Caribbean. Thus, students may utilize studies in AAS for any purpose in order to satisfy personal, educational and professional goals. The AAS major or minor offers students the sensitivity to minority issues and concerns that will stand the graduate in good stead when seeking private- or public-sector employment. Indeed, students who take AAS courses can capitalize on the increasing interest of private sector employers in recruiting personnel who are aware of minority issues and concerns.

AAS majors go into graduate school; into appointments at federal, state and local levels; into the various United Nations agencies; and into fields as diverse as banking, business, counseling, teaching, international studies, journalism, and labor relations.

Major Program

Basic components of the program, consisting of the core area as well as the supplementary fields within the major, are organized around the liberal arts disciplines. The core area subjects are selected from topics on Africa, on African-Americans in the United States, on the Caribbean and on other parts of the Third World.

Majors must complete 36 credits. These 36 credits must include 12 credits from the basic core and 24 credits from upper-division work offered by the department. After successfully completing 12 credits of introductory work, students are encouraged to select a liberal arts discipline in which to specialize. At least 12 of the 24 credits of required upper-division work must be in the chosen area of specialization.

Required Basic Core (12 credits):

Complete four of the following five courses:

  • AAS 104 Institutional Racism
  • AAS 113 Introduction to Afro-American History
  • AAS 204 African Politics & Society
  • AAS 235 Introduction to Afro-American Literature
  • AAS 278 Afro-American Music and Culture

Required Upper-division Courses (24 credits):

  1. In the area of specialization, at least 12 credits.
  2. Electives, by advisement, to complete 24 credits. These remaining 12 credits are selected from the Department of African and Afro-American Studies or, where necessary, from other departments by advisement from the Department of African and Afro-American Studies.

Minor Program

Minors must complete 18 credits in courses offered by the department. These must include six credits of basic core courses and 12 additional upper-division credits of department courses.

African and Afro-American Courses

AAS 104 Institutional Racism (A,D). Pursues three major goals designed to enhance students' intellectual understanding of racism. Familiarizes students with the history and development of racist institutions in America. Engages students in an examination of the structure, or "anatomy" of contemporary race relations in its interconnections with racial stereotypes and prejudice. Explores the psychological dimensions of racism, that is, how racism manifests itself in individual and group contexts. 3 Cr. Every Semester.

AAS 113 Introduction to Afro-American History (A,D).

Cross-listed as HST 113. Examines the historical experience and conditions of persons of African descent within the American historical milieu. 3 Cr. Every Semester.

AAS 203 Africa: Ancient and Precolonial (A).

Explores the diversity of people and cultures in Africa from the earliest period of human history; Africa's historical foundation and historical development. 3 Cr.

AAS 204 African Politics and Society (A).

Introduces students to the basic problems confronting Africa as a continent in the contemporary world. 3 Cr. Spring.

AAS 213 African Legacy (A).

Provides a detailed examination of the nature of Africa's past, with specific attention to the manner in which song, dance, storytelling and history become interwoven into one aspect of life. 3 Cr.

AAS 232 African Music and Drumming for Dance (A,P).

Cross-listed as DNS 232. Provides a study of selected traditional musical instruments for dance accompaniment and the development of performance skills and techniques through studio and live performance applications. Explores traditional styles and their social and artistic needs for formal religious and recreational application, as w ell as modern educational and cultural usages in African schools and colleges. 3 Cr. Every Semester.

AAS 235 Introduction to Afro-American Literature (A,H).

Cross-listed as ENL 235. Provides an introductory survey of the literature of people of African ancestry in the Americas. Acquaints students with major literary figures and significant historical periods through a discussion of issues regarding the relationship between the writers and socio-political and cultural movements, and of questions concerning the socio-cultural function that the black writer serves for his/her community. 3 Cr. Every Semester.

AAS 278 Afro-American Music and Culture (A).

Cross-listed as FA 278. Provides a basic history of black American music and related aspects of theatre, dance and literature from the 17th century to today. 3 Cr.

AAS 301 Brockport Career Exploration Course (BCEC) (A).

Encourages sophomores, juniors and seniors to investigate a specific career area through a placement in an area of human service agency, governmental office or classroom. Allows students to work under the guidance of an immediate supervisor and College faculty sponsor, and participate in workshops through the Career Services Office. 3 Cr. Every Semester.

AAS 302 History of South Africa (A,S).

Examines several milestones in South African history, including the Mfecane, the Union Act, the formation of the African National Congress, the rise of the National Party, the Sharpeville massacre, the black consciousness movement, and the Soweto and Sebokeng uprisings. 3 Cr.

AAS 307 Writing About the Black Experience (A).

Explores the black experience through writing with a detailed examination of African peoples' social, cultural, and literary responses to the modern zeitgeist. Aims to increase students' response repertoire and writing abilities about African peoples' social, cultural and literary traditions. 3 Cr.

AAS 310 Urban Black Politics (A,S).

Provides a study of the historical processes leading to larger urban black populations: forces permitting and restraining the exercise of political power in the urban black context; position of various black leaders and groups and their relationship with urban government; and the need for alternative strategies for the exercise of power. 3 Cr.

AAS 313 Slavery in the Antebellum South (A,U,D).

Cross-listed as HST 313. Provides a study of some of the dynamics of slavery in the South between 1800 and 1860. Examines first-hand accounts of observers and the political, economic and racial implications of this system. Compares U.S. plantation slavery to other slave systems in the Americas. Encourages students to borrow from the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, literature, economics, as well as from political and intellectual history. 3 Cr.

AAS 314 The Black Family (A).

Cross-listed as SOC 314. Provides a study of the socio-cultural, political and economic conditions that afflict black family life. Confronts the pejorative tradition as the primary modality for examining black family life; and explores the African antecedents and continuities that have influenced the black family in the U.S. 3 Cr. Fall.

AAS 315 Contemporary Black Woman (A,I,W,D).

Cross-listed as WMS 315. Eclectically explores the various positions and roles played by black women in contemporary times against their historical backdrop. Focuses on the roles of black women in traditional and contemporary contexts in Africa; black women in rural and urban areas and in the Caribbean; and professional black women and their characteristics. 3 Cr. Every Semester.

AAS 317 Prejudice, Personality and Culture (A).

Cross-listed as SOC 317. Explores the historical and social conditions in which prejudice arises; social functions of prejudice and its psycho-social manifestations; the impact of prejudice and discrimination upon social and race relations in mass societies; and theories of prejudice. 3 Cr. Every Semester.

AAS 322 Gospel Music I (A).

Cross-listed as MUS 322. Provides history of Black American Gospel Music and its relationship to contemporary music forms; includes performances of gospel music. 1 Cr.

AAS 330 African Dance II (A).

Cross-listed as DNS 330. Prerequisite: AAS 232 or DNS 200. Provides for a study of rhythm through movement games; use of the materials of dance as an introduction to formal dances; African dance in the service of specific social needs; and the background of the dances. Requires performances.
3 Cr.

AAS 332 Urban Economic Problems (A).

Cross-listed as ECN 332. Examines important urban economic issues, such as the location of economic activity, the ghetto and poverty, land use, suburbanization, housing, urban renewal, transportation, education, crime, public finance, growth and planning. Evaluates local and national policies. 3 Cr. Fall.

AAS 339 Writings by Afro-American Women (A,U,W,D).

Cross-listed as ENL 339 and WMS 339. Explores literary representations of women in Afro-American fiction from the Harlem Renaissance to today. Examines the degree to which sexism, cultural stereotypes and racism influence the portrayals and functions of women in black American literature. To what extent is the author concerned with women's issues? How has the emergence of the feminist movement influenced contemporary authors? 3 Cr.

AAS 359 Black Church (A).

Cross-listed as SOC 359. Provides for an extended definition of the soul (essence) of the black church, and a critical analysis of the works of exponents of the theology of liberation in the light of the historical experience of black people. 3 Cr.

AAS 360 Africa Today (A,J,W,D).

Seeks to deepen students' understanding of contemporary Africa. Gives attention to issues which have profoundly affected the lives of multitudes on the second largest continent. Includes issues such as slavery, racism, colonialism and neocolonialism, desertification, hunger and malnutrition, civil wars, the problem of refugees, development and underdevelopment, and the reality of winds of change in Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. 3 Cr. Every Semester.

AAS 367 The African Novel (A).

Cross-listed as ENL 367. Examines major authors and movements in the development of the novel in Africa. Primary emphasis is on the texts themselves, but with attention to their social and historical contexts. 3 Cr.

AAS 370 Leadership Development I (A).

Cross-listed as EDI 370. Introduces basic leadership concepts and emphasizes effective leadership development. Also introduces theories of group process, problem-solving, communication, goal setting and organizational management. Includes topics such as motivation, team building, time management and decision making. Studies Afro-American, Hispanic and other ethnic group members in relationship to their leadership role in society. Involves students in directed community projects. 3 Cr. Fall.

AAS 371 Leadership Development II (A).

Cross listed as EDI 371. Focuses on major leadership/motivational theories and models that apply to contemporary issues in minority communities. Requires students to analyze and evaluate the theories and models. Expects students to design and apply a leadership/motivational model to a community project. 3 Cr. Spring.

AAS 404 Cultures of Sub-Saharan Africa (A).

Cross-listed as ANT 404/504. Explores the rich African heritage by means of a critical review of selected African ethnographic studies with particular focus on topics such as: subsistence agriculture, trade, kinship, political systems, urban life, and religion. Serves a broad spectrum of students to contribute to the need to understand the increasing global interdependence and cultural diversity of the present age. 3 Cr.

AAS 408 Pan-Africanism (A).

Historians of this global movement have tended to represent it as a 20th-century phenomenon. This is an erroneous view since the essentials of the ideology of Pan-Africanism existed y ears before the word entered dictionaries in 1900. Seeks to grapple with Pan-Africanism ideologically and practically. 3 Cr. Fall.

AAS 410 Apartheid (A,J,D).

Attempts to use certain realities of post-1948 South Africa to cast light on a racial conflict that has raged for more than 500 years over the broad issues of hegemony and economic resources. Grapples with issues such as human rights, the role of international capitalism in development and underdevelopment, Balkanization, Pax Africana and human survival. 3 Cr. Spring.

AAS 416 Twentieth-Century Afro-American Issues (A,J,D).

Deals with the continuing problem of what place black Americans should have in the socio-political scheme, a problem of dramatic contemporary importance because compromise solutions during this century have been short-lived, and because American policies have global implications which could influence foreign policy outcomes in Africa. Requires students to use scholarly articles, monographs and contemporary newspapers as the bases for discussion.
3 Cr. Spring.

AAS 417 Cultural Heritage and the African-American Child (A).

Explores African-American creativity, as well as the despair African-Americans have and continue to exhibit in response to discrimination and opportunity. Contrasts children's game songs with the black English controversy. Examines the influence of social and educational policies on the behavior of African-Americans.
3 Cr. Spring.

AAS 419 Civil War and Reconstruction (A).

Cross-listed as HST 419. Provides an intensive study of the Civil War era (1848-1877). Includes an analysis of the slavery controversy in America and the military clash and national tragedy that followed. Assesses during the final weeks the impact of the war on America's social, political, economic and legal structure. 3 Cr.

AAS 420 Overseas Seminar in Africa (A).

Consists of lectures, discussions, on-site field trips and opportunities to interact with Africans. Introduces students to various aspects of life in Africa as seen in the history, economy, culture, arts, social change and political development of the country visited. 6 Cr.

AAS 428 Racial and Ethnic Relations (A,D).

Cross listed as SOC 428. Studies the role of race and ethnicity in social relations. Examines major theoretical orientations toward racial and ethnic stratification, as well as the consequences of inequality for both majority and minority groups. 3 Cr.

AAS 429 The Civil Rights Years (A).

Explores the theme that the Civil Rights Movement (WW II to today) is one of the most significant in our history, one that made America a more democratic society, gave rise to other movements which transformed the face of American culture, changed those who participated in it, and influenced and created a new generation of American leadership. Entails telecourse instruction with print, video and audio materials. 3 Cr.

AAS 433 African Dance III (A).

Cross-listed as DNS 433. Prerequisite: AAS 330 or instructor's per mission. Covers advanced dance for recreation and ceremonial dance, including festival, war, court and ritual forms. Enables students to develop a mental, emotional and aesthetic awareness of the performance of an African dance. Examines the role of the African dance in the service of society in campus and off-campus performances. 3 Cr.

AAS 435 Legal Rights of the Disadvantaged (A,I,W,D).

Cross-listed as PLS 435 and WMS 435. Gives students an understanding of ho w the U.S. legal system can improve the status of underprivileged persons, such as blacks, Latins, women, prisoners, the poor, students, American Indians, homosexuals, and those with mental and physical disabilities. 3 Cr. Fall.

AAS 460 Modern Africa (A,J).

Cross-listed as HST 460. Explores the major patterns in Africa's pre-modern history, the changes associated with colonial rule, the struggle for independence, and efforts to cope with the problems of development. Focuses on historical roots of contemporary African problems, including poverty, hunger, economic developments, political instability, Apartheid and others. 3 Cr.

AAS 476 Harlem Renaissance (A).

Cross-listed as ARH 476. Surveys painting, sculpture, photography and ceramics from the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Provides an overview of the period including literature, music and dance. 3 Cr.

AAS 485 The Jamaica Seminars (A).

Focuses on Caribbean society, and the area's cultural, sociological, economic, and political aspects. Entails field study in Jamaica. 3 Cr.

AAS 494 African Dance Ensemble (A).

Cross-listed as DNS 494. Prerequisites: AAS 232 and 433. Provides a study of advanced techniques in solo, duet and ensemble experience to explore special areas of drumming and dance; costuming and relationships to dances; and acquaintance with another dance culture and production methods. Entails class studies for lectures, demonstrations and performances. Includes video studies for discussion and examples of performance. 3 Cr.

AAS 499 Independent Study in AAS (A).

Arranged in consultation with the instructor/sponsor and in accordance with procedures of the Office of Academic Advisement prior to registration. 3 Cr.


Last Updated 7/21/22