History | Black Women in America-to 1980
A379 | 17067 | Myers
Above class open to undergraduates and Education MA’s only
Black women’s history is a revealing witness to two intertwined
categories of identity that have profoundly shaped the course of
American history: race and gender. The history of this field demands
that students confront racial identity as something formed in
dialogue with other aspects of identity including gender, class,
religion, sexuality, regional loyalties and national affiliation.
Over the semester, students will become familiar with the major
issues in African-American women’s history and develop a historical
perspective on race and gender as things which are socially
constructed as opposed to unchanging, natural or rooted in physical
difference. In short, in addition to analyzing the various
historical conditions under which black women have labored for self-
definition and autonomy, we will seek to understand the ways in
which raced and gendered identities have been invented and
reinvented in the American context.
To this end, we will utilize some of the newest research in black
women’s history in our examination of black women’s lives from the
days of colonial enslavement to the 1980’s. Topics for discussion
will include enslavement and resistance; the lives of free black
women; family life; labor and sexuality; religion and activism;
migration; the creative arts; Civil Rights and Black Power;
affirmative action; education, health care and poverty; crime; and
Attendance is mandatory and the course will require roughly 80 pages
of reading per week. Time in class will involve informal lectures as
well as regular group discussions, and students will be evaluated
through their participation in class, small group work, and a
combination of take-home assignments and in-class exams.
Finally while there is no official prerequisite for this course,
this is an upper-level class and the materials will presume some
prior knowledge of basic American or African American history.