History | Jezebel to Welfare Queen: Images of Black Women in U.S. History
A300 | 13836 | 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. Study 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
era of colonization 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 identity politics.
Attendance is mandatory and the course will require roughly 75 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 daily participation in class, small group work, and
Finally, there is no official prerequisite for this course, but this
is an upper-level class and the materials will presume prior
knowledge of basic American history.