Carter g. Woodson institute

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108 Minor Hall

P.O. Box 400162

Charlottesville, VA 22904-4162

(434) 924-3109
(as of Oct. 30, 2007)

Spring 2007


Founded in 1981, the University of Virginia’s Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies is named in honor of native Virginian Carter Godwin Woodson. Born in 1875 in Buckingham County to parents who were formerly enslaved, Woodson would go on to be the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in history at Harvard University in 1912. He was instrumental in bringing professional recognition to the study of African-American history during a period when most historians held the opinion that African Americans were a people without history. Woodson was the founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and its scholarly journal The Journal of Negro History. Under his leadership, Negro History Week was inaugurated in the United States as an annual celebration of African-American achievement.

At the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, our goal is to continue the pioneering work of our namesake through an active program of undergraduate teaching and curriculum development, original interdisciplinary research; institutional and financial support of scholars; conferences and colloquia; publications and public outreach projects. The Woodson Institute promotes interdisciplinary and collaborative research and interpretation of the African and African-American experience in a global context. It links research and writing in African-American and African studies to undergraduate teaching. Throughout its history, the Woodson Institute has guided the University's African-American and African Studies major, offered graduate students doing work of topical interest an intellectual home, and received national and international acclaim for the success of its residential fellowship program.


Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton (, Interim Director

Religious Studies Department
Reginald D. Butler (

History Department

Ellen Contini-Morava (

Anthropology Department

Scott K. DeVeaux (

Music Department

Scot French (

History Department

Claudrena Harold (

History Department
Adria LaViolette (

Anthropology Department

John Mason (

History Department

Benjamin C. Ray (

Religious Studies Department

Marlon Ross (

English Department

Milton Vickerman (

Sociology Department

Melvin N. Wilson (

Psychology Department

In January 1997, new requirements for a major in African-American and African Studies [AAS] became effective. Declared majors were not affected by these changes, however, new majors will be required to abide by the new requirements. Also, beginning Fall 1997, the AAS program implemented a Distinguished Majors Program. Current third-year AAS majors with a GPA of at least 3.4 are eligible (a full description of the program is included in this directory).

The African-American and African Studies interdisciplinary major comprises 9 courses (29 credit hours) taken with a program approved by any member of the AAS Steering Committee, who will act as the student's advisor. These courses may include courses taken before declaration of the major. In order to declare a major, a student must have taken AAS 101 and 102 and earned a grade of C or better in each course. Students must have an average 2.0 in the major for it to be considered complete.
The major requires a distribution of courses in the following areas and levels, which must be selected from the AAS Course Offering Directory.
1. AAS 101 and 102.
2. One course concerning race and politics in the United States.
3. One course in the humanities: Art History, Drama, English, French, Music, Philosophy, or Religious Studies.
4. One course in the social sciences or history: Anthropology, Economics, Government and Foreign Affairs, History, Psychology, Slavic Languages, or Sociology. This course must be in addition to AAS 101 and 102.
5. One course about Africa, which may fulfill requirements 3-4 above.
6. Four courses above the 300 level, which may fulfill requirements 2-5 above.
7. One 400 level seminar requiring a research paper, which may fulfill requirement 6 above.

Please note: While a single course may fulfill more than one requirement, students should remember that they must take a total of seven courses in addition to AAS 101 and 102 for a total of 29 credit hours.

Each semester, the African-American and African Studies program publishes a list of courses that satisfy the above requirements. Students should speak with an advisor if they have any questions about how to distribute the Major courses.

Students frequently find that African-American and African Studies works well as a double-major with another discipline in the humanities and social sciences. Up to 11 credits in another departmental major may count toward an AAS major, IF the courses are among those listed in the AAS Course Offering Directory. Up to 6 transfer credits from relevant study abroad programs may be counted toward the major, with the advance written permission of the AAS Undergraduate Studies Director. Up to 3 credits of an appropriate language course may be counted toward the major.
Exceptions to any of these requirements will be made only upon written petition to the AAS Undergraduate Studies Director. No petitions will be accepted after the completion of a student's seventh semester.
DECLARING A MAJOR Students considering a major or minor in African-American and African Studies may consult any member of the Steering Committee.
The procedure for declaring a major in African-American and African Studies are:

  • Pick up a Declaration of Major form in Garrett Hall.

  • Fill in section pertaining to courses you have already taken.

  • Consult with the AAS Undergraduate Studies Director concerning the assignment of a faculty advisor. Bring the Declaration of Major form and a copy of your PACE form.

  • Consult with your advisor about courses which you have taken or plan to take to fulfill the AAS requirements. Have the faculty advisor sign the form. (NOTE: At the end of this directory, there is a AAS Major worksheet to help you organize your studies.)

  • Return the form to the Carter G. Woodson Institute, Minor Hall 108.

AAS MINOR REQUIREMENTS A Minor in African-American and African Studies comprises the following:

In order to declare a minor, a student must have taken AAS 101 and 102 and earned a grade of C or better in each course.

1. AAS 101 and 102.

2. Twelve credit hours, in addition to AAS 101 and 102, selected from the AAS Course Offering Directory.
3. An average of 2.0 in all courses counted under this requirement.


  • Pick up a Declaration of Minor form at the Carter G. Woodson Institute, Minor Hall 108.

  • Fill in section pertaining to courses you have already taken.

  • Consult with the AAS Undergraduate Studies Director concerning the assignment of an AAS faculty advisor.

  • Return the form, along with a copy of your PACE form, to the Carter G. Woodson Institute, Minor Hall 108.

Independent Study in AAS 401 allows students to work on an individual research project. Students wishing to pursue this option should pick up an information sheet at the Woodson Institute, which explains the procedure and requirements. Students must propose a topic to an appropriate faculty member, submit a written proposal for his/her approval, prepare an extensive annotated bibliography on relevant readings comparable to the reading list of a regular upper-level course, and complete a research paper of at least 20 pages.
Distinguished Majors Program in African-American and African Studies. Third-year students with superior academic performance are encouraged to apply for the AAS Distinguished Majors Program (DMP) in which they conduct research and write a thesis demonstrating originality and independent study of high quality. Participants are eligible for graduation with distinction. The requirements for admission to the DMP are:
1. Satisfaction of all College requirements as stated in the Undergraduate Record with a GPA of at least 3.4 in all University courses.
2. Permission of an advisor. This person may be any faculty member who teaches courses listed in the AAS Course Offering Directory, willing to supervise the thesis. Permission should be sought no later than the second semester of the third year. The supervisor's written approval of the topic must be secured by the students and filed at the Carter G. Woodson Institute.
3. Like the AAS Major, the DMP comprises 29 credit hours. Participants must fulfill the distribution requirements for the Major (see AAS Major requirements 1-5). DMP participants must complete at least 6 hours of course work above the 400 level, in addition to the 6 hours specific to preparation of the thesis, outlined below.
Once the advisor has been secured, the student should seek two additional faculty members who agree to read the thesis. The student registers for three credits of AAS 451 (Directed Research) in the first semester of the fourth year. In this course, the student conducts research for, and writes the first draft of, his or her thesis. In the second semester, the student registers for AAS 452 (Thesis) and revises the draft based on the committee's recommendations, producing a finished thesis of about 8,000 words or 40 pages, which must be approved by the committee and deposited at the Carter G. Woodson Institute. The thesis committee will make a recommendation to the AAS Steering Committee for final approval of the thesis. Any student seeking help in setting up this program should see his or her major advisor.


AAS 102 - Crosscurrents of the African Diaspora (4)

Instructor: Claudrena Harold

TR 12:30 – 13:45

WIL 301
This introductory course builds upon the histories of people of African descent in Africa, the Americas, and the Caribbean surveyed in AAS 101. Drawing on disciplines such as Anthropology, History, Religious Studies, Political Science and Sociology, the course focuses on the period from the late 19th century to the present and is comparative in perspective. It examines the links and disjunctions between communities of African descent in the United States and in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa. The course begins with an overview of AAS, its history, assumptions, boundaries, and topics of inquiry, and then proceeds to focus on a number of inter-related themes: patterns of cultural experience; community formation; comparative racial classification; language and society; family and kinship; religion; social and political movements; arts and aesthetics; and archaeology of the African Diaspora.

AAS 305 – African Politics, Literature, and Film (3)

Instructor: Andrew Lawrence

T 15:30-1800

WIL 141A
This course analyzes the intersection of the cultural and the political in contemporary sub-Saharan Africa through the media of literature and film. Together with background works discussing African historical and political developments, students will analyze and discuss some of the finest exemplars of world literature and film, including the work of such directors as David Achkar, Souleymane Cisse, Djibril Diop-Mambety, Flora Gomes, Gaston Kabore, Thomas Magotlane, Sembene Ousmane, Cheick Oumar Sissoko, and Jean-Marie Teno; and the work of authors including Chinua Achebe, J.M. Coetzee, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Bessie Head, Dambudzo Marechera, Zakes Mda, Njabulo Ndlebele, Sembene Ousmane, and Ngugi wa Thiongo. Themes include representations of Africa's precolonial and colonial past, negotiations of its present post-colonial realities, state and social power, changing gender relations, and traditions and modernities. Students will also evaluate the ways in which aesthetic approaches describe political themes; that is, the politics of culture as well as the culture of politics.

AAS 307: Afro-Brazilian History (3)

Instructor: Roquinaldo Ferreira

TR 12:30-13:45

GIL 141

This class will survey the history of Brazil from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries by highlighting issues related to the Afro-Brazilian population. The largest country in Latin America, Brazil was by far the single largest destination of the slave trade from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. No other country outside Africa has a larger population of African-descendants. The class deals with issues such as the rise of African slavery in sixteenth century Brazil, Brazilian links with West Africa and Central Africa until the mid-nineteenth century, Afro-Brazilian religions, resistance to slavery, and abolitionism. The class takes an approach to Brazilian history that emphasizes Brazil’s deep social, commercial and cultural links with Africa. In addition to lectures, movies/documentaries will be shown. Readings might include the following books: Hendrik Kraay, Afro-Brazilian Culture and Politics: Bahia, 1790s-1990s (NY, 1998); Matthew Restall (ed.), Beyond Black and Red: African-Native Relations in Colonial Latin America (Albuquerque, 2005); Stuart Schwartz, Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Bahia, 1550-1835 (Cambridge, 1988); Alida Metcalf, Go-Betweens and the Colonization of Brazil: 1500-1600 (Austin, 2006); Laura de Mello e Souza, The Devil and the Land of the Holy Cross: Witchcraft, Slavery, and Popular Religion in Colonial Brazil (Austin, 2004); James Sweet, Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship, and Religion in the African-Portuguese World, 1441-1770 (Chapel Hill, 2003); David Eltis, Economic Growth and the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New York, 1987). (This course is cross-listed with HIST 307)

AAS 401: Independent Study (1-3)

Topic and requirements to be determined by the instructor and the student

AAS 402: Black Atlantic 1550-1850 (4)

Instructor: Roquinaldo Ferreira

R 15:30-18:00

CAB 335

This reading and discussion seminar problematizes the notion of the “Black Atlantic” as a conceptual framework to analyze the forced migration of Africans throughout the Atlantic. The class will place the development of the concept of the Black Atlantic against the backdrop of work by African-American and Caribbean intellectuals that argued for a pan-Africanist standpoint while analyzing the history of the African diaspora. The class combines readings in theory and methodology with readings dealing with the actual experiences of cultural and social interaction between Africans and Europeans around the Atlantic. It deals with issues such as mestiçagem, the formation of creole societies in Africa, and identity. Most of classes focus on the Northern Atlantic, but the class will also draw on examples from the Latin America – mainly Brazil – and Lusophone Africa. Readings include Herman Bennett, “The Subject in the Plot: National Boundaries and the ‘History’ of the Black Atlantic”, African Studies Review, 43 (2000); Charles Piot, “Atlantic Aporias: Africa and Gilroy’s Black Atlantic”. The South Atlantic Quarterly 100:1, Winter; Kristin Mann, “Shifting Paradigms in the Study of the African Diaspora and of Atlantic History and Culture”, Slavery and Abolition, 2001. (This course is cross-listed as HIST 402A)
AAS 406A: Black Atlantic Representations of Violence (3)

Instructor: Régine Jean-Charles

M 15:30-18:00

This course examines the phenomenon of violence in African-American, Caribbean, and African literatures and the development of discourses and the representations of violence throughout these literary histories. As we investigate these representations, we will also study discourses of violence along with some of the major debates surrounding violence in postcolonial contexts. In order to do so we will begin with Paul Gilroy’s concept on the shaping violence of The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. We will then travel through major historical moments in African Caribbean, and African-American literature in order to observe how representations of violence function in these contexts. To complement our conception of violence we will also refer to Hanna Arendt’s On Violence and Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World in order to situate the question of violence in a broader context. By framing our inquiry with Gilroy’s text, we initiate a movement that places emphasis on a network of ideas rather than geographic space. Thus the class is divided into two sections: the first “Moments in Black Atlantic Literatures,” does not chart a literal historic timeline, but rather a thematic one by looking at novels written in or based on particular moments in the histories of the Black Atlantic, in particular ancient times, slavery, colonization and deconolization. The second section, “Currents in Black Atlantic Literatures” is grouped around five categories that explore reappearing currents of significant cultural, social, historical, and political impact: immigration/migrations, sexual violence, state-sponsored violence, war and genocide. Through theoretical reading drawn from the fields of philosophy, trauma studies, feminist theory and postcolonial studies we will explore different ways of representing, reading, framing, and understanding violence in Black Atlantic literatures.

AAS 406B: Racial Geographies of Virginia (3)

Instructor: Ian Grandison

W 15:30-18:00

CAB 432
Even though its boundaries have become more uncertain, several notions still conjure the discipline of geography. Geography, we can reasonably assert, involves the objective investigation of places with the central purpose-albeit unspoken-of cataloging the earth's surface relative to opportunities and constraints for exploitation by humans. How does "race" fit into this project of geography? Does "human geography" or the headings, "demography," "population," "people," or "occupation" (intermingled as they are with such headings as "physical characteristics," "climate," "transport," or "towns") allow for engaging "race" critically as it is engaged in, say, cultural studies? To foreground this issue, in this experimental seminar, I am introducing the idea, "racial geography." Drawing on case-studies from the State of Virginia-including its historical configurations-we will try to develop themes and concepts to elucidate this idea. Consider, for example, the implications of a race-inflected exploration in the popular sub-discipline, urban geography. Quantitative and geometric models of urban distribution or pragmatic theories of urban siteing are of little use in understanding the location of Washington DC. No consideration of the "rank" and "size" of adjacent urban centers or of proximity to deep water for harbors or to gaps in a mountain barrier can explain this city was placed where it was placed at the turn of the nineteenth century. Why did the city, named after the foundingest of the founding fathers, remain a backwater for so long after the federal government relocated there? Chattel slavery was the reason for which urban location theory cannot account. It predetermined the fate of rival cities such as Quaker Philadelphia. It influenced the geography of the Civil War, and it explains why the Chesapeake from time to time still inundates facilities such as the National Archives as it seeks to reclaim its brackish swamps. Requirements of the seminar will include a mid-term exam and a research paper of 15 pages. Students should already have or be ready to develop the facility of interpreting and producing maps and other graphic materials. At the beginning of the semester, students will be asked to explain their motivations for wanting to participate in the seminar.

AAS 406C: Black Power and Revolutionary Politics

Instructor: Claudrena Harold

T 15:30-18:00

CAB 236
Tracing black women and men’s quest for political, economic, and cultural power from the Depression Years to the present, this seminar examines African Americans’ collective efforts to eradicate what philosopher Cornel West refers to as the “pervasive evil of unjustified suffering and unnecessary social misery in our world.” Significant attention will be given to black intellectuals and activists’ debates over the best way to deal with the economic consequences of white supremacy and global capitalism, the usefulness of armed self-defense as a weapon in the fight against racial injustice, and the problem of sexism within the black liberation movement.  To better understand the diversity and breadth of black oppositional activity in the twentieth-century, students will examine the protest activities of a number of black leaders, cultural artists, and movement organizations. Organizations and activists to be examined include but are not limited to W.E.B. Du Bois,  Paul Robeson and the Council of African Affairs, Ella Baker and SNCC, Malcolm X and the Organization of Afro-American Unity, Angela Davis and the American Communist Party, Amiri Baraka and the Black Arts Movement, Huey Newton and the Black Panther Party, Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Toni Cade Bambara, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, and the more recent Black Radical Congress.  Over the course of the semester, students will be introduced to the research methods and techniques used by historians.  We will not only explore historians’ use of oral and written texts, but will also reflect on the ways in which scholars’ theoretical and political viewpoints inform their interpretation of primary sources.  Students will have the opportunity to further develop their historical skills through a series of assignments designed to assist them in identifying research topics and questions; interpreting primary texts; and substantiating arguments with historical evidence. (This course is cross-listed as HIUS 401K)

AAS 406 E - Afro-Brazilian Civilization (3)

Instructor: David Haberly

MWF 11:00-11:50

CAB 320
A general introduction, in English, to the literature and culture of Brazil from 1500 to the present, with special emphasis upon the role of Afro-Brazilians in the creation of that literature and culture. No knowledge of Portuguese is required, and lectures and readings will be in English. The course includes discussions of the nation's social and historical development, but these topics will be presented through readings in the major works of Brazilian literature, including the works of important Afro-Brazilian authors. (Enrollment restricted to participants in Brazil Study Abroad program. Cross-listed with POTR 427.)

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