Michael Jackson and Performance of Blackness

Examines the Black Performance context that produced Jackson’s singular creative genius within the realms of music, movement and politics, including the influence of Black vernacular practices like signifying and sampling, the network of Black social spaces known as the Chitlin’ Circuit, the impact of Black migration patterns to urban spaces in the Midwest, and Black performance traditions including Blackface minstrelsy. One course.

The History of Hip-Hop

What began as a localized activity designed to provide a safe haven for Black and Latino youth in New York City, has become a global brand that has had a documented impact on the cultural, political and economic realities of youth throughout the globe. This course will examine the organic social and cultural foundations of Hip-Hop, as well as the key aesthetic innovators/innovations, and the debates that have arisen over Hip-hop’s increased influence. One course.

Sampling Soul

Examines how the concept of “Soul” has functioned as raw data for contemporary forms of cultural expression. Considers the broader cultural implications of sampling, in the practices of parody and collage, and the legal ramifications of sampling within the context of intellectual property law. Course also offers the opportunity to rethink the concept of archival material in the digital age. One course.

The Wire

Examines all 60 episodes of the HBO series “The Wire.” Described as “socially robust” by one television scholar, the series dramatizes the real world experiences of poor, mostly African American, residents of Baltimore struggling to survive by way of the underground drug economy, while city officials and the police department strive to bring the illegal trade in check. The course brings all 60 episodes into conversation with relevant texts in anthropology, sociology, cultural geography, queer and literary theory. Requirements include weekly blog entries and a final keyword project.

Black Popular Culture

The production and circulation of African American popular cultural forms including, but not limited to, popular literature, music, film, television, and art in the twentieth century. The ways in which African American popular culture may reflect the particular values and ethos of African Americans and the larger American society. Topics may include black cinema, blues and jazz music, black nationalism, hip hop, black social movements, blacks and sports culture, popular dance, and the cultural history of black style. One course.

Visualizing the Caribbean

Art (paintings, installations, performance art) and film on the Caribbean offer vantage points for analyzing alternative ways through which the region has been thought, imagined and produced. They are periodized semiotic productions that feed into and are marked by perspectives that are at once global, national, and even personal. Considering the constitutive contexts of these productions and performances, we will attempt to glean the diverse perspectives, and the way these have influenced sociocultural policy and offer alternative interpretations of diasporic lifeways of Caribbean people.

Black Dance

Exploration of composition and performance structures commonly described as black dance. Working with cultural criticism contemporary with emergent modes of black dance, assesses political motivations and aesthetic strategies of artists and writers working explicitly in this idiom. Considers possibility of black dance performed by people of First World, European, and Asian descent. Examines concert dance, social dance, religious dance. One course.