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Course Descriptions

Beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year, the Department of Black Studies will offer a revised program of study for majors, minors and certificate students. These changes will make it easier for students to obtain any one of these degrees and will complement existing courses of study outside of the department. In addition, several of our courses have been revised, new ones added and a few deleted.

See the Course Planning Guide or the 2017-2020 Course Rotation Plan for course offerings. Once new courses have been approved, they will be added to the list below.


Black Studies Courses (effective Fall 2017)


BST 199 Special Studies (Credit to be arranged) 


BST 202 Introduction to Black Studies

Overview of African, African American, Afro-Latin@ and Caribbean studies and the historical and theoretical underpinnings of black studies and inter – and multidisciplinary fields of study.


BST 203 African American History I – Slavery to the Harlem Renaissance

Historical foundations of African Americans in the New World focusing on significant events and eras including slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Harlem Renaissance.


BST 204 African American History II – From the Depression Era to Civil Rights 
African Americans in the New World focusing on significant events and eras including the Great Depression, Black Migration, and the burgeoning civil rights era. 


BST 206 Caribbean Studies  

Interdisciplinary examination of the historical and cultural experience of the Caribbean and Afro-Latin@. Special attention will be given to issues in the creation of multicultural society, such as the dynamics of resistance and the interplay of cultural identity and political domination. 


BST 207 Race, Class, and Gender 

Analysis of the intersections of the socially constructed categories of race, class, and gender in African diasporic societies. 


BST 211 African Studies 

An introductory course designed to provide students with an understanding of methods and sources used by the historian of the African past. Museum visits, guest speakers, and films will supplement the lecture format. In addition to a survey of major themes and issues in the history of the African continent, the course will consider the rise of complex societies, indigenous African towns, agricultural and technological achievements, African state systems, and the impact of international trade and Islam on Africa.


BST 214 Contemporary Race and Ethnic Relations 

Addresses the origins and manifestations of the socio-historical concept of race. Critical theory approach is used to analyze the manner in which race has been interpreted and its influence on the socio-political relations between races and ethnic groupings. Emphasis on topical race issues.


BST 221 Introduction to African American Literature 

An overview of African American fiction, poetry, drama, and expository prose.


BST 261 The African American Economic Experience 

African Americans and the economic system. Overview of slave and peonage systems, sharecropping, occupational and employment discrimination, economic boycotts, welfare system, and the underground economy.


BST 302U The Contemporary African American Experience  

Survey course on the African American experience in the 20th and 21st centuries, including social conditions, family, economics, legal cases, race relations, arts.


BST 304U The Civil Rights Movement

Covers the history of the Civil Rights Movement from its early days during WWII through the end of the 1960s. Explores the social, political, economic, and legal challenges, movement leaders, organizations, movement resources, key movement events, and the role of the media and U.S. government.


BST 305U African History, Before 1800 

Surveys the history of the African continent from the period of European exploration to the eve of colonialism. Examines the impact of the European presence on African institutions and trade, and the relative importance of the environment, technology, and indigenous social systems on the transformation of African society prior to 1800. Same course as HST 312 and may be taken only once for credit.


BST 306U African History, 1800-Present 

Survey the history of the African continent from 1800 to the present with an emphasis on the colonial period, independence, and post-independence. Same course as HST 313 and may be taken only once for credit.

**Prerequisite: BST 211.

BST 316 Issues in African American Education (previously offered as 416/516)

The U.S. education systems and African Americans. A historical overview and contemporary analysis of legal issues related to education, including public and private education, community control of schools, citizen involvement, alternative education forms, school desegregation and re-segregation.


BST 319U Traditional Cultures of Africa 

Examines features of African cultures, including environment and people, oral traditions, time and seasons, naming and numbering systems, language and communication systems, religious, political and legal institutions, music, dance, and family. 


BST 325U Race and Ethnicity in Latin America 

African descent in Latin America using theoretical and empirical research on race and ethnicity in the region. Regional and national variations concerning racial and ethnic identity and the intersection of race/ethnicity, gender and social class and an exploration of how Blackness is contested in the media.


BST 326U Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico 

History, culture, politics, geography, gender relations, race, ethnicity, and spirituality of the people of the Spanish speaking Caribbean—Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Focus on Indigenous people of the Caribbean, the impact of European colonization on the region, political resistance, nation building and creative identity-making.


BST 335U The Multi-Racial Experience 

Explores what it means to identify oneself or be identified as multiracial/ethnic. Considers how social class, gender, race, and other factors shape the multiracial experience. In addition, explores the interracial relationship and the representation of multiracial in the media.


BST 342U Black Feminism/Womanism 

Historical evolution of black feminist theory from slave narratives to contemporary manifestations of black feminism including hip hop feminism. Feminist resistance in the context of race and gender. Analysis of the pluralism within black feminism including black lesbian feminism, womanist theology, and radical black subjectivity.


BST 345U Black Popular Music: Contextualizing the Black Experience

Explore and contextualize the cultural politics of Black popular music and its implications as a vehicle for interrogating race, class, gender, and sexuality in contemporary U.S. culture. Historical unfolding and developing trends used to demonstrate relevant and associated black experience(s). 

BST 351U, 352U African American Literature 

A study of African American literature from its oral and folk beginnings to the present.


BST 353U African Women in Film 

This course examines portrayals of African women in cinema using selected films from African and African American, traditional Hollywood films and films by African filmmakers. Approaches in comparative analyses of African films are used to examine depictions of African women in traditional and contemporary cultural settings through discussions and reviews.


BST 356U Cuban Film: Politics and Culture 

Topics in Cuban history, culture, race, gender, and politics, focusing on the impact of the Cuban revolution on Cuban society, presented through Cuban films are addressed. Films, particularly popular films made in Cuba, and media as primary methods of inquiry, and their global political and cultural implications are critically examined.


BST 357U Caribbean Spirituality & Resistance 

The historical and contemporary diversity of Afro Creole spiritual/religious practices in the Caribbean. Rituals and beliefs of Indigenous Taino and African origin, Afro Cuban religious systems, Dominican worldview and spirit practice, Rastafari, Obeah, Vodou, and Spiritism. Conceptions of spirituality in syncretic, creolized spirit systems in colonized, transnational, globalized Afro-Caribbean society.

BST 362U African Prehistory 

Methods, sources of evidence, and the results of the study of prehistoric cultures of Africa from the earliest traces until the first written records; it includes human origins (physical and cultural evolution), the earliest civilization, peopling of Africa, migrations, earliest settlements, origins of agriculture and metallurgy. This is the same course as ANTH 362 and may be taken only once for credit. 


BST 363U African Cinema & Culture 

African cultures are explored through reviews of African cinema using an annual Portland film festival occurring during the term, and/or in-class screenings. Nature and relevance of African cinema are examined from global perspectives and approaches to film analysis and interpretations; the impact and contributions to understanding African cultures are discussed.


BST 372U Postcolonial African Studies 

Study of the social, political, and economic dimensions of imperialism in twentieth century Africa from the perspective of post-colonial studies. This course is the same as INTL 372U and may be taken only once for credit.


BST 377U Vodoun, Rasta and Islam in the African Diaspora 

Historical and cultural background on how Voudoun, Islam, and Rastafarianism became major ingredients in political, religious, and social movements in the African Diaspora. Cultural, political and economic implications and impacts are discussed.

BST 384U African Immigrant Communities in Oregon 

Historical and recent African immigration to the United States is interrogated for form, nature and function in light of assimilation (i.e., melting pot) expectations. Survey of classical and contemporary migration literature and discovery of the Oregon African immigrant milieu in a global context and perspective are used in the search for answers.

**Expected preparation: BST 202, 211A, or any lower division BST course.


BST 396 Research Methodologies in Black Studies 

Introduces students to the process of conducting research using qualitative research methods in the humanities and social sciences. Exploration of research methods including, but not limited to, interviewing, content analysis, archival research, library research, Internet research, and participant-observation.


BST 399 Special Studies (Credit to be arranged) 


  • Black Sexualities
  • Racism & Social Work
  • Culture Representation & Difference
  • African Dance

BST 401 Research (Credit to be arranged) Consent of instructor. 


  • Cuban Cultural Hip Hop
  • Women’s Roles in African Politics
  • Slave Rebellion
  • Scientific Racism
  • Gentrification in N.E. Portland

BST 404 Cooperative Education/Internship (Credit to be arranged) 


BST 405 Reading and Conference (Credit to be arranged) Consent of instructor.


  • Ghana Traditional Government
  • Poverty in Africa
  • African Youth Sports
  • Africa in Hollywood
  • African Spirituality

BST 407/507 Seminar (Credit to be arranged) Consent of instructor 


  • Student Leadership
  • Black Leadership & Community Development
  • Caribbean Feminist Studies
  • Issues in African Prehistory

BST 408 Workshop (Credit to be arranged) Consent of instructor.


  • Institutions & Equity
  • Mandela Workshop
  • African American Health Issues
  • African/Caribbean Music

BST 409 Practicum (Credit to be arranged) Consent of instructor. 


  • African Religious System
  • Herbal Medicine in Ghana
  • Broadcasting in Ghana

BST 410 Selected Topics (Credit to be arranged) Consent of instructor. 


  • Blacks in Europe
  • Black Families in the U.S.
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  • Caribbean Women Writers
  • Race & Representation in Popular Culture
  • Civic Engagement

BST 411/511 African American History Seminar 

In-depth analysis of critical topics and issues in African American history. The content of the course is topical rather than chronological and the approach will emphasize specific periods, individuals, or relevant developments for a concentrated treatment in a seminar environment. 


BST 412/512 Oregon African American History 

Examination of the black experience in Oregon history. Topics include the slavery controversy in early Oregon development, contributions of blacks to the growth of the state, black migration during World War II, the Vanport flood, and various legislative actions related to black status in Oregon.

**Prerequisite: BST 202 or BST 204.


BST 413/513 Slavery 

An examination of the role of slavery in establishing and reinforcing the status and position of the black population in the U.S. and the Caribbean, including physical and psychological impacts, racial classifications, and colorism. Comparative analysis of the numerous forms of slave systems and the impact of slave rebellions.


BST 414/514 Racism 

Survey of the social-psychological, pseudo-scientific, and biological literature and their impact on individual and cultural forms of racism in America. Utilization of rationalizations and the processes and machinery of oppression as constructed by white European and American governments to control and exploit the resources of non-white peoples will be examined.


BST 419/519 African American Women in America 

American women from slavery to the contemporary period. African American women's agency will be examined in antislavery, suffrage, club, civil rights, nationalist, black feminist, and current social justice movements.

**Prerequisite: Either BST 202, BST 203, or BST 207. 


BST 420/520 Caribbean Literature 

A selection of poetry and fiction from the English and French speaking Caribbean (in translation where necessary).

**Prerequisites: One previous African American literature course and 12 additional literature credits.

BST 421/521 African American Writers 

Examination of significant African American literary figures. A particular author or literary period of writing is identified, read, analyzed, and discussed. Major works and history of the period are included with special consideration given to the relationships between the topic of focus and the larger spheres of writing.


BST 425/525 Black Cinema: The 1970s 

Examination of the treatment of Black themes, issues and characterization during the decade of the 1970s in the cinema industry. Particular attention on the genre of the Blaxploitation film as an industry response to the rapidly shifting social and racial dynamics of American culture as the Civil Rights era concluded. 


BST 426/526 Contemporary African American Cinema 

Examination of the treatment of Black themes, issues, and characterization in the contemporary cinema industry. Particular attention will be focused on the development of new Black actors, directors, and producers. The impact of these new factors in the industry will be analyzed for the influence they have on the traditions of cinema history relative to the Black experience.

**Prerequisites: BST 203, BST 204, or BST 302.


BST 430/530 Black Political Thought 

Theories of Black nationalism, including the political thought of Martin Delany, Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Albert Memmi, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, and others. 


BST 440/540 Caribbean Studies 

Interdisciplinary examination of historic or cultural issues in the Caribbean experience. Emphasis will be on issues and dilemmas related to the creation of a multicultural society.

**Prerequisite: BST 211 or BST 206.


BST 450/550 Topics in African/Caribbean History and Culture 

In-depth exploration of selected topics in African and/or Caribbean cultural history. Special attention will be given to thematic issues of broad application to the understanding of cultural interaction, continuity, and change. 


BST 466/566 History of the Black Panther Party

Examination of historical conditions and context that gave birth to the Black Panther Party. Analysis of the political platform, work and ideology of the Party and governmental and societal responses. Issues of race, class, gender and sexuality, the intersections of identity, and the Party’s legacy nationally and globally.


BST 467/567 African Development Issues 

An examination of the causes of poverty and underdevelopment of the African continent. A comparative analysis of pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial circumstances will be conducted.

**Prerequisite: BST 211.


BST 484U African American Community Development

Study of community development and applicability to African American communities. Topics include community development, community organization, ghettos as colonies, citizen participation, change agents, planning, and social change implications.