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Course Descriptions

During the 2016-2017 academic year, the Department of Black Studies will be adding several new and revised courses and instituting 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.

Courses with an (*) are not offered every year.  All courses are four credits unless otherwise noted. 


BST 199 Special Studies (Credit to be arranged) 

BST 202 Introduction to Black Studies: Historical and theoretical underpinnings of black studies as an inter- and multidisciplinary field in the arts and humanities. Introduced through exemplary scholarship in African, African-American and Caribbean studies. What makes a specialization unique within the academy and its applicability to other disciplines.


BST 203, 204 Introduction to African-American History: An introductory sequence designed to provide students with a factual framework and conceptual foundation to analyze the history of the black Race in the New World. Primarily a lecture-discussion format augmented with speakers and films, the course will trace the pertinent contacts between the African and European worlds from ancient times to the present. Special consideration will be given to developing the student’s skill to re-examine traditional historical concepts and information from the perspective of the black experience.

BST 206 Introduction to Caribbean Studies: Interdisciplinary examination of the history and cultural experience of the Circum-Caribbean regions. 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 Introduction to Race, Class, and Gender: Provides theoretical foundation to examine the origins of the categories “race,” “gender,” and “class” as used in African diasporic societies. Analyzes social, political, economic, and cultural phenomenon as they are influenced by constructed categories. Focus on how the intersections of identities function at the individual, societal, and structural levels.

BST 211 Introduction to 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 Introduction to Contemporary Race and Ethnic Relations: Introductory examination of 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. Particular emphasis on topical race issues in the literature which pertain to categorization, gender, culture, and political economy.

*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: The role of African-Americans in the American economic system. Employment, wage differentials, welfare payments, and the ghetto economy are examined.

BST 302 African-American Experience in the 20th Century: An upper-division course designed to examine the history of the black experience in the 20th century. Primarily a discussion-reading format augmented with speakers and films. Special consideration will be given to developing in the student the skill to re-examine traditional concepts and approaches to the study of the black experience within the broader context of mainstream developments in American life and history.  

BST 305 African History, Before 1800: An upper-division course designed to survey the history of the African continent from the period of European exploration to the eve of colonialism. Using a lecture/discussion format, the course will examine 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. This course is the same as HST 312; course may be taken only once for credit. Prerequisite: BST 211.

BST 306 African History, 1800-Present: An upper-division course designed to survey the history of the African continent from 1800 to the present, with emphasis on the colonial period, independence and post-independence. This course is the same as HST 331; course may be taken only once for credit. Prerequisite: BST 211.

BST 319 Traditional Cultures of Africa: Survey of African cultures. Some of the main features examined include: 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. Prerequisite: BST 205 or Sophomore Inquiry.

BST 325 Race and Ethnicity in Latin America: This course focuses on the experiences of people of African descent in Latin America through the theoretical and empirical research on race and ethnicity in the region. Topics include regional and national variations concerning racial and ethnic identity and the intersection of race/ethnicity, gender and social class. This course also explores how Blackness is contested in the media including literature and popular culture.

BST 326 Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico: This class surveys the archaeology, history, culture, geography, gender relations, race, ethnicity, and religion of the people of the Spanish speaking Caribbean-Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. We focus on the Indigenous people of the Caribbean, the impact of European colonization on the region-- systems of slavery, racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression-- and stories of human struggle, political resistance, nation building and creative identity-making. We highlight the transculturative "creolization" emblematic of the region, and take on an "archaeology of the present" to investigate contemporary social processes including immigration, globalization, regional politics and, ultimately, the expression of the diversity of the human experience. We approach this course from an anthropological perspective within a generalized framework of Black Studies. We situate multidisciplinary interpretations of history and culture within their socio-historic context, and assess these interpretations, especially from less privileged and less represented perspectives. In the case of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, this means reading between the lines of European and Euro-American history, and finding the voices of the people of Indigenous, African, and Afro-Mestizo ancestry and culture. This inquiry demands critical thinking and the clear expression of ideas; students will be expected to demonstrate engagement in these modes of inquiry.

BST 335 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 interracial relationship and the representation of multiracial in the media.

BST 342 Black Feminism/Womanism: Examines the historical evolution of black feminist theory. Starts with emancipation or slave narratives and ends with contemporary manifestations of black feminism, such as hip hop feminism; will redefine 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. Examines the people and organizations that shaped black feminist thought and the black liberation movements.

*BST 351, 352 African-American Literature: A study of African-American literature from its oral and folk beginnings to the present. Prerequisite: BST 221 or ENG 256.

BST 353 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 356 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 357 Caribbean Spirituality & Resistance: This class will investigate the historical background and contemporary diversity of spiritual and religious practices in the Caribbean, including Pre Columbian spirituality, Afro Cuban religions, Dominican worldview and spirit practice, Rastafarianism, Obeah, Vodou and Spiritism. Through the study of synchretic, creolized spirit systems, we will assess how spirituality is conceived as a form of cultural and political resistance in colonized, transnational and globalized society, and we will apply insights toward an analysis of our own daily cultural practices and belief systems, living in the USA. We approach this course from an anthropological perspective within a generalized framework of Black Studies. We situate multidisciplinary interpretations of history and culture within their socio-historic context, and assess these interpretations, especially from less privileged and less represented perspectives. In the case of the Caribbean region, this means reading between the lines of European and Euro-American history, and finding the voices of the people of Indigenous, African, and Afro-Mestizo ancestry and culture. This inquiry demands critical thinking and the clear expression of ideas; students will be expected to demonstrate engagement in these modes of inquiry through seminar discussion, group presentations, and individual assignments. 

BST 362 African Prehistory: Methods, sources of evidence, and the results of the study of prehistoric cultures of African from the earliest traces until the first written records; it includes human origins (physical and cultural evolution), the earliest civilization, peopling of African, migrations, earliest settlements, origins of agriculture and metallurgy. Prerequisites: BST 211, ANTH 102.

BST 363 African Cinema & Culture: African cultures are explored via experience of African cinema at the 2010 Cascade Festival of African Films (CFAF) and in-class film screenings.  The CFAF is in its 20th season at Portland Community College's Cascade Campus, and will present, from February 5 to March 6, 2010, "award-winning films from every region of the African continent," in celebration of Black History Month and Women's History Month.  Key among course requirements is attendance at five Friday evening screenings of feature length films.  Leading up to the CFAF, the nature of African cinema and African culture are examined along with approaches to film review and interpretation.  The course will conclude with an assessment of the CFAF and its impacts on or contributions to our understanding of Africa and Africans generally and, of African cinema and African cultures specifically.

BST 372 Sociology of Africa: Post-colonial Studies of Africa: This course will explore the relationship and ongoing dynamics between colonizers and the colonized in 20th century Africa, in the context of post-colonial studies. Nationalist, socialist, anticolonialist, and Apartheid movements in Africa are each a direct consequence of global imperialism and its legacy. This course, will help to understand the social, political and economic implications and dimensions of imperialism in the 20th century.

BST 377 Vodoun, Rasta and Islam in the Africa Diaspora: Historical and cultural background to how Vodoun, Islam and Rastafarianism became major historical ingredients in colonial African Diaspora, providing major inter-continental contexts for defining and characterizing the process of freedom-fighting and formation of contemporary Caribbean identities in the Americas. Cultural, political and economic implications and impacts are discussed.

BST 384 African Immigrant Communities in Oregon: Historical and recent African immigration to the United States are 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 search for answers. Expected preparation: BST 202, 211A, or any lower division BST course.

BST 396 Research Methodologies in Black Studies: Introduces students to 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. Special attention will be paid to how to conduct research in marginalized communities.

BST 399 Special Studies (Credit to be arranged)

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

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

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

BST 406/506 Overseas Experience: Provides community-based learning in an international context though immersion in departmental programs in Africa and/or the Caribbean. The fee –based programs provide students with rich, multicultural environments in which to learn and serve international communities. Students will be asked to apply for admission to the overseas programs focused in the Caribbean and Africa.

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

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

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

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

*BST 411/511 African-American History Seminar: This course will provide an in-depth analysis of critical topics and issues in African-American history. The focus will be 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: An examination of the black experience in Oregon history. The course will include coverage of the slavery controversy in early Oregon development as well as the individual contributions of blacks to the growth of the state. Additional topics will include the black migration of World War II, Vanport flood, and various legislative actions related to black status in Oregon.

*BST 413/513 Slavery: An examination of the institution which has played a central role in establishing the status and position of the modern black population in American society, both in physical and psychological terms. The course will attempt to put information and understanding of slavery in the proper and accurate context of an institution which has been a part of the human experience since the ancient world and which has a legacy and implications far beyond the racially associated perceptions usually attached to it. The approach will be though the comparative analysis of the numerous forms the institution of slavery has assumed in human history. Prerequisites: BST 206, 211, HST 101, 102.

*BST 414/514 Racism: A survey of the pertinent social-psychological literature on individual and cultural forms of racism in America. The rationalizations, processes and machinery of oppression as constructed by white European and American governments, which control and exploit the resources of non-white people, will be examined. Special attention will be paid to the theoretical social-psychological explanations of black/white differences. Prerequisites: BST 207, 211, or 214, UNST 212.

*BST 416/516 African-American Urban Education Problems: Course examines the education systems in major cities being inherited by African-Americans. The relationship between public and private education will be studied for impacts on African-Americans. Educational system response to African-American enrollment will be discussed. Moreover, pertinent literature, e.g., the Coleman Report, Jensen’s thesis, and other will be introduced with respect to their overall effect on the curricula available to the African-American child. Topics of concern include community control, citizen involvement, alternative education forms, race relations, faculty-staff responses, modern trends, etc. Prerequisite: junior, senior, or graduate-level standing.

*BST 417/517 The African-American Family: A review of the present-day life-style of African-American families in the United States. Special attention is placed on cultural variations by class as they relate to the African-American family. A careful study of the appropriate social science literature commonly used to describe the African-American family will provide more accurate insights. Prerequisite: BST 207.

*BST 419 African-American Women in America: A course designed to investigate the evolution of the African-American female experience from pre-slavery to the present period. African-American pioneers will be viewed as participants in antislavery, suffrage, and civil rights movements. Modern complexities of psychological conflicts and insecurities, economic survival, liberation, club movement, and sexual jealousies are examined. Information relative to the development of African-American women as part of the total human experience will be emphasized. Prerequisite: 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: A concentrated examination of significant African-American literary figures and their impact on American arts and letters. The course will identify each term a particular author or literary period of writing and then read, analyzes, and discuss the major works and the background information of that period. Special consideration will be given to the relationships between the topics of focus and the larger spheres of American and world writing. Prerequisites: BST 221; ENG 107, 108, 253, 254.

*BST 422/522, 423/523 African Fiction: Readings in African fiction in regional, cultural, generational, and gender contexts. Prerequisites: One previous African-American literature course and 12 additional literature credits.

BST 424/524 African-American/African Culture in Cinema: An examination of the treatment accorded black culture and individuals in the evolution of the cinema industry. Coverage will include review and analysis of classic film productions from the infancy of Hollywood through to the black urban films of the modern period. Emphasis will focus on the relationships between racial stereotypes and the creation of majority culture perceptions of the black experience. Prerequisite: upper-division standing.

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 will be focused on the genre of the black exploitation film as an industry response to the rapidly shifting social and racial dynamics of American culture as the Civil Rights era wound down. Prerequisites: BST 203, 204, or 302.

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, 204, or 302.

BST 427/527 African-American Films and Film Markers: Examination of films made by African-Americans from the early years of cinema history down thought contemporary films. Examination will include a focus on the internal structure and content of the films as well as consideration of the larger social, cultural, economic, and political context of the society in which the films were produced.

*BST 430/530 African-American Political Thought: An examination in-depth of the political theory of African-American leaders in American between 1850-1920 and the impact of that thought on American political thought. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

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 206.

BST 450 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 464 Minority Business Perspectives: This course is designed to prepare the student for a role as a proprietor of an enterprise, as an administrator in a related public or social agency or to conduct research in an economic area which has very special problems and constraints for the minority entrepreneur or professional. The traditional elements of small business operation will be examined within the framework of reference, progressing from basic organization and feasibility studies through marketing, governmental contracting, contract compliance, and special governmental assistance to minorities.

*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. Prerequisites: BST 211.

*BST 470/570 African Art: Examination of selected African art forms, styles, and traditions. Emphasis on the context of the art and artist, and their relationship to politics and society in African history. Prerequisites: ARH 204, 205, 206, BST 211. This course is the same as ARH 470/570; course may be taken only once for credit.

BST 471 Understanding the International Experience: Examination of communication-based dimensions of an international or intercultural experience, including teaching English to speakers of other languages. Development of strategies and activities required to meet the challenges of teaching, working, or doing research in an international/intercultural setting. Prerequisite: upper-division or postbac academic standing. All linguistics students must register for Ling 471/571 which includes a zero-credit lab, however, this course is also offered as Intl 471. Course may only be taken once for credit.

*BST 484/584 African-American community Development: Designed to investigate processes of community development for their application to urban African-American communities, community organization, ghettos as colonies, citizen participation, roles of change agents, social planning, social change implications. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.