Courses & Syllabi

For current term syllabi, please see the current term page using the menu links at the top left. 

Please see PSU's Course Planning Guide or

the Black Studies 2018-2021 Course Rotation Plan

*Please note that the course plan is subject to change.  The current version is dated 1/9/2019*

Course List

BST 199 Special Studies

Credits: 1-4; to be arranged by department. Consent of instructor needed.  Examples:

  • African Foodways
  • Ethnicity in Africa
  • Black Identity & Islam

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. This is the first course in a sequence of two: BST 203 and BST 204.


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.   This is the second course in a sequence of two: BST 203 and BST 204.

  • Prerequisite: BST 203

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 a 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.

  • Cross-listed with UNST 233L (Global Perspectives) and INTL 211A

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 299 Special Studies

Credits: 1-4; to be arranged by department. Consent of instructor needed.  Examples:

  • Understanding Caribbean History
  • History of Black Studies
  • Traditional Politics in Africa

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.

  • Cluster: American Identities

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.  WRITING INTENSIVE.

  • Prerequisite:  BST 202 or BST 203

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.  This is the same course as HST 312U and may be taken only once for credit.

  • Prerequisite:  BST 202 or BST 211
  • Cross-listed with HST 312U
  • Clusters:  Global Perspectives, Interpreting the Past

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.  This is the same course as HST 313U and may be taken only once for credit.

  • Prerequisite:  BST 211
  • Cross-listed with HST 313U
  • Cluster: Global Perspectives

BST 316 Issues in African American Education

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 318U Black Families in the U.S.

Overview of contemporary theories and research of the Black family in the U.S. Examination of the historical and socio-economic contexts surrounding families and the impacts on family structure and experiences. Topics for discussion include health issues, family formations, racism, community organizing, welfare, and economic security.

  • Cluster: Families & Society

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. This is the same course as ANTH 319U and may be taken only once for credit.

  • Expected preparation: BST 211 or Sophomore Inquiry
  • Cross-listed with ANTH 319U
  • Clusters: Global Perspectives, Interpreting the Past

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.

  • Clusters: American Identities, Global Perspectives

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. 

  • Clusters: American Identities, Global Perspectives

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. 

  • Cluster: American Identities

BST 339U Afro-Futurisms/Black Science Fiction

This class begins with the historical roots of Afro-Futurisms/Black Science Fiction. Using selected reading the class will compare and contrast the science fiction and fantasy written by Africans & African Diaspora authors. Will also explore in movies and television the contributions of Black people in science fiction.

  • Cluster: Popular Culture

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.  

  • Cluster: American Identities

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). 

  • Cluster: Examining Popular Culture

BST 351U African American Literature

A study of African American literature from its oral and folk beginnings to the present.  This is the first course in a sequence of two: BST 351U and BST 352U. This is the same course as ENG 351U and may be taken only once for credit.

  • Cross-listed with ENG 351U  
  • Clusters: American Identities, Global Perspectives

BST 352U African American Literature

A study of African American literature from its oral and folk beginnings to the present.  This is the second course in a sequence of two: BST 351U and BST 352U. This is the same course as ENG 352U and may be taken only once for credit.

  • Prerequisite:  BST 221
  • Cross-listed with ENG 352U  
  • Clusters: American Identities, Global Perspectives

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.  

  • Clusters: American Identities, Global Perspectives, Examining Popular Culture

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.  

  • Clusters: Global Perspectives, Examining Popular Culture

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.  

  • Cluster: Global Perspectives

BST 359U:  African Diaspora in Europe

This course focuses on the African Diaspora in Europe.  All of the readings are authored by people of African descent.  The pedagogy of the course will require students to think critically about the significance of race/racism and gender/sexism within the lives of people of African descent in Europe.  The course also uses a variety of content such as academic journals, novels, music, and videos to approach the subject to address the variety of learning styles of students.

  • Cluster: Global Perspectives

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 362U and may be taken only once for credit. 

  • Prerequisites:  BST 211 and ANTH 102
  • Cross-listed with ANTH 362U  
  • Clusters: Global Perspectives, Interpreting the Past

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.  

  • Clusters: Global Perspectives, Examining Popular Culture

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.

  • Cross-listed with INTL 372U  
  • Cluster: Global Perspectives

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

Historical and cultural background on how Vodoun, 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.  

  • Cluster: Global Perspectives

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, BST 211, or any lower division BST course  
  • Cluster: Global Perspectives

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.

  • Prerequisites:  BST 202, BST 203, BST 204 or BST 206, and upper-division standing

BST 399/399U Special Studies

Experimental course offerings.  Credits: 1-5; to be arranged with the department.  Consent of instructor needed.  Examples:

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

BST 401 Research

Course related to the discovery or creation of new knowledge, art, or scholarly work and the revision of accepted theories or practical application in a particular subject area.  Largely independent, guided by a faculty member and designed to produce a tangible product.  At the graduate level, typically the culminating activity for a master’s degree in lieu of a thesis.  Credits: 0-6; to be arranged with the department.  Consent of instructor needed.  Examples:

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

BST 402/502 Independent Study

A course of research or instruction that is set solely by the student and the instructor.  Credits: 1-12; to be arranged with the department.  Consent of instructor needed.  Examples:

  • Afro-Pessimism (Dr. Derrais Carter)
  • African Women and Development (Prof. E. Kofi Agorsah)
  • Maya Angelou & Civil Rights (Dr. Joseph Smith-Buani)

BST 404 Cooperative Education/Internship

Combined classroom-based learning with practical work experiences.  Designed for the practical application of academic knowledge and skills that provides exposure to a discipline or profession within a supervised work setting.  Includes student teaching, internships, community service learning, capstones, cooperative education, practicum, and field experience.  Credits: 1-12; to be arranged. Consent of instructor needed.  Examples:

  • Food Equity Internship (Dr. Pedro Ferbel-Azcarate)
  • African Festivals Internship (Prof. E. Kofi Agorsah)
  • Media Education Internship (Dr. Darrell Millner)

BST 405/505 Reading and Conference

Courses focus on a designated subject matter to be read by the student and discussed in conference with an instructor.  Credits: 0-6; to be arranged with the department. Consent of instructor needed.  Examples:

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

BST 406/506 Overseas Experience

Community-based learning in an international context through immersion in departmental programs in Africa and/or the Caribbean. Travel programs provide students with rich, multicultural environments in which to learn and serve international communities.  Credits: 1-8; to be determined by the department.

  • Prerequisite: Application for admission to the overseas programs is required.  

BST 407/507 Seminar

Exploration of a particular line of study, presenting and exchanging scholarly ideas or research findings.  Credits: 1-6; to be arranged by the department. Consent of instructor needed.  Examples:

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

BST 408 Workshop

An experiential learning series of educational and work-related sessions where small groups of people meet to concentrate on a defined area of concern with a focus on obtaining a goal or project.  Credits: 1-6; to be arranged by the department. Consent of instructor needed.  Examples:

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

BST 409/409 Practicum

Courses that are part of a program in a specialized field of study designed to give students supervised practical application of previously or concurrently studied theory.  Credits: 1-12; to be arranged by the department. Consent of instructor needed.  Examples:

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

BST 410/510 Selected Topics

Experimental offerings in various learning formats.  Credits: 1-6; to be arranged by the department. Consent of instructor needed.  Examples:

  • Food Justice [CBL (Community Based Learning) Course]
  • 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. 

  • Prerequisites: BST 202 or BST 204, and upper-division status

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.

  • Prerequisites: BST 202, BST 203 or BST 204; and junior or senior status.

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.

  • Prerequisites: BST 202, BST 203, BST 206 and BST 214

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 415/515 Race, Punishment and Justice

Examination of historical and contemporary incarceration in the U.S. including slavery, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow eras through the lens of race, class, gender, sexual identity, nationality, power, and privilege. Responses to demands for justice and exploration of the use of racial ideologies in the development of a racialized prison/carceral system.

Prerequisite: BST 202 or permission of chair.


BST 419 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: 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.

  • Prerequisite: BST 221

BST 422/522 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  
  • Cross-listed with ENG 422

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. 

  • Prerequisite: Upper-division standing 

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.

  • Prerequisite: Upper-division standing 

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. 

  • Prerequisite: Upper-division standing

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.

  • Cross-listed with HST 412/512
  • Prerequisite: BST 203, BST 204, BST 206 or BST 211; and upper-division standing.
  •  

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.

  • Prerequisite: Two courses in BST or permission from the department chair.  

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 484/584 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.

  • Prerequisites: BST 202 or BST 204, and upper-division standing
  • CBL (Community Based Learning) Course

BST 489/589 Afro-Latin@ Narratives

This course explores through poetry, songs, music, stories, (auto)-biographical accounts and novels the creativity and meaning produced by people of African descent living in or from Latin America. Through examining the narrative expressions of Afro-Latin Americans we can consider the relationship that social-historical processes have on narrative production.

  • Prerequisite: Upper-division standing