For the college’s course catalog, please visit the Courses section. For courses currently offered, please visit the Schedule of Classes.

Black Women's Lives: Autobiography As Protest (BLST-102)
The purpose of this course is to explore personal narrative and autobiography as texts of resistance in Black women's lives. The course will use the multiple genres of autobiography such as poetry, essay, short narrative, memoir and major autobiographical works to illustrate Black women's resistance to race, class, and gender subordination or other forms of marginalization and oppression in their lives and in society. These autobiographical texts will be paired with select readings from women's studies and black studies to provide students with the analytical tools to identify how these texts function as forms of personal, social, political or institutional protest. Cross-listed with WMST 102.
Gospel Piano (BLST-115)
African/Diasporan Dance I (BLST-122)
African/Diasporan Dance I focuses on African-centered forms of dance in one of many possible genres across the African Diaspora (e.g., traditional African forms, dances of the African Diaspora, African American vernacular, Hip-Hop, Contemporary African, etc.). Taught from a cultural perspective, this course emphasizes fundamentals such as fluidity, use of the head, spine and pelvis, grounded and weighted qualities, isolations and complex embodied rhythms. Concert attendance, short written critical responses and weekly written journals are examples of outside work that is required. Cross-listed with Dance. No previous dance experience is expected.
Gospel Choir (Ensemble) (BLST-133)
Gospel Ensemble (BLST-139)
Special Topics in Black Studies (BLST-146)
African Art and Visual Culture (BLST-154)
This course examines the diverse arts and visual culture of Africa. The scope of this course ranges from pre-colonial to contemporary times, considering a selection of objects, concepts and practices from across the continent. The course is designed to provide you with an introduction to these art forms and the various socio-cultural, historical, critical and aesthetic platforms from which they operate. In addition, we will explore some of the key theoretical issues in the portrayal and interpretation of art and visual culture from this world arena.
Gender, Imperialisms, and Colonialisms in African History (BLST-165)
Beginning with "classic" theoretical readings on Gender and Imperialism, this seminar will provide a forum to "explore" the gendered nature of imperialism and colonialism with a particular focus on key imperial nations of the 19th century, namely Britain, France, Belgium, and Portugal. Often projected as a male endeavor, the success (and failure) of European imperial projects in Africa had as much to do with women as it had to do with men. The readings and our own research into the subject matter will help us "discover" this historical reality. We will read a wide variety of primary and secondary source material, including travelogues, novels, films, photographs, newspapers, and histories of imperialism and colonialism. Each student will pick a research topic of her or his choice; this will afford each one a wonderful opportunity to hone research, writing, and presentation skills.
Pre-Colonial Africa (BLST-171)
This survey course will introduce students to the history of Africa from the earliest times to 1880 - also known as pre-colonial African history. Though the focus is on Africa south of the Sahara, North Africa will be featured from time to time. Topics include the earliest human settlements in Africa, empires and kingdoms in East, West, and Southern Africa, Islam and Christianity in Africa, slavery, and the partitioning of the continent by powers in the mid 1800s.
The History of Africa Since 1880 (BLST-172)
This course examines myths about Africa, the history of colonialism on the continent in the 19th and 20th centuries, the rise of primary resistances to colonialism in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and how this fed the secondary and tertiary resistance movements from the 1930s through to the 1990s when the apartheid regime collapsed in South Africa. Through close readings of the historiography, students will grapple with the history of colonialism and the postcolonial era in Sub Saharan Africa.
Elementary Topics in Black Studies (BLST-199)
A general category used only in the evaluation of transfer credit.
Race and Ethnicity (BLST-212)
Contrary to the expectations of many modern social theorists, race and ethnicity continue to be important elements in the lives of contemporary people, serving as frameworks through which individual identities, community actions, and cultural meanings are interpreted. This course will introduce students to the sociocultural analysis of racial and ethnic identities. How did ethnic and racial identities and communities develop over time? Why does race, though now understood to be a social rather than a biological category, continue to be (mis)understood as a biological category? How do aspects of political, class, gender, and sexual identities influence racial and ethnic identities? We will use a global perspective to understand the conception of race and ethnicity. We will explore these topics among others including cultural and historical variability of ethnic and racial categories, the dialectical formation of identity, and the persistence of certain forms of racial and ethnic prejudice. Students will be expected to examine critically their own common assumptions and presuppositions about race and ethnicity, and to begin developing the theoretical tools for interpreting life in an ethnically diverse world.
World Music (BLST-219)
This course includes in-depth studies of several representative genres of music from around the world, including their social or political contexts. Traditional and popular musics of the world can play important roles in religion, identity formation (gender, race, sexuality), tradition, education, agriculture, history preservation, political resistance and domination, protest, symbolism and entertainment. Students will learn to identify, classify, and describe musical examples from several cultures by discerning musical styles, instrumental or vocal timbre, form and texture.
Representing Africa on Film (BLST-222)
An examination of ethnographic/documentary film dealing with Africa as well as contemporary cinema produced by African filmmakers. This class accords particular attention to the perspectives of African filmmakers as agents in the representation of cultures, social realities and histories in Africa.
African/Diasporan Dance II (BLST-223)
African/Diasporan Dance II focuses on African-centered forms of dance in one of many possible genres across the African Diaspora (e.g., traditional African forms, dances of the African Diaspora, Hip-Hop, African American vernacular, contemporary African, etc.). Taught from a cultural perspective, this course deepens exposure to fundamentals and aesthetics with complex phrasing and multi-layered movement. Emphasis is placed on fluidity, use of the head, spine, and pelvis, grounded and weighted qualities, isolations and complex embodied rhythms. Limited work outside the classroom is required. Examples include concert attendance, focused relative research inquiries, weekly journal writing, and video essays. Cross-listed with Dance 222. Level II is only open to students with previous dance experience in any genre.
African American History (BLST-225)
This course will examine the history of African-Americans in the United States from 1619 to the present with an emphasis on the processes by which African-Americans adjusted to and resisted their conditions. Topics will include African heritage, slavery, Civil War and Reconstruction, Jim Crow, wartime experiences, the shift to urban life, the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, the rise of Hip Hop, and contemporary issues. (Fall Semester)
Rebellion, Resistance and Black Religion (BLST-228)
This course examines the cultural continuities between African traditional religions and Black religion in the United States. It also explores the connection between politics and religion among Black Americans and the role religion plays in the African-American quest for liberation. The course examines theological and ethical issues, such as the color of God and the moral justifiability of violent revolution. Students will be given an opportunity to study contemporary religious movements, such as Rastafarianism and the Nation of Islam, along with more traditional African sectarian practices such as voodoo and Santeria.
Mediating Gender and Sexuality (BLST-229)
In this class we will examine and evaluate the cultural construction and representation of gender and sexuality in contemporary American mass media, and trace their development throughout the 20th century. We will focus on a variety of mass-produced commercial media texts, surveying television, magazines, advertising, and popular music. Although gender is the primary identity construction examined in this course, we will also pay close attention to other aspects of identity that define American women, such as ethnicity, class, and sexuality. We will investigate representational issues in relation to their political repercussions, and draw from a broad range of academic literature, including feminist television criticism, film theory, cultural studies, communication theory, and popular music criticism.
History of Gospel Music (BLST-234)
This course will explore the historical development of African-American gospel music in the 20th Century. The course will begin an examination of the pre-gospel era (pre-1900s-ca. 1920), move on to gospel music's beginnings (ca. 1920s), and continue unto the present. The course will explore the musical, sociological, political, and religious influences that contributed to the development of the various gospel music eras and styles. Through class lectures, demonstrations, music listening, reading and writing assignments, students will learn about the significant musical and non-musical contributions of African American gospel artists and the historical development of African American gospel music. Students will also strive to gain an understanding of the African American musical aesthetic and to determine how it is retained and expressed with African American gospel music and other musical genres. The class is open to students, staff, and faculty of all levels.
Introduction to Black Studies (BLST-235)
An introductory study of the Black experience in America, this course will survey the field by examining in series, the various social institutions that comprise Black American life. Students will be introduced to fundamental contemporary issues in the study of Black religion, politics, economics and the family. Additionally, this course will serve as an introduction to Afrocentricity, "the emerging paradigm in Black Studies," and to the new scholarship on Blacks in America.
Global Health and Local Wellbeing (BLST-237)
The course examines the sociocultural bases of both Western and non-Western medical and psychiatric systems. It focuses especially on different cultural assumptions about the nature and causes of illness and the institutional arrangements for the care of patients. The course will consider a variety of social scientific theoretical perspectives on the relationship between illness, medicine, and society. It will assess the degree to which non-Western medical systems may be compatible with and/or of benefit to Western medicine and psychiatry. This course has no prerequisite.
Racialized Perspectives of Media (BLST-239)
This course critically examines the forms that racial and ethnic representations have taken in American media. The course will attempt to chart changes in public perception of racial and ethnic difference in the context of cultural and social transformations, as well as adjustments in the U.S. media industry. We will first establish a foundational knowledge of media criticism and explore theories and perspectives on how ethnicity is experienced in American culture. We will then focus on the topic of the representation of ethnicity in American media, surveying it historically, in relation to specific ethnic groups, at particular moments, and in a variety of genres.
Special Intermediate Topics in Black Studies (BLST-246)
This course provides a venue in which to explore chosen topics in Black Studies at the intermediate level. Topics vary according to the interests of students and faculty. In some cases, the course may be repeated for credit. This course may be cross-listed based on the topic and disciplines that inform it.
Ethnic Literature (BLST-255)
A study of the literature of various ethnic, racial and regional groups of the United States. This course explores cultural heritages, historical struggles, artistic achievements and contemporary relations of groups in American society.
Oral Tradition and Folk Imagination (BLST-259)
An inquiry into the methodology of folklore study and an examination of the folk idiom in the American experience.
Black Women and Organizational Leadership (BLST-265)
This class explores Black women's leadership orientations in organizations. Afrocentric and womanist frameworks are used to inquire about Black women's leadership in the context of their lives. In this course we explore and theorize Black women's use of communal and generative leadership orientations as well as their application of a multiple and oppositional consciousness. Organizational dilemmas stemming from their race, class, and gender, as well as the unique challenges Black women leaders face in creating a supportive life structure are examined. Students will critique the omission of Black women's leadership styles in the mainstream theories about leadership, as well as explore the implications of Black women's leadership for expanding mainstream theory. Cross-listed with WMST 265.
African-American Women's Literature (BLST-325)
Historical and contemporary African-American women's literature grounds an inquiry into black women's literary and intellectual traditions within the matrix of race, gender, class, and sexual relations in the United States.
Southern African History (BLST-326)
This course grapples with a basic but fundamental question that has been at the heart of much scholarship on Africa: how is southern Africa's history distinct from the history of the rest of the African continent? To address this issue, this course takes a sweeping approach, covering major developments in southern Africa from the mid-17th century through the era of formal colonization and subsequent independence. We will be particularly interested in exploring the foundations and growth of a racial order in southern Africa, and more broadly examining the role that race has played in this region through the colonial and postcolonial eras. Major themes will include cultural contacts between Africans and non-Africans; the slave trade and its consequences; Shaka and myths surrounding the Zulu Empire; economic transformations in the colonial era; and the struggle for independence in different southern African countries.
African/Diasporan Dance III (BLST-327)
African/Diasporan Dance III focuses on African-centered forms of dance in one of many possible genres across the African Diaspora (e.g., traditional African forms, dances of the African Diaspora, African American vernacular, Hip-Hop, contemporary African, etc.). Taught from a cultural perspective, it is designed for students with significant experiences in African/Diasporan dance technique. This course approaches technique holistically and provides students with the rigorous practice required for performance. Emphasis is placed on fluidity, use of the head, spine, and pelvis, grounded and weighted qualities, isolations, and understanding or complex embodied rhythms. Because this course meets approximately 6 hours per week, little outside work is required. Cross-listed with Dance 322. Permission of instructor required.
The Civil Rights Movement (BLST-333)
This seminar will examine the struggle for African-American equality from the 1930s to 1970. The course will begin with the origins of the Civil Rights Movement during the New Deal and World War II. We will then explore the key campaigns, figures, organizations, and guiding themes of the Movement. Special attention will be paid to the processes by which grassroots activism forced responses from the federal, state, and local governments.
Dancing in the Street: African-American Urban History (BLST-334)
This course explores the history of the African-American urban experience. In the mid-18th century, the African-American community began to transition from a rural to an urban population. By the mid-20th century, African-Americans had become an overwhelmingly urban group. The course examines the process of the rural-to-urban transformation of African-Americans and the ways in which they have confronted, resisted, and adjusted to urban conditions of housing, employment, education, culture, and public space.
Composition Theory and Pedagogy (BLST-335)
An introduction to theory and practice in composition and an opportunity to apply theories in Denison's Writing Center or nearby classrooms. Students may concentrate on applying theory to any context, tailoring the practicum to their areas of interest.
The History of Black Power: From Marcus Garvey to Chuck D (BLST-337)
This course explores the history of the ideology of Black Power and its various dimensions and incarnations from its origins in the early 20th century to its significance in the present. Topics to be addressed may include, but are not limited to: definitions of Black Power, applications of this ideology to politics and economics, artistic aesthetics, gender dynamics, key figures and organizations, current manifestations, meanings for the African-American community, and reactions from the larger American society.
Culture, Identity and Politics in Caribbean Society (BLST-339)
This course focuses on the social, cultural and political life of the Caribbean area, especially the English- and French-speaking areas. A fragmented group of nations decidedly on the periphery of the global economy, the Caribbean was once one of the richest areas of the world. Its riches then depended on the labor of enslaved Africans; the fruits of the plantation economy were enjoyed mainly by European planters. What is the legacy of such a history? We review the variety of Caribbean policies, from the strong democratic traditions of Jamaica to the autocratic rulers of Haiti, and explore how the Caribbean's unique combination of cultural influences affect the political processes, ways of life, class divisions and ethnic stratification evident in the Caribbean today. Prerequisite: SA 100 or consent.
Social Movements (BLST-340)
In this course we explore social movements as a primary means of social change. We attempt to understand the conditions which precede, accompany and follow collective action. Particular case studies for analysis will be drawn from the United States and cross-cultural contexts to illustrate that social movements are human products that have both intended and unintended consequences. This course is sometimes taught with a special subtitle: "Social Justice Movements in Communities of Color," cross-listed with the Sociology/Anthropology Program. Prerequisite: SA 100 or consent.
Demography of Africa (BLST-343)
In this course, we begin by reviewing current literature to clearly define the term, Demography. Next, we examine the demographic processes of population change in the continent of Africa. Demographic processes include mortality, fertility and migration. In addition, we explore patterns of urbanization, economic development and educational attainment. We analyze survey data from the African Census Analysis Project and Demographic Health Survey. Upon completion, you should be familiar with a variety of demographic processes that allow an examination of interesting demographic, social and anthropological questions. Prerequisite: SA 100.
Topics in Black Studies (BLST-345)
The Harlem Renaissance (BLST-355)
An analysis of the interrelationship between the cultural phenomenon and the literature of the Harlem Renaissance, particularly the way in which the social, economic and political conditions of the era helped to shape the literary art of the 1920s.
The Narrative of Black America (BLST-356)
A study of representative samples of Black literature ranging from slave narratives to contemporary Black fiction.
Postcolonial Literature and Criticism (BLST-357)
Readings in literature and criticism from Asia, Africa, Latin American and the Caribbean, in response to the experience of colonialism.
History of African American Education (BLST-360)
The goal of this course is to examine the historical experiences of African Americans in education and related aspects of life. Much of the course will focus on Blacks' experiences in schooling in the South from Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In addition, students will contrast African American schooling experiences with those of Native Americans and others during this period. Students who enjoy and benefit from cooperative and participatory learning environments are encouraged to take this course. Prerequisite: EDUC 213 OR BLST 235.
Directed Study (BLST-361)
Directed Study (BLST-362)
Independent Study (BLST-363)
Independent Study (BLST-364)
Studies in 16th- and Early 17th- Century British Literature (BLST-365)
A study of selected works of poetry, prose and drama from 1500-1660.
Studies in Early American Literature (BLST-369)
Selected topics in the writings of colonial and early national America.
Advanced Topics in Black Studies (BLST-370)
Race and Ethnicity in Latin America (BLST-384)
This course critically examines the history of the social construction of race and ethnicity in Latin America. In it, we will explore how historians have employed race and ethnicity as methodological categories in order to elucidate the histories of Latin America from the pre-Hispanic era through the modern period. Particularly we will focus on the various attempts by the ruling elite to deploy race in the ordering of society; and, how the non-elite resisted the imposition of those elite conceptions of racial and ethnic hierarchies to create their own codes of conduct, and how those conflicts have changed over time.
Senior Project (BLST-385)
Topics in Black Studies (BLST-390)
Comparative Slavery in the Americas (BLST-391)
For many, the history of slavery is synonymous with the United States South. But slavery was not limited to the US and by approaching slavery from a comparative perspective, we will deepen our understanding of slavery as an institution, slaves as historical actors, and therefore the legacies of slavery throughout the Americas. We will explore regional differences within slaves' opportunities to form families, to create cultures, to rebel, and to labor for their own benefits; as well as the interactions of African cultural visions and Christianity.
Performance: African/Diasporan (BLST-422)
New and reconstructed works choreographed by faculty and guest artists in African/Diasporan dance are learned by students and rehearsed for public performance. Participation can include attending biweekly company classes and contributing to the production of the performance. Differences in course number refer to genres of performance work. By audition or invitation only; auditions are typically held during the first two weeks of each semester or immediately preceding a short residency by a guest artist. Cross-listed with Dance 422.
Senior Research (BLST-451)
Senior Research (BLST-452)