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Introduction to African American Culture (AFR 301)

Unique numbers: 30261, 30706, 31191

Meeting Times and location: MWF 12-1; BUR 116
Instructor: Dr. Foster (Office hours BEL 240, Wednesdays 1-3pm; Thursdays 9:30-11)
Teaching Assistant: Autumn Caviness (Office hours ____________________ BEL 228)
Teaching Assistant: Tami Jackson (Office hours ____________________ BEL 228)
YouTube Channel:
Dr. Foster on Twitter: @kevmfos (Dont worry, no follow back unless asked)
Course Description
This course surveys African American cultural production from the 1600s to the present. Topics cover the
circumstances and responses of blacks during North American enslavement, the Civil War, Reconstruction,
Great Migration, Renaissance, Civil Rights Movement, and in contemporary contexts. Class sessions will
reflect our reading of primary and secondary texts that embody a wide range of African American religious,
political, social and artistic thought and production. The class will fill gaps in students knowledge about
African American culture and history and provide a foundation for future Black Studies course work. As a
co-curricular activity, students will attend a recording of talks for BlackademicsTV, a new media project
that disseminates Black Studies scholarship via the Internet and public television.
Course Goals
1) Students will develop a baseline of knowledge and skills that will equip them to critically
engage and experience success in future Black Studies courses.
2) Students will develop an understanding of the cultural history of people of African descent in
the United States.
3) Students will engage and understand cultural history, narratives, performances and texts as
relevant and impactful in their own lives.
Required Texts (available at the University Co-op)
Kindred (Octavia Butler)
Souls of Black Folk (W.E.B. Du Bois)
Why We Cant Wait (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Grading Scale:
A: 94-100;
C+: 78-81;

A-: 92-93;
C: 74-77;

B+: 88-91;
C-: 70-73;

B: 84-87;
D: 60-69;

B-: 82-83;
F: Below 60.

Graded Assessments (100 points available)

Weeks 1-16: (10) Attendance
Week 2:
(5) Quiz #1
Week 4:
(10) Blackademics 1 reaction paper
Week 6:
(10) Blackademics 2 attendance and write-up
Week 8:
(25) Mid-term Test
Week 13:
(10) Quiz #2
Week 16:
(30) Final Test
Attendance (10 free points, unless): Each students class attendance will be recorded; no points
will be deducted for the first three unexcused absences. The fourth unexcused absence will result in 3
points off a students final grade. An additional three points will be deducted for each additional
unexcused absence. Absences for university sanctioned events, religious holidays, or family
emergencies (on a case by case basis) will be excused.
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Preparation: Students are expected to complete readings before each lecture, and to engage
discussion with the instructor or classmates when called upon.
Blackademics Attendance: Each student will be required to attend and write a reaction paper for
Blackademics2, which will take place at KLRU public television studio 6A in CMB (Jesse H. Jones
Communication Center - Bldg B) on campus. There will be plenty of seats if you RSVP ahead of time, but
once we share the RSVP link do not wait; seating is limited and we anticipate a full house. Following the
event students will write a reaction paper that provides thoughts on any four of the talks and the
overall event itself.
Religious holidays: The University policy is to respect religious holidays. Let Ms. Jackson know ahead
of time if you will miss a class for observance of a religious holiday or event.
Students with Disabilities Accommodations will be made for students with disabilities. Visit Dr.
Foster to discuss necessary accommodations and when doing so be sure to bring university
documentation of the disability and recommended accommodations).
Personal technology: No cell phone use or texting during class (phones should be turned off).
Laptops can be used for note taking or looking up supporting information. However, Internet
browsing in class (e.g. monitoring Facebook, watching Ultimate Dog Tease, HISHE, or other surfing
that has little or nothing to do with class) is cause for dismissal for the day and an unexcused absence.
Plagiarism: In reflection papers, if you use words or ideas that are not your own you must cite your
sources. Otherwise you will be guilty of plagiarism. Dr. Fosters penalties for plagiarism are
appropriately severe. Err on the side of precision and transparency by providing a bibliographic
reference to sources that inform your opinions.
Attendance sign-in: Do not sign in for classmates. Do not share your EID with others. Students caught
signing in for others will not be able to receive higher than a C for the class, regardless of their
numerical grade. The same holds for student(s) whom they signed in. If someone is caught signing you
in with your EID, you are deemed complicit in the breach of academic integrity.
Class and Readings schedule
1. Monday 1/14
Syllabus, Expectations
Wednesday, 1/16 Foundations 1 & 2: Vindicationism & Cultural Anthropology
Friday 1/18:
Foundations 3 & 4: Critical Thinking and Media Literacy
2. Monday 1/21
Wednesday 1/23
Friday 1/25

No Class Session
Slave Trade
Quiz #1; Colonial Era Enslavement

3. Monday 1/28
Wednesday 1/30
Friday 2/1

Reading Discussion: Kindred (Prologue, The River, The Fire, The Fall)
Reading Discussion: Kindred (The Fight, The Storm, The Rope, Epilogue)
Cultural Production in Context (Souls of Black Folk Chapter 1)

4. Monday 2/4
Wednesday 2/6
Friday 2/8

Cultural Production in Context (Souls of Black Folk 2)

Cultural Production in Context (Souls of Black Folk 3)
Reaction Paper #1 Due; Stereotypes

5. Monday 2/11
Wednesday 2/13
2/13 7pm

Freedom Narratives (Up From Slavery 1-5)

Civil War and Racial Terrorism (Up From Slavery 6-10)
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Friday 2/15

Blackademics discussion (Up From Slavery 11-13)

6. Monday 2/18
Wednesday 2/20
Friday 2/22

The Great Migration (Up From Slavery 14-17)

Harlem Renaissance (Reading: Sample Poems posted on Blackboard)
Reaction Paper #2 Due; The New Negro

7. Monday 2/25
Wednesday 2/27
Friday 3/1

Respectability in 19th & early 20th century Black entertainment and Film
19th & 20th century Literacy and Education (Souls of Black Folk 4)
Midterm Review

8. Monday 3/4
Wednesday 3/6
Friday 3/8

Civil Rights Philosophy and Strategies (Reading: Why We Cant Wait; Intro, 1,2)
From Civil Rights to Self-Restoration (Reading: Ballot or the Bullet)

9. Monday 3/11
Wednesday 3/13
Friday 3/15

Spring Break (no classes)

10. Monday 3/18

Black Power Mix Tape (Reading: Why We Cant Wait 3,5)
Wednesday 3/20 Black Power Mix Tape (Reading: Why We Cant Wait 6,7)
Friday 3/22
Black Power Mix Tape
11. Monday 3/25
Wednesday 3/27
Friday 3/29

Black Music From Motown to Funk
Black Music 70s to Hip Hop

12. Monday 4/1

Wednesday 4/3
Friday 4/5

Education: School to Prison Pipeline (Souls of Black Folk 13)

Education: Stereotype Threat (Souls of Black Folk 12)
Education: What do we teach Black kids and why?

13. Monday 4/8

Special Topics: 21st century Race & Racism
Wednesday 4/10 Special Topics: The Black Church
Friday 4/12
Quiz #2; Special Topics: Black Music Today
14. Monday 4/15
Special Topics: Social Media
Wednesday 4/17 Special Topics: Student Community
Friday 4/19
Special Topics: Single Parenthood and the Black Family
15. Monday 4/22
Special Topics: Affirmative Action
Wednesday 4/24 Special Topics: Sports
Friday 4/26
Special Topics: Natural Hair and beauty
16. Monday 4/29
Wednesday 5/1
Friday 5/3

Student evaluations
Final Review
Final Test

Issues not covered in this syllabus are guided by the policies and procedures of The University or Texas at
Austin. This syllabus is subject to change in response to student and instructional needs over the course of
the semester. All modifications will be clearly communicated to students.

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