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The following descriptions are from the fall 2019 course catalog.

Foundational Courses

AAAD 491: Class, Race, and Inequality in America

Instructor: Kenneth R. Janken

This course explores the interrelationships among class, race and inequality in the United States and the ways radical intellectuals have understood those relationships. In his foundational study, Black Reconstruction (1935), W.E.B. Du Bois posits that the overthrow of slavery, which was largely the result of efforts by slaves, opened a class and race struggle for democracy and equality that achieved remarkable results but was ultimately defeated. Since then, Left political forces have wrestled with stark divisions between white and black (and other minority) workers while fighting for democracy and equality for all. Students will study Du Bois’ insights and apply them to other historical periods – and our own times.


AMST 210: Approaches to Southern Studies: A Historical Analysis of the American South

Instructor: Seth Kotch

In this gateway course to the study of the American South, students will examine southern histories recognizing the contributions of all its people, including people of American Indian, African, Latinx, Asian, and European descent. Students will consider the region in all its complexity through a multi-disciplinary conversation about the American South that considers art, archaeology, architecture, cultural tourism, ecology, folklife, foodways, geography, history, language, literature, material culture, myth, manners, music, politics, religion, values, violence, and more. The audience for our course extends to those seeking an introduction to southern cultures as well as those considering opportunities for further study on a uniquely valorized and vilified American region. Throughout the semester, students will meet and work with scholars from our university community who study the region from a variety of disciplines and perspectives.


Students interview Louise Owens, one of the elder descendants of lynching victim Plummer Bullock.
Students interview Louise Owens, one of the elder descendants of lynching victim Plummer Bullock as part of Glenn Hinson’s “Southern Legacies: The Descendants Project” class in fall 2018. (photo by Taylor Gartman)

ANTH 370: Southern Legacies: The Descendants Project

Instructor: Glenn Hinson

This research-intensive class explores the legacy of racial terrorism in N.C., searching archival sources to discover the family histories of regional lynching victims, tracing those families to the present-day, interviewing their descendants, and working with communities to build public awareness of — and perhaps public memorials to — the victims of racial violence.  Our 2019 focus will be Warren County, where a 1921 double-lynching has vanished from both the history books and much of public memory. This semester will include class trips to Warren County and Washington, D.C., and student-group visits to the homes of descendants in other North Carolina locations.


ANTH 448 Health & Medicine in the American South

Instructor: Martha King

This course focuses on ways bodies have been seen, unseen, treated, and left untreated in the American South since the formation of the US. This includes deep historical constructions of difference between categories of race, how these differences became manifest through socioeconomic relationships, and how resulting structural inequalities continue to shape health outcomes across the region. This course asks: How can we understand the history and culture of a region through the experience of health and illness among its people? Using approaches of anthropology, we will consider the individual, social, and political dimensions of medicalized bodies in the American South.


Flowers laid on top of the Founders Memorial on McCorkle Place.

GEOG 225: Space, Place, and Difference

Instructor: Altha Cravey

Feminist concepts about gender, race, sexuality, and class have transformed the way geographers examine social processes, our interactions with environments, and the human perception and construction of landscapes. In this course, we explore the politics and power of social difference, with special attention on the dynamics of gender, race, class, sexuality, and intersectionality. We explore two case studies of the United States’ South: Latinization of the South and the African American exodus known as the Great Migration. We also examine the built environment of our campus and the UNC system.


HIST/AMST 110: Introduction to the Cultures and Histories of Native North America

Instructor: Malinda Maynor Lowery

This course explores the histories of many hundreds of diverse American Indian peoples, their relationships, and how they change over time. We will study their experiences in North America and their experiences with one another, Europeans, and Africans from early times to the twenty-first century. Along the way, we will use archaeology, anthropology, art, film, and fiction to consider questions ranging from the evolution of ideas about race, nation, and sovereignty, the nature and results of cross-cultural contacts, and the concept of history itself. Our mission is to teach and learn a history that you may know little or nothing about, but which is essential to understanding the society we live in, and essential to our cultural competency as residents of the United States.


HIST 395: Race & Memory at UNC

Instructor: William Sturkey

Race & Memory at UNC will provide an overview of the history of race and memory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This course will expose students to primary sources detailing the history of race on campus and in the lives of many of the university’s benefactors. Students will engage with more than 225 years of university history and gain an advanced understanding of the contemporary challenges and opportunities of studying that history.


HNRS 353: Slavery and the University

Instructor: James Leloudis

Across the country, colleges and universities are wrestling with the legacies of slavery on their campuses. This is painful history that we must acknowledge and reckon with, particularly if we are to fulfill the promise of a public university. This course is designed to contribute to that work. We will spend most of our class sessions in the University Archives, the North Carolina Collection, and the Southern Historical Collection (all located in Wilson Library) working in primary sources from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.


SOCI 122: Race and Ethnic Relations

Instructor: Kathleen J. Fitzgerald

The first goal of this course is to recognize that race and ethnicity are social constructions. Second, we will focus on “the other side of racism:” white privilege. An additional goal is to be able to examine the significant role that race/ethnicity plays in our everyday lives. Another goal is to learn to talk about race in an intelligent, informed way and to learn to recognize and combat white fragility. We then analyze how racial/ethnic inequality manifests in various societal institutions such as the educational, economic, and political spheres, the sports world, military, and popular culture. Finally, students will understand changing racial demographics.


A student checks her reading in a class

New Directions Courses

AMST 201: Literary Approaches to American Studies

Instructor: Annette Rodriguez

Our course is a study of interdisciplinary methods of American Studies with an emphasis on the historical context for literary texts. We begin from the proposition that we can best understand the nation from its borders and peripheries. We give particular attention to the critical importance to marginalized, migrant, immigrant, and/or refugee writers for their examination and analyses of American life. In addition to a variety of short stories, essays, and verse that span the twentieth and twenty-first century, we will also highlight the role of life writing, or memoir to better understand the project of “America.”


Student Saratu Garba playing the role of Electra as she mourns at the tomb of her father, Agamemnon. The photo is from a February 2019 performance of Aeschylus’ Oresteia at the Forest Theatre. (photo by Kelly I. McArdle)

CLAS 051: Greek Drama from Page to Stage (First Year Seminar)

Instructor: Al Duncan

Taking a participatory approach to ancient Greek drama, this course pairs readings of three Athenian playwrights (Aeschylus, Euripides, and Aristophanes) with performance-oriented activities, readings, and writings. As its particular thematic focus, this course interrogates the politics of performance, especially the ways theater is used to model and effect conflict resolution in highly polarized societies.  By tracing the political legacies of Greek drama on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the US-Mexican border, and even in late-night comedy shows, students are asked to consider how even the world’s oldest theatrical tradition can lend new perspectives on conflict resolution within divided communities.


CMPL 460: Transnational Romanticism

Instructor: Janice Koelb

In this course, we will investigate twin themes that at first glance may appear to be unrelated: 1) critiques of progress and modern urban culture, and 2) the theory and practice of imaginative expression in Europe and the Americas from the mid-eighteenth century to the present.  Students examine the extent to which the social conditions that influenced the earliest Romantic periods have persisted; and the extent to which characteristically Romantic preoccupations have survived, been transformed, and/or abandoned, including how the abolition of slavery in Britain is remembered and represented. This is a mentored-research (EE) class that guides students through their own research projects, incorporating class readings and feedback from all participants. Since half the course grade is based on the student’s original research, the course provides an ideal venue for students wishing to participate in interdisciplinary projects like the Reckoning Initiative.


FOLK/ENGL 487: Everyday Stories

Instructor: Patricia Sawin

Telling stories is a fundamental communicative skill. As part of social interaction, we formulate and share true (or possibly true) stories—memories of formative experiences, family anecdotes, legends about improbable but intriguing events, accounts of significant local history. These apparently artless tales serve crucial functions—conveying identity, negotiating belonging, establishing a shared ground for belief and action, confirming or challenging ideologies. In this course, students collect and analyze “everyday stories” in our own families and communities, focusing on the techniques and structures that make such accounts effective and the ways in which context and audience influence performance and meaning.


FREN 150: Globalization and the French-Speaking World

Instructor: Dorothea Heitsch

This course gives students the opportunity to better understand the different facets of the modern French-speaking world. Throughout the semester, we will travel from France to other European areas, then to North and South Africa and finally the Caribbean and North America, choosing significant or more representative areas. We will look at their geography, their historical and political development, varied cultural aspects, and, at times, establish the importance of their links with the United States.


GLBL 383: Global Whiteness

Instructor: Mark Driscoll

This course will look at race as a theory and practice as it has been constructed in academic disciplines, popular culture, and social struggle.  Historically we will chart the transformations from the 19th-century to current-day post-genomic science. “Whiteness” has emerged in the last several years as an interdisciplinary arena of academic inquiry drawing from the fields of critical race studies, cultural studies, Empire studies and international politics to focus on the historical, cultural and political aspects of people phenotypically understood in difference as white. This is particularly important given the rise of white power and white nationalism in the last few years.


Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu
Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu

HIST 279: Modern South Africa

Instructor: Lauren Jarvis

This course explores South Africa’s history from 1800 to the present. Some core questions: How did South Africa become a country? What was apartheid, and how did South Africans transform their protests against it into a global movement? How did South Africans attempt to chart a new national identity after apartheid ended, and what role did the Truth and Reconciliation Commission play in their efforts? As we answer these questions, we will pay especially careful attention to a range of primary sources from Nobel-laureate Desmond Tutu’s No Future without Forgiveness to Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime.


RELI/ASIA/ARAB 681: Arabic Sources on American Slavery

Instructor: Carl W. Ernst  

This is a research seminar focusing on Arabic writings of enslaved Africans, particularly Omar ibn Said (1770-1864), who in 1831 wrote an autobiography in Arabic while enslaved in North Carolina. The focus of the class will be on his writings, including over a dozen manuscripts containing letters and short extracts from the Qur’an and the Bible. Students will transcribe the Arabic manuscripts in a critical edition and translate them with the aim of producing a joint online publication edited by the instructor. (Prerequisite: years of Arabic or instructor’s permission.)


SPAN 344: Latin@ American Cultural Topics

Instructor: Emil Keme

How do ideas of race and ethnicity originate in and shape Latin American societies and LatinX communities in the United States? How do Indigenous and Black writers and artists address ideas of race and ethnicity in their own work? This course will address the answers to these questions by critically examining the social, cultural, and political constructions of race and ethnicity as they are presented in contemporary (1950s to the present) Latin American and LatinX literatures, film, music and other artistic cultural productions. Exploring ideas of race and ethnicity, in turn, will allow us to develop connections with the processes of class, gender, and national formations in these social / national contexts. (Prerequisite: SPAN 261 or SPAN 267.)