Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Volume 5, Issue 2
spring 2015
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editors, Linda Hase & Moe Gardner
Layout Design, Nick Appleby

Interdisciplinary Approaches to African American Studies
WGSS 410/AFAM 410/AMST 310

by Abigail Moore '16

Interdisciplinary Approaches to African American Studies, Professor Allen’s undergraduate class, is intended as one of the capstones to the AFAM major, but taking it as a WGSS major has just been fantastic.  One of the benefits of a major like either WGSS or AFAM at Yale is the multitude of opportunities to take classes from professors like Jafari Allen in intimate settings—because there are fewer than ten students taking the course this semester, we are able to cultivate in-depth and personal conversations surrounding the assigned texts that enhance not only the intensity of the discussion, but the power of the course as an interpersonal experience.  Tracing the history, theory, and future possibilities of Black Studies as an academic concentration, the articles and various texts we explore in class, such as the works of Cathy Cohen and Stuart Hall, incite powerful thoughts and emotional reactions to the necessity of black studies in academics, and as a cultural phenomenon that leads to political action. At a personal level, the course has been especially effective amidst the political turmoil of racial policing and push back in Ferguson, Missouri, where my family lives and where I have been spending much of my time the past two semesters.  Jafari’s course—both the assigned content and the relationships and discussions that surround it—has been illuminating, energizing, and empowering for me, and almost certainly for each of the other members of the class as well.

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