This reading intensive and discussion driven graduate seminar examines the African American experience during the 20th century. Each week we will read and discuss a text on African American life and culture during a particular era in the 20th century. The readings are arranged chronologically, beginning with W. E. B DuBois’ Souls of Black Folk, his classic text on the color line published in 1903, and concluding with a recent book on the politics of contemporary African American cultural productions. In addition, we will study in detail the multiple manifestations of the African American struggle for civil and human rights, from Garveyism in the rural South, to Black Power in the urban North.
This course is designed for graduate history and humanities students, especially those preparing major and minor fields in African American and American history. Upon completing this course, students should have a clear understanding of the general history of African Americans during the 20th century; African American life during the Jim Crow era; African Americans’ transition from farm to factory; and African American protest during the conventional civil rights and Black Power eras. Students should also have gained keen insight into the diverse array of questions, sources, and methods that have helped uncover African American history, and developed the skills necessary for critically reading and reviewing any work of history.
Since this course is a discussion seminar, you are expected to participate regularly in all class discussions by sharing your thoughts on the readings, answering questions posed by the professor and your classmates, and asking questions of your own design. This class can only work if everyone participates.
Your presence is required at every class. Failure to show for class will result in a severe grade deduction. In the event that you cannot attend class, notify the professor as far in advance as possible. Also, make every effort to arrive in class on time; lateness is both distracting and disruptive. If you are tardy, please enter as unobtrusively as possible. Similarly, if you know you will need to leave early, please notify the professor before class and seat yourself close to an exit so that you can leave without disrupting class.
Each student will be required to make one presentation on an assigned reading during the quarter. This presentation must be 15-20 minutes in length and ought to include a summary of the author’s main arguments, an analysis of the author’s evidence, a critique of his or her conclusions, and an overall impression of the book. Presenters must also field questions from the class at the end of the presentation and initiate the class conversation by posing discussion questions. On those occasions when more than one person is presenting, the presenters must coordinate their presentations in advance.
Each student will be assigned to one of three groups (A, B, or C) and will write a book review for each of the three books assigned to his or her group. The reviews ought to be from 750 to 1,000 words in length. They are due no later than 5:00 pm the night before class and must be uploaded to the course website (Carmen) as an MS Word document. Each review ought to address the following questions:
What is the purpose and scope of the work under review?
On what principle(s) does the author select and arrange the material included, and how appropriate and effectual is this method of presentation?
What, specifically, are the work's strengths and weaknesses?
How does this work compare to others that address similar or related subjects?
For what audience / readership is this work most useful?
Does the work achieve its objectives to the reviewer's and / or the reader's satisfaction?
The following information should precede each review in the following format:
Full Title: Subtitle , Author’s Name. City of Publication, State of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication, xxx pp. $xx.xx, cloth or paper.
On those weeks when a student is not writing a book review, he or she is to write a stream-of-consciousness reaction to the week’s reading that is not to exceed one single spaced page. The reflection should include a general impression of the book. These assignments are due no later than 12:00 pm the day of class and must be uploaded to the course website as an MS Word document.
An historiographical essay of approximately 15-20 pages is due during finals week. The essay must be uploaded to the course website as an MS Word document. No paper will be accepted after the due date unless prior agreement has been reached with the professor. Failure to deliver the paper and/or to make alternative arrangements with the professor will result in a failing grade for the paper. The essay must be based on one of the weekly discussion themes, such as the African American experience during the Nadir, or the African American experience during World War II. The assigned reading for the weekly discussion theme that you select will serve as the starting point for a detailed analysis of the way scholars have examined the African American experience during a particular moment in time. You will also include in your essay a close look at the way scholars have addressed one or more of the key characteristics of the African American experience in the 20th century such as black protest or black political participation. Further instructions will be given at a later date.
Grades for the course will be calculated as follows:
Class Participation (including attendance): 20%
Student Presentation: 20%
Book Reviews: 30%
Historiographical Essay: 30%
A: 93 and above C+: 77-79
A-: 90-92 C: 73-76
B+: 87-89 C-: 70-72
B: 83-86 D+: 67-69
B-: 80-82 D: 63-66
E: 62 and below
All books listed below are required and are available at local textbook sellers and through most online retailers. The books are listed in the order that we will read them in class. Remember to bring all books to class on the day they are discussed.
1. W. E. B. Dubois, The Souls of Black Folk (Norton Critical Editions) [Henry Louis Gates, editor]. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999. $12.80.
2. Paul Ortiz, Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920. University of California Press, 2005. $17.33
3. Robin D. G. Kelley, Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class. Free Press, 1996. $19.95
4. Robert Rodgers Korstad, Civil Rights Unionism: Tobacco Workers and the Struggle for Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth Century South. University of North Carolina Press, 2003. $27.50
5. Martha Biondi, To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Post War New York City. Harvard University Press, 2003. $36.40
6. Thomas F. Jackson, From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006. $26.37
7. Charles Payne, I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle. University of California Press, 1995. $24.95
8. Peniel E. Joseph, Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America. New York: Henry Holt, 2006. $18.97
9. Jelani Cobb, To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip-Hop Aesthetic. New York: NYU Press, 2007. $15.61
All students must be officially enrolled in the course by the end of the second full week of the quarter. No requests to add the course will be approved by the department chair after that time. Enrolling officially and on time is solely the responsibility of each student.
This course adheres to The Ohio State University’s Academic Misconduct Policy. All acts of dishonesty in any work constitute acts of academic misconduct. The Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Policy will be followed in the event of academic misconduct. For additional information, see the OSU Code of Student Conduct at: http://studentaffairs.osu.edu/resource_csc.asp. For a discussion and explanation of what constitutes plagiarism see: http://cstw.osu.edu/writingCenter/handouts/research_plagiarism.cfm. If you need assistance with writing, visit the OSU Writing Center homepage at: http://cstw.osu.edu.
Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities that have been certified by the Office for Disability Services will be appropriately accommodated, and should inform Dr. Jeffries as soon as possible of their needs. The Office for Disability Services is located in 150 Pomerene Hall, 1760 Neil Avenue; telephone 292-3307, TDD 292-0901; http://www.ods.ohio-state.edu/.
BOOK REVIEW GROUP ASSIGNMENTS
Group AGroup BGroup C
1. 1. 1.
2. 2. 2.
3. 3. 3.
4. 4. 4.
5. 5. 5.
Week 1. Introduction and course overview
Week 2. African Americans at the start of the 20th Century