AFAM 456 - Methodological and Theoretical Issues in African American Studies

course description

Advanced Topics and Methods is an intensive course on the interdisciplinary research methods used in African American Studies and how they are employed to study the African American experience and the African diaspora. The course’s main goals are to provide students with the building blocks to enable them to read and critique scholarly work in African American studies as well as to conduct their own original research. Under the instructor’s guidance, students will survey and investigate the influences of various theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches and concerns in the inter discipline; determine their intellectual uses and applications; discuss some of the criticisms of these methods, particularly as they relate to contemporary thinking about local, national, and international Black experiences; and deploy these methodologies in their individual research projects.

Starting with a review of the history, culture, philosophy and worldview of the lived experiences of peoples of African descent, the course moves on to provide students with the interdisciplinary methods and techniques used in scholarly research and writing under the rubric of African American Studies. Students will become familiar with the major theoretical paradigms guiding research in African American Studies. From there, the course will focus on principles that are applicable to all forms of research methodologies from surveys to historiography to ethnography, including research ethics, how to frame a research question, how to conduct a literature review, how to design a research project, and how to present research findings.