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Undergraduate Minor in African American Studies

Bird image for identifying the African American Studies Minor.
The Sankofa bird

The Sankofa bird is from the Akan people of Ghana, West Africa. It stands for "go back and fetch it". In relation to this minor, it stands for looking back to the past so that we may understand how we became what we are and to move forward to a better future.

As of Fall 2019, Texas State University will be offering courses for an undergraduate minor in African American Studies.

The African American Studies minor (AAST) will provide an interdisciplinary course of study that focuses on the Black experience in the United States and throughout the African diaspora. Our central mission is to prepare students to critically understand, conduct research, and interpret the complex histories, societies, and cultures of people of African descent. If you like to read novels, study history, understand politics, or to watch films, then you'll like the disciplinary diversity of the African American Studies Minor (AAST).

The minor in African American Studies (AAST) requires 18 semester credit hours, with 6 hours of required courses and 12 hours of prescribed electives.The minor requires students to take two courses, AAS 2310 and AAS 4320. Students can choose from a prescribed electives course list, found in the course catalog, for the remaining hours. 

AAS 2310: Introduction to African American Studies

This course provides an overview of black culture in America from an interdisciplinary approach, employing scholarship from history, literature, music, visual and performing arts, folklore, religion, sociology, psychology, philosophy, economics, and political science. It will introduce epistemological considerations, theories, and methods that form the field of African American and African Diaspora Studies. 

 

AAS 4320: Global Perspectives on the African Diaspora

This course connects the transatlantic slave trade, contemporary migrations, their legacies, and speaks to the broader issues of the African diaspora in relation to previous and ongoing struggles of black people of rebirth, progress, justice, and racial uplift. It will examine the African Diasporic women's definition of feminism while suggesting no universal black feminism. 

Introducing the Program Coordinator!

After 18 years at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee—where I taught African American literature and coordinated their African American Studies program—I am super excited to join the history department at Texas State, where I will also be coordinating the new African American Studies minor.

I am originally from Moline, Illinois, home of the John Deere Tractor, and I did my undergraduate degree in American Studies at the University of Iowa. After finishing my M.A.T. at Brown University, I taught high school English for three years in Fairfax County, Virginia, where I also coached 9th-grade girls’ basketball and boys’ and girls’ track. I wasn’t a very successful basketball coach, however; the team went 1-15 the first year and 7-9 the second year. In spite of that record, I enjoyed coaching and learned a lot—like losing is okay if we’re having fun.

I finished my PhD in American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, and my dissertation about black student integration eventually became my book—Integrating the Forty Acres: The Struggle for Racial Equality at the University of Texas (University of Georgia, 2006). I have written several articles about African American history and culture, including “Home Economics,” a memoir about growing up poor and black in a midwestern town and “Stirring Up Trouble,” an article about teaching race at a PWI.

I am currently working on three essays—one about Barbara Conrad Smith, a black undergraduate student at the University of Texas in its first year of integration (1956-7) who was removed from the school’s opera; a second titled “Teaching While Black: A Black Professor in Trump Land”; and a third on teaching feminism in a men’s prison. This past year, I taught a class at the Lois DeBerry Special Needs prison in Nashville, Tennessee, and my students read feminist novels such as Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie. My goal is to create an inside/out program at a prison in Texas, where Texas State students will take a class with students who are incarcerated.

This fall, I am teaching AAS 2310: Introduction to African American Studies. In the spring, I will teach AAS 2310 again and “Black Women. Black Protest.” As a component of that class, I hope to do a production of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues as part of V-Day. I also plan to create new classes for the AAS minor, including “Race, Gender, and Sexuality”; “Blacks, Film, and Society”; “Negotiating the Color Line”; and “The Black Power Movement.” Please email me (dng66@txstate.edu) or come by my office (THM 205) if you have suggestions for classes or programming you would like to see offered in the minor or if just want to chat about your interests. You can also follow me on Instagram at dwonnanaomi.

When I am not teaching, writing, or creating programming for the African American Studies program, I train for half marathons, do CrossFit, and walk my dogs—Lena Horne, Ernie Banks, and Ralph Ellison. I also love to watch Judge Judy, so please come by my office and see my autographed picture of her!

To see an article Texas State recently published on her, click here:

African American Studies minor launched at Texas State