Skip Course Information

Course Information

Instructor Info:Christopher Tinson
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 105
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 105


W.E.B. DuBois was one of the Twentieth Century's most important intellectual and political figures. His writings, which span from the turn of the century until the Civil Rights era, are still some of the most quoted, referenced, and anthologized. This course will examine the public and private life of DuBois, through a critical evaluation of his contributions as an organizer, race theorist, cultural critic, political journalist, public intellectual, and family man. How did DuBois impact the study of global black experiences? How might he fit within a Black Radical Tradition? What was/is the impact of his ideas on race and race leadership? To what degree can we consider him an American intellectual? And finally, how are DuBois' ideas applicable to the contemporary political environment? This course will engage these and other critical questions through close readings of published and unpublished writings by and about DuBois during his day and long after.

Course Objectives:

After taking and successfully completing this course, students will be able to identify and discuss W.E.B. Du Bois's major contributions to several streams of activity, including the development of sociological knowledge (especially in regards to race, class, and gender), constructions of antiracist and anticolonial thought, notions of democracy and democratic praxis, Africana historiography, and the shaping of an Afrodiasporic radical imagination. Ultimately, students will acquire insight into Du Bois's most well known writings and be able to place his arguments in proper political, social, and historical contexts.

Evaluation Criteria:

Course Evaluation Policy—In accordance with the student assessment practices of Hampshire College, each student will be evaluated based upon their course attendance and participation, and the fulfillment of all assignments in a satisfactory and timely manner.  (Non-Hampshire students see “Five College Students” next.)

Five College Students—Those who are not Hampshire students will receive a letter grade a conventional A-Fail grading scale instead of a written evaluation.  Each assignment will be graded accordingly, including the final project.

Course portfolios—All students are required to submit all of their written work at the end of the semester. If you do not hand your portfolio in by the deadline, you will be in danger of receiving a No EVAL.  No exceptions.  Work turned in late cannot be guaranteed an evaluation.

Additional Info:

N.B. For purposes of efficacy, any part of this syllabus may be changed at the discretion of the professor. For example, readings or viewings may be added, removed, or altered depending on the direction and pace of the course. Please bring your syllabus with you to each class in case changes are made.  


Required Texts (Available at Food for Thought Books in Amherst)

Additional Readings posted to the course Moodle site:

W.E.B. Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk. Boston: Bedford, 1997.

Penny Von Eschen, Race Against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937-57. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997.


Distribution: Power, Community and Social Justice

Cum Skills: Multiple Cultural Perspective, Writing and Research



CREDO – Du Bois On-line Archives

Du Bois, collected Correspondence
PBS – The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow (on-line)

Field Trip to UMass Du Bois Papers archive: TBD


Course Particulars – Vital information follows.

Please read carefully.


* Prof. Tinson’s philosophy of critical education: This course seeks to achieve a courageous vocabulary of race and social justice, as such active and informed dialogue is encouraged and appreciated (attacks are not). We encourage getting real about race, and offering comments that stem from critical engagement with the course readings. We should expect some discomfort at times, and anticipate that some issues will be left unresolved and require longer consideration. And lastly, critical thinking and reflection is valued over self-righteousness.

Attendance, Tardiness, and names—Attendance is critically important and therefore mandatory.  Three unexcused absences will result in no evaluation.  Don’t disappear from the course even (or especially) when you are struggling with an issue. Persistent tardiness is unacceptable under any circumstances.  Your attendance and tardiness will be included as a part of the overall course participation portion of each student’s course evaluation. I take course attendance through a simple sign-in sheet. 

Please indicate on the sign-in sheet how you would like to be addressed. Include any names and pronouns you would like for me and your cohort to use when addressing you. As I teach a large number of new students each semester, I ask that you be patient with me.  It may take me a couple of course meetings to become familiar with you, especially if we’ve never met before this course.  But, rest assured, I will make every effort to address you as you wish.  In class discussions I will answer to “Professor Tinson” or “Professor T”. I do not answer by my first name, nor do I answer to “Mr.”; doing so will only yield blank, slightly hostile stares from me. 

Email ETIQUETTE —Please type the course number CSI 136 in the subject line of all correspondence directed to me (I will do the same).  Also, please properly address and sign your emails. I do not answer emails that begin “Hey”, “Hey prof.,” “So”, “Yo”, etc., or those that begin without any address at all.  “Hi Prof. T.,” or “Dear Professor Tinson” are great email starters.

If you need an answer to a burning question or need to inform me of a pressing issue (e.g. a medical absence), do not wait until the last minute to notify me.  I need at least 24 hours lead time to answer you.  Plan accordingly.  However, I do not accept emailed assignments.

 NO LAPTOPS. Unless otherwise noted, you are not allowed to use your laptop during course meetings.

SEVERE WEATHER & CLASS CANCELLATION (just in case): On severe weather days please call the College’s weather information line to check the status of school closing.  If the school is open plan to attend class.  If school is closed due to weather, I usually issue (via email) a small assignment to make up for lost class time; so don’t be surprised. J If for some reason the professor is unable to come to class the CSI administrative assistants will place a written notice of class cancellation on the classroom door. 

All Out-of-class assignments must be typed.  Handwritten out-of-class assignments will not be accepted. 

 LATE ASSIGNMENTS AND REWRITE POLICY: Yes, students are allowed to rewrite their written/evaluated assignments.  All rewrites must be received no later than one week (or two class meetings) after the assignment was evaluated by the instructor and returned to the student. However, assignments turned in late cannot be revised for reconsideration. Late assignments will be evaluated and returned in the student’s final portfolio.

Student Participation: Students are required to read all assigned course readings, however students will also select (or be assigned) readings for which they will lead course discussions throughout the semester.  How? Lead discussants will provide the overall argument in the article or chapter; they will offer one or two (or more!) critical questions about the material for the class to discuss; and give their own view of what readers should take away or conclude from the article or chapter. Students should have their 1 single-spaced page of notes to turn-in at the conclusion of their discussion.

Written Work:3 CRITICAL RESPONSE ESSAYS, AND ONE RESEARCH PAPER (or equivalent project)

Students are required to write two critical papers, and one research paper throughout the semester. These essays are a chance for you to explore an idea and to demonstrate your understanding of the particular themes and concepts we have read, observed and discussed in the course.

critical essays should be no shorter than 5 full double-spaced pages in length and not longer than 7 pages.  In these essays you are expected to draw upon one or more of the aspects of the reading, film/video, musical, or literary contents that pertain to historical, social and or political developments concerning the controversy and debate surrounding prisons, specifically engaging the assigned course readings. 

Research Papers must be 10-12 pages in length on a subject of your choosing closely related to our course.  Additionally, it is essential that students use proper citation methods (Chicago or MLA) in the critical and research essays. If you don’t know what this means, now is a good time to find out. Though each assignment has its own due date, it is expected that all evaluated coursework will be collected and included in a portfolio to be turned in at the conclusion of the course.

  • Examples of Final essay topic or approved “project”
    • RESEARCH ESSAYS: A study of Du Bois’s contribution to… Where would Africana knowledge be without Du Bois? What particular aspect of Du Bois’s repertoire would you like to explore? More potential topics will be announced throughout the course.
  • PROJECT: Could be organizing a campus wide program containing a serious interactive activity; it might also be a creative project of your choosing such as a visual art piece, a collection of poems, a high school lesson plan, a community arts project, a zine, a website, etc. All projects must also include a descriptive write-up detailing the ideas and strategies contained therein.