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Course Information

Instructor Info:Christopher Tinson
TA Info:Elydah Joyce
Term: 2014S
Meeting Info: Monday Wednesday
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 102
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 102


This course will deepen students' knowledge of the African diaspora through the study of what some scholars have called "Africanisms," a broad term that seeks to capture the wide array of technical skills, artistic practices, religious and spiritual beliefs, philosophies, linguistic patterns, and epistemologies that derive from the African continent and take root around the world. Though many of these practices continue in the present day, they are as likely to be found throughout the African diaspora in places such as the Panamanian city Coln, the Brazilian state of Bahia, and New York City as they are in Africa. In this course we will interrogate such concepts as "survivals," "retentions," and "the black Atlantic," and study critical debates between such major figures as E. Franklin Frazier, Melville Herskovitz, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ruth Simms Hamilton, Sheila S. Walker, Joseph E. Harris and others over the meaning of African culture in the New World.

Course Objectives:


Culture, Humanities, and Languages • Power, Community and Social Justice


Cumulative Skills

Independent Work • Multiple Cultural Perspectives • Writing and Research



Multiple Cultural Perspectives • Presentation • Reading • Writing


Evaluation Criteria:

* Prof. Tinson’s Philosophy of critical education: As we are seeking a courageous vocabulary of race and social justice, active, informed dialogue is encouraged and appreciated (attacks are not); we encourage getting real about race, staying engaged with the readings, avoiding self-pity. We expect some discomfort, and anticipate that some issues will be left unresolved.  And remember: critical thinking is valued over self-righteousness.


Attendance and Tardiness—Attendance is critically important and therefore mandatory.  Three unexcused absences will result in no evaluationPersistent 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.


Emailing the Professor—Please type the course number (CSI 116) in the subject line of all correspondence directed to me.  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.


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.)


Course Portfolios

At the end of the course all students will hand in a Large Envelope containing all course assignments.  This should include any completed, graded, or revised work.  Do not sneak missed assignments into your portfolio without the Professor’s permission.  Once your evaluation has been uploaded to the HUB you can stop by my office to retrieve your portfolio. 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 receive an Incomplete that will carry over into the following semester.  If your work is still missing by the close of the following semester, your incomplete will turn into a No Eval.  No exceptions.  Work turned in late cannot be guaranteed an evaluation.



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.


NO LAPTOPS, ETC. Unless otherwise noted, you are not allowed to use your laptop, CELL PHONES, NOOK, IPOD, ETC. during course meetings.


Readings over break—because there are a number of key texts that are central to this course, readings will be assigned over Spring Break.


REVIEW ESSAYS AND RESEARCH PAPER – Students are required to write critical review essays, 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. These essays should be no shorter than 5-7 full double-spaced pages in length.  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 evolution of African American Studies.  Final Research Papers must be 10-12 pages in length on a subject closely related to our course.  Additionally, it is essential that students use proper citation methods (Chicago or MLA) in these essays. See guidelines for assistance.


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.


SEVERE WEATHER & CLASS CANCELLATION (just in case)—On severe weather days please call the Hampshire College Hotline: 559-5508 (off-campus) or ext. 5508 (on-campus) 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 School of Critical Social Inquiry (CSI) administrative assistants will place a written notice of class cancellation on the classroom door. 


N.B. Disclaimer: For purposes of efficacy, any part of this syllabus may be changed at the discretion of the professor.


Reading and Assignment Schedule

(Please come to class prepared to discuss reading on the date listed below.)

N.B. For purposes of efficacy, any part of this syllabus is subject to change at the discretion of the professor.

Additional Info:

Possible Writing Topics for any of the essays/projects

Select a pioneering scholar of African Diapora Studies and write about their contributions

Website review—review a website or blog that contains extensive information on an aspect of Afro-Diasporic culture (can include popular culture, history, religion, music, etc. but must be focused on the African Diaspora).  Should use the course reading as entry point to discuss web content.

Select a historic or contemporary artist (broadly defined) and discuss the elements of diaspora in their work, art, etc.

Definitions of Culminating Semester Assignments


Might include a full-length essay, an extensive annotated bibliography, or an interview with a “notable” artist, educator, organizer, or activist.


Might include 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 critique of a local libraries Africana holdings, etc. All projects must also include a descriptive write-up detailing the ideas and strategies contained therein.